UTSA’s hopes of starting conference play with a victory were surely crushed when they traveled to Denton, TX to take on the North Texas Mean Green. This anticipated matchup was short of all competition as North Texas beat UTSA 45-3. This loss comes right after their 31-13 loss to the Army Black Knights. This third straight loss brings the Roadrunner record to 1-3. The last three games have seemed very reminiscent of the 2018 season which could not finish fast enough. Last year, the Roadrunners finished with three wins and nine losses and they appear to be on the same path again. This will help give a look at UTSA’s three-game skid and at what is not working for the Roadrunners right now.
UTSA’s Three-Game Skid
In a very quick turn of events, the Roadrunners went from dominating in their opener, to looking like they did last year. The prospect of a .500 season would have been an absolute success. However, it appears that the Roadrunners are digressing in play similar to that of 2018’s team. While there is still time to right the ship, the Roadrunners will have to play from behind from the remainder of the season.
Significantly, quarterback Frank Harris was only able to participate in two plays into the first drive before being injured. It appeared that he injured his right arm, which is the same arm that gave him issues against Army last week. If this sustained injury is more serious than the team hopes, the Roadrunners will have some major issues in the future. Harris in the last three weeks has been unproductive. But, he has the potential to be the best player on the offense but has slowly become to lose steam.
It was clear that Harris was the front runner at quarterback. Unfortunately, when he went down on Saturday, his replacements were of no help. Lowell Narcisse was given the keys to the offense and his appearance proved he was not ready for the moment. Narcisse passed the ball 36 times and completed only 16 with a 44 percent completion rate. He had a total of 124 yards and two interceptions and no touchdowns. As a fan, you could not expect the replacement to be as good as the starter, but surely Roadrunner fans were not expecting this inefficiency. Usually, the backup usually could at least sustain some offense, but with Narcisse there was none.
Quarterback Cordale Grundy also saw some limited time. The starter from the previous season has been relegated to the third-string quarterback role. In 2018, Grundy started about half of the team’s games before sharing playing time, and eventually, losing the job. On Saturday, he completed one of his four passes for four yards in his short stint. The fact of the matter is that, without Harris, the team cannot win. His injury proves that the backups need more exposure and experience with the offense during practice. Correcting this now will be crucial if Harris misses extended playing time with this injury.
When the passing game lacks, the running backs need to pick it up. The Roadrunners are often so one-dimensional that they seem to only utilize the pass. They have talented backs, but they are underused and not given the opportunity to make an impact. The leading rusher from Saturday’s game was backup quarterback Narcisse with 98 yards on 15 carries. This may have been the only bright spot on the game. Sincere McCormick was second in rushing with 62 yards on 16 carries. McCormick is clearly the team’s favorite rusher, but he is underutilized. He has a legitimate chance to impact games and help alleviate the pressure in the passing game when things go south.
This season the Roadrunners are only averaging about 330 yards of offense per game. Their offense also ranks 125th out of 130 teams in FBS and only average 16.2 points per game. In terms of their record, the Roadrunners sit 113th out of 130 teams. In the last three games, the team is averaging a mere ten points and being outscored 139 to 30 in the same stretch.
Now games are won on the defensive side of the ball, but when the offense scores ten points a game in the last three match-ups, it is hard to win. Nevertheless, the defense has looked shell shocked recently. They are allowing 36.5 points per game which ranks them 120th out of 130. They are constantly being outpaced and allowing big plays. It does not help that the offense cannot stay on the field. They are also allowing over 400 yards of offense in their first four games. This will be a big week for the evaluation of the defense. Schemes must be changed or changes in personnel, but what is seen week in and week out will not win games.
Next week, the Roadrunners will be playing the UTEP Miners. As of now, the ‘Runners are sitting in last place in the Conference USA West standings. This game against 1-2 UTEP is a winnable game and in reality, must be won. To keep from dropping to 1-4, UTSA must show up on both sides of the ball and hope that Frank Harris is healthy enough to go.