UTSA Roadrunners Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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UTSA Roadrunners Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the UTSA season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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UTSA Roadrunners Preview
Head Coach: Jeff Traylor, 3rd year at UTSA, 19-7
2021 Preview: Overall: 12-2, Conference: 7-1
Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
UTSA Top 10 Players | UTSA Schedule

UTSA Roadrunners Preview 2022

Head coach Jeff Traylor is putting together a powerhouse.

UTSA has been strong since entering life in the FBS world with five winning seasons since 2012 and three bowl appearances in the last six years. But it was Traylor – a first time head coach when he took over just before the 2020 season – who solidified the style.

Tough lines, balanced attack, aggressive defense that gets into the backfield, and no mistakes. UTSA was first in Conference USA in fewest penalties per game and No. 1 in turnover margin.

This year’s team might not have quite the same magic, but it’s got more than enough talent and returning all-stars to repeat as the Conference USA champion before going to the American Athletic Conference in 2023.

2022 is about to prove 2021 wasn’t a fluke – it was a jumping off point.

UTSA Roadrunners Preview 2022: Offense

The offense was tough, efficient, and it should be every bit as good again with eight starters expected back. The Roadrunners averaged 439 yards and 37 points per game, the ground game was the second-best in Conference USA, there weren’t a ton of turnovers, and moving the chains wasn’t a problem. As long as the downfield passing game is a wee bit stronger, expect even more production even though …

The star of the show is gone. Sincere McCormick was one of the nation’s most productive backs over the last few years, but he left early for the NFL – eventually getting picked up by the Las Vegas Raiders, but No. 2 back Brendan Brady returns after running for 308 yards and four scores.

McCormick, though, ran for close to 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns – that heavy lifting will likely be done by Trelon Smith, a veteran back from Arkansas who ran for over 1,300 yards and ten scores with the Hogs.

Everything works behind a line that should be among the best in Conference USA. Four starters are back – three of them were all-stars – around Second Team All-Conference USA center Ahofitu Maka as the anchor of a massive interior.

Frank Harris is back for what seems like his 14th year with the program – it’s his fourth year as the Roadrunner quarterback – coming off a Second Team All-Conference USA season throwing for close to 3,200 yards with 27 touchdowns and six picks, and finishing second on the team with 561 rushing yards and six touchdowns – he caught a TD pass, too.

He’s got a loaded group of receivers to work with. Zachari Franklin is back after catching 81 passes for 1,027 yards and 12 scores, Joshua Cephus caught 71 passes for 819 yards and six scores, and De’Corian Clark caught 52 balls for 755 yards and seven touchdowns. Include the return of TE Oscar Cardenas, and the passing game has its targets.

UTSA Roadrunners Preview 2022: Defense

The defense wasn’t as strong as the offense, but it did a phenomenal job against the run, allowed an okay 25 points per game, and it comes back strong with five all-stars and enough depth and transfers to play around with the alignment.

The secondary should be a plus. Tariq Woolen and his 4.2 speed at safety are gone to the Seattle Seahawks, but Rashad Wisdom is one of the nation’s best safeties who still flies under the radar.

He led the team with 88 tackles, the corner combination of Corey Mayfield and Ken Robinson made plenty of plays, and on the way is Nicktroy Fortune from West Virginia at corner and safety Quinton Cage from LSU to help fill in the gaps.

The inside linebacker combination of Jamal Ligon and Trevor Harmanson made 106 stops last year and should be a rock against the run again. They’re back along with Dadrian Taylor on the weakside to form one of the better groups in Conference USA.

Up front is 305-pound Brandon Brown on the nose – he held up with 23 tackles as the anchor of the line, and Trumane Bell is back on one end after finishing second on the team with five sacks.

Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
UTSA Top 10 Players | UTSA Schedule

UTSA Roadrunners: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

UTSA Roadrunners: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

UTSA Roadrunners: Key To The 2022 Offense

Be more consistent with the yards per carry.

Nitpicking time for a running game that averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 184 yards per game, but the offense was a tad hit-or-miss on generating yards in chunks early on.

Everything kicked in over the second half of the year – you’re doing something right if you’re averaging 4.9 yards per pop against that San Diego State defense – and the team won in the first half even without the big production. Even so, the offense failed to hit four yards per carry five times.

Now the ground game doesn’t have Sincere McCormick to carry the load. There are other good options, but for a running game that averaged 5.2 yards per pop in 2020, there’s still a little room to bump up.

UTSA Roadrunners: Key To The 2022 Defense

Tighten up the pass defense a bit.

Granted, teams threw to try keeping up the pace with the UTSA offense and to stay in games, and go ahead and blow off the outliers like the 1,100 yards given up in two games to the high-powered WKU passing game. However, the secondary allowed a few too many big plays.

The overall numbers weren’t all that bad, but eight of the last 11 teams on the schedule hit eight yards or more per pass and gave up multiple touchdown passes nine times.

Only 14 teams allowed more yards per pass. Getting that to around 7.5 yards per pop and life will be a whole lot easier.

UTSA Roadrunners: Key Player To The 2022 Season

PK Jared Sackett, Sr.
Hunter Duplessis was a huge part of the success last year.

He hit all 63 of his extra points attempt and 24-of-30 field goals in a First Team All-Conference USA season. He was a key part of the 31-28 win over Memphis, he played a big role in both wins against WKU, and the two field goals in the 34-31 win over UAB were a big deal.

Sackett started out his career at UTSA – he hit 33-of-41 field goals – left for Arkansas, took off for USF where he hit 5-of-7 field goals and didn’t play last year, and now he’s back with the Roadrunners.

If he can hit 19-of-22 field goals like he did in 2017, he’ll win UTSA at least two games.

UTSA Roadrunners: Key Transfer

RB Trelon Smith, Sr.
The Roadrunners have rushing options, but they don’t have Sincere McCormick around. A rotation would be nice, but a lead runner the caliber of Smith might keep the production going.

He started his career at Arizona State and didn’t do too much, but he was terrific in two years at Arkansas with 1,308 yards and ten scores, averaging over five yards per carry. There’s a whole lot of tread on the tires to be a workhorse as well as a dangerous all-around back.

UTSA Key Game To The 2022 Season

at UAB, Nov. 5
It was the moment when UTSA showed it really was the best team in Conference USA. Sure, the two wins over WKU were a big deal – actually winning the C-USA Championship proved that – but the 34-31 win over UAB to get to 11-0 was special.

This time around it’s coming off a week off, and considering WKU has to come to the Alamodome, this might be the only time in conference play that UTSA is the underdog.

UTSA Roadrunners: 2021 Fun Stats

– Penalties: Opponents 112 for 906 yards – UTSA 71 for 713 yards
– Sacks: UTSA 33 for 254 yards – Opponents 21 for 130 yards
– Kickoff Returns: Opponents 43 for 1,004 yards – UTSA 8 for 198 yards

Offense, Defense Breakdown
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
UTSA Top 10 Players | UTSA Schedule

UTSA Roadrunners Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

UTSA Roadrunners Season Prediction, What Will Happen

Why can’t this all keep on going?

The Roadrunners got great play on the lines, enough talent is back on the offensive side to keep the running game going, and there are good parts returning on the defensive front seven to keep getting into the backfield.

The receivers might be the best in Conference USA, Frank Harris is one of the league’s best quarterbacks, and overall there are more than enough all-stars to make another push for a second straight title before bolting for the American Athletic Conference.

The lighter league without Marshall, Southern Miss, and Old Dominion doesn’t hurt.

Set The UTSA Roadrunners Regular Season Win Total At … 8

It won’t be another 11-0 start like last year – dealing with Houston, at Army, and at Texas to kick things off will end that idea before it gets started.

However, the Roadrunners should roll through the Conference USA schedule with WKU, North Texas, and Louisiana Tech at home, and with a week to prepare and get ready for the road trip to UAB.

It might seem a tad disappointing after seeing the top of the mountain with a 12-2 run, but getting to at least eight wins and another Conference USA Championship appearance – and a bowl game – would be a strong year before taking the step up in conferences.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
UTSA Top 10 Players | UTSA Schedule

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

Story originally appeared on College Football News