Four Down Territory 11.2.16

Presenting a weekly post in which InsideRunnerSports’ JJ Perez tackles four burning topics facing UTSA this week. Presented by the law firm of Saucier & Smaistrla PLLC.

Presented by the law firm of Saucier & Smaistrla PLLC.


How good did Saturday’s win vs North Texas feel to the Roadrunner faithful? UTSA hit rock-bottom after last year’s loss in Denton. With the Mean Green riding a wave of momentum this season, it appeared like it would be an uphill battle for the ‘Runners. But like the old saying goes, that is why you play the games. UTSA’s offense started fast and was consistent throughout. Defensively, the Roadrunners gave up some yards but held when needed. It was a definite bend but don’t break effort. And even special teams were solid. The Southern Miss game may be the measuring-stick game of how well this team can perform, but that effort last week vs North Texas isn’t too far behind. It was a total team effort with UTSA making plays in every phase in the game. If the Roadrunners can string together a few more efforts like that this season, watch out.

A season low 19,553 fans showed up for UTSA vs North Texas. Historically, the Saturday before Halloween is the least attended game of the season. Additionally, the San Antonio Spurs opened their home schedule at the nearby AT&T Center that day. But even with that, 19,553 is a very low number. The knee-jerk reaction to the low attendance number is that the team isn’t winning. Well, the Roadrunners won two straight earlier in the season and only 23,633 fans showed up for the homecoming game vs UTEP. Through five games this season, UTSA's average attendance is 22,884. Last season, when the ‘Runners won only three games, their home attendance averaged 23,008… Coming into this season, I was one of the believers of the notion if you win, they will come. And while UTSA has had their on-the-field struggles this season, the improvement they’ve shown has been significant. The fan base is re-energized and there’s just an overall positive feeling surrounding the program that hasn’t been there in several years. But that has yet to generate higher attendance figures. The days of 30,000 in the ‘Dome seem so long ago but last season’s home-opener vs K-State was just under that figure. It’s a hard phenomenon to explain. The students, alumni, and die hard fans have seemed to buy into this new era of UTSA football. I guess it’ll just take the general public some more time to come around. Keep building, and they will eventually come.

Watching the play live, I did not think UTSA Defensive End Marcus Davenport did anything wrong when putting a hit on UNT QB Mason Fine last week. Davenport, who was flagged for targeting, was ejected from the game. Because the penalty occurred in the second half of the game, Davenport will also have to miss the first half of this week’s game. On Monday morning, head coach Frank Wilson said the team had filed an appeal with Conference USA to overturn the suspension. Hours later, CUSA upheld the ruling. Does anyone else think that happened a little fast? Not to say there is some conspiracy theory going on because there isn’t. But let us be honest with what goes on in these type of situations… often times conferences are more concerned with saving face instead of doing what’s right. On Tuesday, Coach Wilson said they’ve accepted the decision of the conference and have moved on. Taking the high road is the right thing to do as a head coach. So I applaud Coach Wilson for sticking up for his player while being respectful. As far Conference USA, let’s just say that officiating has been suspect this season, to say the least. And it only hasn’t been with UTSA. All across the conference teams have been faced with terrible calls. In this situation for UTSA it basically boils down to the fact that Marcus Davenport is 6’7” and UNT QB Mason Fine is 5’11” and the hit, which appeared to be text-book, seemed more vicious than it actually was. UTSA and Davenport are now penalized for that. That does not make sense to me.

So this is what it’s come down to… UTSA needs two wins in their next four games to become bowl eligible for the first time in program history. The Roadrunners travel to Middle Tennessee this week to face the Blue Raiders. Odds makers have UTSA as much as a 20.5 point underdog. That’s the biggest point spread we’ve seen since UTSA was listed as a three score underdog against Southern Miss earlier in the season. If you remember that game, UTSA had their best performance of the season and came away with the upset win. As I wrote earlier, that’s why you play the game. But playing a morning game at home vs traveling across country to face one of the top teams in CUSA is a little bit different. MTSU is likely the most complete team (outside of Texas A&M) that UTSA will face this season. Their offense is ranked nationally in several categories. But their defense gives up some yards and points. I’d expect a shoot out Saturday in Murfeesboro. With two road games looming vs La Tech and Texas A&M in the coming weeks, you know that UTSA has this game (as well as the La Tech game) circled. Five wins isn’t going to get the Roadrunners into a bowl and it’s hard to guess what will happen in College Station on Nov. 19. So for UTSA, their postseason hopes come down to these next two weeks vs MTSU and La Tech. Win or go home.

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