Game preview: No. 21 Texas v. UTSA

Game preview: No. 21 Texas v. UTSA

The Matchup

#21 Texas (1-1) v. UTSA (1-1)

When :September 17, 2022

Gametime: 7:00 PM

TV: Longhorn Network

What’s at Stake:  The Texas Longhorns are coming off a hard fought loss in which they took mighty Alabama right to the edge before conceding a game clenching field goal with seconds remaining.  Following the effort Texas has garnered a lot of respect, and a top 25 ranking, checking in at #21.  These positives did not come without a cost however, as the status of starting quarterback Quinn Ewers is unknown following a shoulder injury, and backup quarterback Hudson Card is also nursing a leg injury.  For Texas this game against UTSA is a chance to show that the performance against Alabama was not a fluke.  If Texas can back up one strong performance with another it shows progress in what, in recent years,  has been an inconsistent program. A lackluster game against UTSA means more of the same old routine, and could mean a loss against the Roadrunners.

When the Longhorns have the ball:  The Roadrunner defense is undersized and very quick, they can create negative plays and cause problems in protection.  Versus Houston the UTSA front was able to produce 4 sacks and 8 tackles for loss, they did concede 37 points, but 13 of those came in the overtime periods.  If there is a weakness in this defense it may be in the backend, they have given up 5 passing touchdowns including 2 versus Army last week.

The threat of Texas’ running game should force UTSA to play honest and what we saw last week from Texas creating big plays in the passing game should cause nightmares for the Roadrunner secondary.

The real question is at quarterback for Texas.  Earlier in the week Steve Sarkisian said that both Ewers and Card were day-to-day, but it is hard to imagine we will see Ewers this week.  Card did step in and play well, but with an injury of his own it is difficult to know what to expect from the position.  Redshirt freshman Charles Wright will start at quarterback if both Ewers and Card are unavailable.

When UTSA has the ball:  Offense is the strength of this Roadrunner team.  Sixth year senior Frank Harris provides veteran leadership and has been posting big numbers, throwing for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns a piece in his first two games.  Arizona State transfer Trelon Smith should see the most action at running back, and Harris’ three favorite targets from last season return in Zakhari Franklin, Joshua Cephus, and De’Corian Clark.  The running game has not clicked yet, but the veteran presence in the passing game will be dangerous.

The weak link in the Roadrunner offense is up front, the offensive line has not gotten on track in run blocking and has had issues in pass protection too.  This should provide opportunities for the Texas front that harassed Bryce Young last week.  

Key Horns to Watch:  With injury issues at quarterback this could be a good week to feature the Texas running game in Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson.  A powerful running attack will take pressure off an injured or inexperienced quarterback and get Texas through the week.

Last week Texas’ defense was outstanding.  They were fast, physical, and  not intimidated by the opponent or the moment.  For Texas to be a real championship contender, in the Big 12 and on the national scene, that kind of performance will have to become the expectation, not the exception.  If the Horns can contain the veteran offense from UTSA, and make a statement doing it, it is one more indicator that the program is truly on the rise.

The Bottom Line:  Texas showed last week that they have the talent to stand with the big boys, if they match that effort they should handle UTSA with little problem.  But Texas fans have seen this show before.

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