After a thrilling debut in Week 2 for the UTSA Roadrunners (1-0) and new head coach Jeff Traylor against Texas State, they now turn their attention to FCS foe Stephen F. Austin (0-1) who comes into town on Saturday for the home opener.
The Roadrunners got a walk-off, 29-yard, game-winning field goal from kicker Hunter Duplessis in overtime last Saturday to secure a 51-48 victory over Texas State where UTSA racked up just under 500 yards of total offense, including 330 on the ground. While the defense wasn't spectacular, giving up more than 450 total yards to the Bobcats, the special teams unit was the biggest concern for Traylor after the game as there were multiple costly penalties and UTSA allowed 264 total return yards on the day.
Stephen F. Austin was off last weekend after opening the year with a 24-14 loss at the hands of UTEP on Sept. 5, but the Lumberjacks were very competitive in the contest, trailing by only three points to the Miners entering the fourth quarter. The defense held up well for Stephen F. Austin, but the offense managed just 230 total yards.
Saturday will mark the first-ever meeting between the two Texas programs, which are separated by less than 300 miles.
Stephen F. Austin at UTSA
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: UTSA -14.5
When Stephen F. Austin Has the Ball
It was a brutal offensive showing from Stephen F. Austin in Week 1, producing just 230 total yards against a UTEP defense that had ranked 119th in the country a season ago and was entering 2020 having to replace nine of its top 15 tacklers. The Lumberjacks turned it over twice and had the ball just 24 minutes.
The running game wasn't terrible, averaging 4.2 yards per carry on 23 attempts, but the Lumberjacks were forced to throw it as they fell behind early. Quarterback Trae Self threw for 133 yards and a touchdown but was unable to connect much with star sophomore receiver Xavier Gipson, who had just three catches for minimal yardage. That duo needs to be a factor Saturday if SFA is to pull the upset. On the ground, former Texas Tech transfer Da'Leon Ward should carry the load, but will face a tall task against a UTSA run defense that limited Texas State to just 3.4 yards per carry just one week after gaining 189 yards on the ground against SMU.
When UTSA Has the Ball
It came as no surprise to see UTSA lean heavily on the ground attack against Texas State last week given Jeff Traylor's previous experience as a running backs coach at Arkansas, but also because he has arguably the best running back in Conference USA in sophomore Sincere McCormick. The Roadrunners topped 300-plus rushing yards as a team, with 197 coming from McCormick as he set a new single-game record for the program.
When it wasn't McCormick, it was starting quarterback Frank Harris getting in on the action, rushing for 51 yards on 11 carries and a team-high three touchdowns. When UTSA decided to throw it, Harris was very proficient, completing 74 percent of his attempts for one touchdown and zero turnovers. Expect both players to once again be the focal point on Saturday against a Stephen F. Austin defense that allowed 212 rushing yards in Week 1 to UTEP.
There were some warts for UTSA in their opener, specifically on defense and special teams, but it was surprising to see the offense gel so quickly in the first game under head coach Jeff Traylor. Stephen F. Austin provides a perfect opportunity to get right on defense and fix some of the issues that plagued the Roadrunners in Week 1. UTSA cruises to an easy victory on Saturday behind the legs of Sincere McCormick and Frank Harris.
Prediction: UTSA 34, Stephen F. Austin 13
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Follow him on Twitter @MBainbridgeCFF.
(Top photo by Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics)