Preliminary thoughts on Texas versus UTSA

Eric Nahlin09/14/22
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(Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

I just got done talking to Bobby for the State of the Program YouTube video. This is essentially a summary for those coveting transcripts.

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UTSA is going to spread the Texas defense out this week. Not only does it play to the Roadrunners’ strengths (QB and WR) but it also protects against their weaknesses (OT’s) if they can get the ball out quickly. It also tests Texas’ zone coverage, which started to crack in the 4th quarter on Saturday albeit against a Heisman-winning quarterback and elite receiving talent.

The Roadrunner offense reminds of Tom Herman’s Houston teams. Frank Harris isn’t as dynamic as Greg Ward Jr., and the receivers aren’t quite as athletic as those on the successful Cougar teams, but they are dangerous. The Texas D-line will need to zero in on No. 0 and keep him in the pocket. He’s not a better athlete than Bryce Young but he’ll be more likely to run the ball out of need to create numbers in the run game, or to evade the rush.

Army, of all offenses, accumulated quite a bit of yardage in the passing game, but I’m not sure how any of that translates to Texas. The Black Knights had four receivers with a reception of over 40 yards, but how much of that was due to poor discipline defending an Army offense Texas won’t resemble? That written, Texas will likely test UTSA’s ability to find the running back out of the backfield. Not only did UTSA struggle in that department, but Texas has the weapons out of the backfield and schematic versatility (passing from diamond formation?), plus the throws are typically easy for the quarterback.

Overall, UTSA was not all that sharp up in West Point. Some of that is attributable to their plane being late which led to them missing their walk-through and meetings on Friday night, but overall they had issues like 10 men on the field on defense and special teams at several junctures, coverage mistakes, and other mental mishaps.

UTSA didn’t appear all that fast on defense, either. Though they were deep on the defensive line, they’ll probably want to shorten the bench versus Texas similar to what UT did with at EDGE versus Alabama.

They’re going to be multiple on offense and defense. They’ll test UT’s discipline with formations and probably with trick plays. They ran a hook-and-ladder versus Houston within the normal flow of play (something Herman would do, too. Ugh).

UTSA has proven to be a mentally resilient team versus both Houston and Army. They didn’t even lead against Army until 7:00 minutes were left in the 4th. Then, they missed a field goal that could have won it. Still, they regrouped and won the game in overtime. 

This is a game Texas should win relatively easily because of advantages on both sides of the line of scrimmage and also in space. Like I often say, the North Shores and Duncanvilles don’t beat you because they have superstars. They beat you because their 10th best player is better than your 3rd or 4th. That describes this game.

If the defense shows up with the intent and focus it did in the first two games, it shouldn’t matter who starts at quarterback for Texas.