UTSA No.15 Aims For C-USA West’s First Title Against UAB | Sports
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – UTSA coach Jeff Traylor has admitted the pressure of being undefeated and an overwhelming favorite took a toll on the Roadrunners in a narrow victory last week over Southern Miss.
Now the pressure is really mounting.
UTSA welcomes reigning US Conference champion UAB to the Alamodome on Saturday. The Roadrunners’ dream season and the league’s West Division title are on the line. The UTSA No.15 (10-0, 6-0 C-USA) is aiming for his first conference title but is tilted four times in a row against the Blazers (7-3, 5-1).
“To be a champion you have to beat the champions and the champions will come here on Saturday,” Traylor said. “Winning first is always the hardest part. “
UAB has won three consecutive C-USA West titles and two of the previous three conference championships.
In their 10th season, the Roadrunners have already set program records for total points and wins and are eligible for the second consecutive season. UTSA, Georgia and Cincinnati are the only unbeaten FBS teams.
The only thing the Roadrunners haven’t done is win a conference or division title, but momentum has built up for this game.
“They have had an incredible season,” said Blazers coach Bill Clark. “Coach Traylor did an incredible job. We have seen this thing build.
UTSA’s only victory over UAB came in 2013, the Roadrunners’ second season and their first in C-USA. The Blazers have since won four in a row averaging 20.3 points, including a 52-3 win in 2018.
“I would rather have that kind of pressure than not have any pressure at all,” said Roadrunners wide receiver Zakhari Franklin. “It was a moment in my life that I will not forget, forever.”
To do this, UTSA will have to provide a better effort than on November 13 against Southern Miss. The Roadrunners trailed 17-10 in the third quarter and had to rally to escape with a 27-17 win over the Golden Eagles (1-9, 0-6).
“I think our children feel the burden and the weight of this city and know that they have a responsibility to have this program overturned and that it should not be on men between the ages of 18 and 23,” Traylor said. “These kids should be having a blast.”
Traylor said UTSA could simplify their game plan and play against UAB faster to ease the pressure.
The Roadrunners will build on an offense that has scored 386 points this season, eclipsing the school’s record of 379 points in 13 games in 2016. UTSA quarterback Frank Harris had 2,306 yards and 20 touchdowns and junior Sincere McCormick rushed for 1,150 yards and 11 TD.
“Offensively they’re very dynamic,” said Clark. “They have the great running back. I have a quarterback who can do anything, he can run, he can throw. Big front, big tight ends, big receivers, they are explosive.
The Roadrunners are averaging 446.1 yards per game, but the Blazers limit their opponents to 321.3.
“They’re very physical, they’re big, they’re in the top 25 statistically in defensive end in every category,” said Traylor. “It’s going to be a real whale of a ball game on Saturday.”
DO NOT EAT CHEESE
UTSA was selected to finish second behind UAB in the West in a preseason poll of members of the media. For UTSA, the increased expectations were also a warning not to “eat the cheese” and fall into a trap.
Traylor first warned the Roadrunners against complacency and adhering to any hype after their 51-48 victory over rival Texas State on September 12, 2020.
“It was a different kind of questioning back then,” Traylor said. “After we turned the state of Texas upside down, we went out and bought rat traps for everyone. Nobody fell for the trap.
The Roadrunners have embraced the “Don’t Eat Cheese” mantra as they enter this season. Images of blocks of cheese, mice eating cheese, and rat traps are plentiful in the UTSA training center.
CLOSED FOR THE GAME
UTSA senior tight end Leroy Watson has become one of the most popular players in the history of the program. He’s funny, selfless – and he knows how to cook: Watson’s wings and Alfredo Cajun chicken dishes have become firm favorites with UTSA players and coaching staff.
“(His teammates) decided to come and steal some food one day,” Watson said with a laugh. “They told me I should probably try to sell. I decided, why not.
Watson formed an LLC and opened “Leroy’s Kitchen”. His business is on hiatus this season as the Roadrunners try to win their first C-USA title.
“They got mad at me,” Watson said. “I haven’t been able to (cook) since we made so much, but I’ll probably start doing it next month.”
The UAB’s only loss to C-USA was to Rice, 30-24, in the Blazers’ return game on October 23. UTSA defeated Rice 45-0 at the Alamodome in their seventh game of the season.
THE MAN OF THE PEOPLE
Traylor handed out treats to UTSA students this week, as was his tradition before home games. Traylor handed out slices of pie this week after handing out cookies, tacos and pizza in the past.
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