UTSA is a program on the rise under second-year coach Jeff Traylor and contending for the Conference USA title is a reasonable expectation for 2021. The Roadrunners bring back a wealth of experience on both sides of the ball, including on offense where running back Sincere McCormick should challenge for All-America honors. The defense should easily be among the best in Conference USA. With defending C-USA champ UAB coming to San Antonio in November, Traylor’s team has the experience and favorable schedule to win the division (and overall league title) this fall.
Previewing UTSA's Offense for 2021
The Roadrunners welcome back 10 starters from a unit that jumped from No. 117 in scoring in 2019 (20.3 ppg) to No. 67 (28.2) under first-year head coach Jeff Traylor. Running back Sincere McCormick is coming off a season in which he set a school record with 1,467 yards (second in the nation) and scored 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He will again be the focus of the offense after earning first-team All-C-USA honors and finishing sixth in the country with 133.4 yards per game.
He will be running behind an offensive line that returns five starters and a strong blocking tight end in Leroy Watson. Left tackle Spencer Burford, center Ahofitu Maka and right tackle Makai Hart were all named second-team All-C-USA in 2020, and Terrell Haynes started UTSA's final five games.
Dual-threat quarterback Frank Harris returns after showing more consistency and staying mostly healthy for the first time. He lost his job for a brief time to Lowell Narcisse, but when Narcisse was lost for the season to an ankle injury, Harris returned and was solid. Harris threw for 12 TDs, ran for another nine and completed 64 percent of his throws.
At receiver, Zakhari Franklin (49 catches for 694 yards and seven TDs) and Joshua Cephus (58-547-5) return on the outside, with Sheldon Jones in the slot.
Previewing UTSA's Defense for 2021
The defense also showed tremendous improvement under the new coaching staff, lowering its points allowed from 33.9 to 25.7. All 11 starters are back from that unit, led by safety Rashad Wisdom. The junior was first-team All-C-USA after leading the team in tackles (95) and interceptions (four). He is the unquestioned leader and a physical player who always seems to be around the ball.
Corey Mayfield Jr. is back at one corner, and Ken Robinson will man the other after winning the job halfway through 2020.
Ole Miss grad transfer Charles Wiley led the team in tackles for a loss and will be the leader of a linebacker corps that returns all four starters. The other outside backer position will be manned by Clarence Hicks in rushing situations and Dadrian Taylor in passing situations. Inside, Trevor Harmanson and Jamal Ligon are back, but there isn't a lot of depth.
Along a deep and experienced line, big things are expected from Jaylon Haynes at nose guard if he can stay healthy. Defensive end Brandon Matterson had a breakout year in 2020, and Lorenzo Dantzler is back on the other side.
Previewing UTSA's Specialists for 2021
UTSA returns Conference USA's best punter and kicker. Junior Lucas Dean averaged 46.0 yards per punt, good for sixth in the nation, and kicker Hunter Duplessis was 17-of-20 on field goals, including one from 50-plus and two from 49. Steady Sheldon Jones will be the punt returner again.
UTSA will not face reigning East Division champ Marshall and gets reigning West champ UAB at home late in the season. Almost every major contributor is back from last year's team that went 5–2 in the league despite being picked near the bottom of the division in most preseason forecasts. It will be new territory for Traylor and his Roadrunners, who will not sneak up on anybody in the league and may also be capable of pulling off a surprise on opening weekend at Illinois.
National Ranking: 69
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(Sincere McCormick photo by Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics)