Presented by Pat Clynes and The Fritz Kennel.
By Jerry Briggs
TAUAEFA NAMED POW
On Monday redshirt freshman Josiah Tauaefa was named Conference USA’s defensive player of the week for his effort during the Southern Miss game.
The north Texas-native led the team with 12 tackles on Saturday. He also intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter along the goal line to help seal the win.
“I've just been very pleased with his attention to detail, his studying of the opponent,” Head Coach Frank Wilson said of Tauaefa. “You saw that last Monday when it was 8 or 9 o'clock and we have players on their own, volunteering to come in and watch film. They want to know our opponent best, and he's one of those guys that's a film rat. He just wants to put himself into position to make plays."
Tauaefa has recorded a team-high 58 tackles this season. According to UTSA, that is the most among FBS freshman. His 11.6 tackles per game average is third in the nation.
WILSON TOUTS PLAYERS
UTSA coach Frank Wilson applauded his assistant coaches and players for embracing the "60 minutes" concept last week, which led to a 55-32 victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
Wilson likely will emphasize the same points this week during preparations for the Rice Owls. UTSA (2-3, 1-1 in Conference USA) plays at Rice (0-5, 0-3) in Houston Saturday at 6 p.m.
Against Southern Miss, UTSA rolled to school records in total offense and rushing yards. The Roadrunners also set standards for scoring and margin of victory against FBS competition.
"Our game plan was to play for 60 minutes and finish," Wilson told Mike Taylor on KTKR radio. "In previous games we flashed a quarter, a series, a half, but we had never put together 60 minutes. We challenged our team to be able to do that.
"I attribute it to the players and the assistant coaches for demanding it and (to) the players for embracing it. Fortunately in all three phases, things just kind of lined up for us."
UTSA is 1-3 against Rice, including 0-2 in games played in Houston.
WARY OF SLUMPING RICE
After generating significant momentum with a dominant victory over Southern Miss, the UTSA Roadrunners don’t want to let any of it slip away this week when they travel to meet the winless Rice Owls.
The surprising Roadrunners play the slumping Owls at 6 p.m. Saturday in Houston.
UTSA coach Frank Wilson on Monday called Rice a “dangerous” team that can’t be overlooked.
“They’re dangerous, especially because (of their) quality coach,” Wilson said.
Also, because veteran Rice coach David Bailiff has had extra time to prepare.
The Owls (0-5, 0-3) were off last weekend while the Roadrunners (2-3, 1-1) whipped the Golden Eagles 55-32 at the Alamodome.
“(Bailiff) has done a great job for all the years he’s been there,” Wilson said. “They’re at home and they’re hungry for a win. They’re in the top 3-4 in our conference in rushing. The defensive ends, they come off the edge and rush it. They have downhill, physical guys ...
“It’s not like people are just doing whatever they want against them. Although they haven’t been successful in winning the (games), they’re a quality football team, and they’re going to require us to be at our very best.”
If the Roadrunners weren’t at their best last week, then they came close.
In the sixth year of the program, they scored a school-record number of points and established a record for margin of victory against FBS opponents.
They also set school records for total offense and rushing yards in snapping a troublesome three-game losing streak.
On top of that, they did it against one of the conference’s traditional teams, one that had claimed the C-USA West division title last year.
“It felt good,” UTSA senior Jarveon Williams said. “We knew it was going to be a big game. The fact that our team showed up and was ready to play, it meant a lot.”
UTSA could take another step in its development if it can win at Rice.
The Roadrunners have never beaten the Owls in Houston, losing at Rice Stadium in both 2012 and 2014, and they haven’t won or played well on the road this season.
In two road games thus far, UTSA’s offense sputtered with zero points in the second half at Colorado State and then gave up too many big plays, turned it over twice and made eight penalties at Old Dominion.
OFFENSE JOINS SELECT LIST
UTSA made history of sorts with its big-play performance against Southern Miss, becoming one of seven FBS teams since the year 2000 to gain 500 or more yards in 50 or fewer plays, according to a database at sports-reference.com.
In rolling to a 55-32 victory over the Golden Eagles Saturday afternoon at the Alamodome, the Roadrunners produced a school-record 532 yards on only 47 plays.
The last team to do it was Florida State in 2013. Playing against Syracuse, the Seminoles registered 523 yards on 45 plays.
Others on the list were Western Michigan (518 yards in 48 plays) against Eastern Michigan; Michigan (574-45) against Indiana and Northern Illinois (646-49) against Eastern Michigan, all in 2010. Also, Louisville (553-50) against Oregon State in 2005 and Northern Illinois (514-46) against Miami of Ohio in 2002, according to the database.
Note: UTSA safety Nate Gaines was shaken up and had to come out for examination by trainers in the third quarter against Southern Miss. But he returned to finish the game.
Gaines said he suffered a stinger. "It wasn't as severe as it looked," he said. "I was fine. I got checked out by the trainers. Everything looked good, so I just went back in."
Frank Wilson Interview Excerpts
On the challenges Rice will present
“David Bailiff is a class act. Year in and year out he gets his teams prepared to win. They'll be coming off a bye week, and I'm more than sure they'll be prepared to play a really good game at home. The reality is we haven't shown the ability to go to Houston and be victorious there, so that's something we certainly desire to do. They run the ball very well. They're a solid football team, so we'll need to be prepared to play them well."
On playing well at home and being able to duplicate that on the road
“We have to just transfer it from one place to another. It's the same thing. It's the same distance of a field, and that's part of our growing up. I'm glad you said that because we haven't shown the fortitude to do that, so that's another step we have to take."
On what the film from the Southern Miss game showed him
“(It showed) an offensive line that played in conjunction with one another, that communicated effectively, and you see so by their heads and by their gestures pointing out things. They worked in unison together. You saw backs make people miss in space. You saw receivers go and catch contested balls. You watch a quarterback that was 10-of-12 and that was very efficient in his throwing. Defensively, you saw a defense make the highest-powered offense in our conference try and go the distance and not give them big play after big play that they have been used to. In order to do that, we had to tackle well. We kept them in front of us and we tackled well. Certainly they are a quality football team, so they were able to score some points, as well, which we expected. We just wanted to position ourselves not to give up big plays and to do the things that we are trained to do, and that is to tackle well and make them earn it, not give them anything."
On sustaining and building upon the success from the Southern Miss game
“It becomes part of our DNA. It's kind of like someone decides I'm going to go on a diet. It can be our diet or it can be your way of life. And so our way of life is going to become 60 minutes, four quarters and finish until the end. It's not a fad or some trick we're going to do one time and not again. We'll consistently build that into our DNA."
On the play of Jalen Rhodes
“For him, a lot of it was his health. We knew he was knicked up early on and even in the first game, and so the games following, now I think he's healthy enough and we're gelling at the same time as a team and an offensive line to allow him to have success."
On Jarveon Williams getting his first 100-yard game of the season
“Same thing with him. As the team goes, the offensive line goes, everything else will fall into place — the run game, the pass game, protection. Big men lead this team, so whether it's offense or defense, big mean are going to dictate the tempo and temperament of our football team."