Story by Calvin White/ Sports Editor
After making national headlines last week in their upset over then No. 25 ranked Miami, Rick Stockstill and the Blue Raiders have shifted their attention to defending Conference USA champion UTSA.
The Roadrunners enter Friday night’s contest as the defending conference champion after a 12 win season in 2021 that helped UTSA crack the Top 25 and made them one of the last unbeaten teams in all of college football.
In his Monday press conference, Stockstill praised UTSA and what head coach Jeff Traylor has built.
“San Antonio, obviously, is a very good football team,” said Stockstill. “They’re the defending conference champions. Not probably, but they have the best quarterback that we’ve faced so far this year. Defensively, the thing that stands out the most is just how fast they are at every position. Their defensive line is big and athletic, they can run. Their linebackers and DBs are really fast guys also. It’s a really talented team.”
With the return of all conference quarterback Frank Harris along with wide receivers De’Corian Clark, Joshua Cephus, and Zakhari Franklin, the UTSA offense is averaging 351.5 yards per game through the air for an average of 37 points per game.
“They’re getting more opportunities this year because they are throwing the ball more than they did last year,” said Stockstill. “They are all catching quick screens, fast screens, they’re all catching that. They’re throwing deeper balls down the field. You can’t look at one and say he’s their guy. They’re all involved in the offense.”
To gain insight on UTSA football, Sidelines sports editor Calvin White sat down with Luke Lawhorn, sports editor of the UTSA student newspaper, The Paisano.
1. UTSA returns 15 of 22 starters from last season. What kind of advantage does that give them?
Lawhorn: A huge advantage. For starters, Frank Harris is the starting quarterback. He’s a fifth year senior and you can just see the maturity level. They’ve been in so many close games this year including back to back overtime games against Houston and Army so they’re very battle tested. The maturity and the swagger is there.
2. With all the returning talent on the roster, who are some guys that MTSU fans should pay attention to?
Lawhorn: Number one is quarterback Frank Harris. Going into the game at Texas, he was number one in the nation in total offensive yards because he’s a dual threat quarterback. The top three receivers in Conference USA all start for UTSA. With Joshua Cephus, De’Corian Clark, and Zakhari Franjlin, they have a three-headed monster at receiver.
3. MTSU is expecting a packed house on Friday night, what are some things that UTSA will have to do well in order to leave Murfreesboro with a win?
Lawhorn: They definitely have to clean up the penalties. They’ve been getting about 10 penalties per game. Going into a hostile environment, they’re going to have to be disciplined from the start. Every game UTSA has played so far has been close except for Texas Southern and even then, UTSA was only leading by three at halftime. They have to hit Middle Tennessee in the mouth early and not have to dig themselves out of a hole.