Presented by Pat Clynes and The Fritz Kennel in Houston, TX
Highlights from UTSA’s Media Round Table 10.31.16
By Jerry Briggs
Davenport Targeting Upheld
UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport must sit out the first half of Saturday's game at Middle Tennessee State, a Conference USA official said in an email.
The official said a targeting call against Davenport last weekend has been reviewed.
"The play was reviewed and Marcus Davenport's suspension for the first half of the Middle Tennessee game has been upheld, per targeting rule," the spokesman said.
Davenport was flagged for targeting and was ejected in the fourth quarter of UTSA's game against North Texas.
The call came after Davenport hit North Texas quarterback Mason Fine, who had just released a pass.
UTSA coach Frank Wilson said Monday morning that the athletic department asked he conference to review the call.
The coach said after reviewing the play himself that he didn't think there was "an intent" by Davenport to hit the North Texas quarterback in the helmet.
UTSA (4-4, 3-2 C-USA) will play on the road Saturday at Middle Tennessee (6-2, 3-1).
Davenport is one of UTSA's top defensive players. He ranks second on the team in quarterback hurries with six, third in sacks (2.5) and fifth in tackles (38).
UTSA Offense/Defense Shine in Redzone
UTSA has moved into the top 20 nationally in both red zone offense and defense.
When the Roadrunners have the ball, they've made the most of their chances inside the opponents' 20-yard line, scoring 92.3 percent of the time, which is tied for 13th in the latest FBS statistics.
Playing defense inside their own 20, the Roadrunners have also played well, holding teams 74.2 percent, which is tied for 19th.
Both came into play last weekend in a 31-17 victory at home over North Texas.
The Roadrunners scored all four times in the red zone, including three touchdowns. On defense, they held North Texas to 2-for-5 on chances inside the 20, including a field goal and a touchdown.
"Our defense did that time and time again this past week, bending and not breaking, and even creating a turnover," UTSA coach Frank Wilson said.
King Newton forced a fumble by North Texas running back Jeffrey Wilson at the end of the half, a loose ball returned 59 yards by safety Michael Egwuagu.
"That's huge for us," Wilson said. "Then from an offensive standpoint, to get down there and score … we’re cashing in there, like we should."
Wilson Wary of Explosive Middle Tennessee
First-year UTSA coach Frank Wilson on Monday called the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders "maybe the most complete team" on the schedule to this point in the season.
The Roadrunners (4-4, 3-2) will face the Blue Raiders (6-2, 3-1) on Saturday in a Conference USA road game at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Three skill position players ranked in the top ten in the national FBS statistics lead a Middle Tennessee offense that averages 40 points per game.
Quarterback Brent Stockstill is tied for sixth with 26 TDs and ranks seventh in passing yards with 2,667.
Richie James is eighth in receiving yards with 1,032. Running back I’Tavius Mathers is tied for sixth in rushing TDs with 12 and eighth in rushing yards with 1,088.
“Throw three veteran offensive linemen in there and you got you a quality offensive team,” Wilson said.
Wilson also likes the Middle Tennessee defense, including a veteran line, though the Blue Raiders have given up 35 or more points in their last three games.
As Wilson discussed Middle Tennessee's prowess at his weekly media session, one reporter remarked, "doesn't sound like you should even play the game, coach."
“Oh, we're going to play," Wilson said. "But we do recognize what’s before us. We acknowledge it. We respect the team we’re playing. But but make no doubt about it, we’re going to strap up and we’ll be prepared to play.”
FRANK WILSON TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS (Courtesy UTSA)
On the challenges Middle Tennessee presents …
“They're good all over the place. Offensively, their quarterback (Brent Stockstill) is the epitome of game management, efficiency and production. I think he has about a 27 or 28 to five touchdown to interception ratio. He does a very good job of getting the ball out of his hands. They're a spread team with 10 personnel and RPO that has great balance. They have three leaders in the top 10 in the nation. He is in passing. I think he's about seventh. Their running back has over 1,000 yards and I believe is fourth, and then their receiver, number three, is eighth in the country. So you have three of the top 10 at their position, respectively. They have veteran offensive linemen who are dynamic players, as well. It's a balanced offense that will put a tremendous strain on a defense, because they make you defend the entire field."
On if this is the best team they will face this season to this point …
“Yeah, I think this may be the most complete team. They're a veteran team on defense, as well. They have nine upperclassmen, four or five of them are fifth-year players — not even just fourth-year players, but fifth-year players up front. They're pretty good. Their starting defensive end is a veteran, and I mean in a sense of retired military after doing four or five years of service. He's a very mature player, very good player. Their back end, they set it up by Jeremy Cutrer, who I recruited out of high school twice. He was committed to us at LSU at that time. He's a Thorpe Award finalist and every bit of 6-2, long arms, one heckuva player. They're good offensively. They're good defensively. They're a complete team."
On getting young players into games this season and the benefits he's seeing of doing that …
“Experience is the best teacher. We knew it would take them some time to get where they needed to be. At times we had to slowly manifest them into the rotation. We played some other guys early on just because we needed to adapt them into the system properly and not just thrust them out there. They've picked up and gotten better week-by-week. They have continually improved and they're more confident. They communicate a lot better now. They're understanding things. The game has slowed down for them, and so it's allowing them to play with a lot more confidence right now."
On the confidence of the veteran players, especially on defense, as the season has gone along …
“It's a different defense, so it was new to everybody to be honest with you. A veteran guy just knows how to decipher and key in on things that are most important, where to younger guys early on it was just a plethora of things and so much to try to consume. When we talk about those guys, and we visited about this last week with the linebacker corps with La'Kel (Bass) and Josiah (Tauaefa), yeah they're returning players but they're not veterans with experience. Baylen Baker is not veteran. King Newton is not veteran. Even if they're not true freshmen, we're playing so many guys who it's new to. I think we're beyond that now. We're a more mature team by game experience and it's allowing us to play more effectively right now."
On if there is anything Josiah Tauaefa does that surprises him, specifically the play where he hurdled the running back to get the sack against North Texas …
“We continually challenge our team. They continually challenge themselves individually. We needed a stop and they had been adding on with a running back to assist in blocking him. You get beyond the linemen and there was an additional back that would pick him up, and so he figured it out. There has to be a way that you can get beyond this guy and you have to beat him. The guy came to block him low and he went high and made a very good football play, a very head's-up play by adjusting or countering what the offensive guy was doing. It's getting routine and that's a good thing, and so it doesn't always surprise me anymore. It's becoming routine."
On the offense being physical and taking shots …
“We're running the ball effectively. We're throwing the ball efficiently. At this time, it's where we're at — the ability to take shots on people and create some mismatches, put our receivers in position to make plays, but also to be able to line up and have a physicality about ourselves. That's the DNA of our football team from day one in Bird Cage drills that we implemented in spring football, that we had to be a physical football team to be able to hold on and finish games. The more we're able to do that, the better off we'll be to finish games. I like our identity right now."
On the red zone success of both the offense and defense …
“Thursday is our red zone day for us. Like every situation, two glaring things that stood out in this game that's a part of our identity. One is red zone and to be able to get down in there and score, and then when we're backed down in there to be able to defend. Our defense did that time and time again this past week, bending but not breaking, even more so from a goal-line standpoint, and creating a turnover. That's huge for us. From an offensive standpoint, to be able to get down there and score, I think we were at 100 percent in the red zone area, and we have been (good) throughout the duration of the year in that area. I think we had one or two early this year where we didn't (score), but outside of that we've been able to cash in when we need to. A lot of that offensively can be attributed to the special teams and the defense getting short fields, and that's a good thing. To be able to get results is a better thing. It'd be a shame to get down there and not get anything out of it, but we are. We're cashing in just like we should during those times. The next thing is to be plus four and to win the turnover ratio, to get the ball out of there from a defensive standpoint, and to hold on to it and protect it from an offensive standpoint. When you can be effective in the red zone offensively and defensively, and when you can win the turnover margin, you give yourself a chance."