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Game Preview: #21 Longhorns welcome Traylor, UTSA Roadrunners to DKR

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HornSports Staff
HornSports Staff

Photo: Austin American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK

The #21 Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0 Big 12) lost a heartbreaker to the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide last weekend, and look to get back in the win column on Saturday as they host the University of Texas at San Antonio (1-1, 0-0 C-USA) on Saturday.  The Roadrunners lost their season opener to a ranked Houston Cougar team in OT but defeated Army last week in OT in West Point.  Roadrunner head coach Jeff Traylor is no stranger to the Texas program, serving as the special teams and tight ends coach under then-head coach Charlie Strong during the 2015-2016 seasons in Austin. These two programs have never met on the gridiron and Traylor will be looking to pull off a huge upset over an injury-riddled Longhorn team.

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian fully understands that UTSA is a very capable, experienced team but believes his guys have more than enough motivation to play well. "The noise is different this week. The noise last week was we can't play with Alabama. This week the noise is Texas has arrived and they are going to overlook UTSA. So we have something different to prove."

Saturday’s kickoff comes at 7:00 PM with the game being shown exclusively on Longhorn Network.

What: Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0 Big 12) vs. UTSA Road Runners (1-1, 0-0 Conference USA)
When: Saturday, September 17, 2022
Time:  7:00 PM CST
Venue: Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, Texas
Television: Longhorn Network
The Line: Texas -12.5

Last Meeting Between the Two Teams: Texas and UTSA have never played before

The Coaches

UTSA Roadrunners

Head Coach:  Jeff Traylor
Head Coaching Experience: 3rd year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at UTSA:  3
Career Record:  20-8
Career Record at UTSA:  20-8

Texas Longhorns

Head Coach:  Steve Sarkisian
Head Coaching Experience: 5th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  2
Career Record:  52-43
Career Record at Texas:  6-8

The Quarterback Conundrum

Injuries - Who Starts for Texas?

The Texas offense looked to be finding its stride early on in the Alabama game behind starting quarterback Quinn Ewers.  Then Ewers left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury after being driven by the ground by linebacker Dallas Turner. Hudson Card replaced Ewers and played a solid three quarters, giving the Longhorns a chance to win with under two minutes remaining.  Card injured his right ankle and was noticeably limping during the game but continued to play injured.

Early reports were that Ewers could miss up to six weeks.  Steve Sarkisian gave an update on Monday about the status of his quarterbacks, saying that they were both day-to-day. On Wednesday, Sark furthered that statement by saying that both Ewers and Card "got healthier as the week went on."  In Monday's press conference when asked about the status of freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy, Sarkisian quickly responded with "he's not healthy." 

That leaves Austin High and local product Charles Wright as the third quarterback on the depth chart.  According to Sarkisian, Wright was "ready to go if needed" should Card not have been able to continue play against the Tide.

Who starts on Saturday against UTSA?  Quinn Ewers is likely to miss several games simply due to the nature of his injury.  If Hudson Card's ankle has improved enough to where he can play without risking further injury, he will start. Card is a necessary commodity on the Texas offense at this juncture and he needs to get healthy sooner rather than later since Ewers could be out a handful of games.  The staff will not jeopardize his recovery by starting him if he hasn't made tremendous improvement.  In that case we would see redshirt freshman Charles Wright under center in his first career start.

The Traylor Effect - A Texas Affair

Jeff Traylor is about as widely respected in the coaching circle and particularly in the Texas High School Football coaching circle than you can imagine.  He started his head coaching career at Gilmer High School in East Texas, where he stayed for 15 years and won three state championships and was named Texas High School Coach of the Year for Class 4A four times.  After his time with the Longhorns he went to SMU and Arkansas where he served as an assistant head coach before taking the job at UTSA.

Traylor's staff will sound familiar to Longhorn fans, as many of them spent time on The 40 Acres.  His co-offensive coordinator Matt Mattox spent the 2016 season as the offensive line coach under Charlie Strong.  Co-offensive coordinator Will Stein was the offensive coordinator at Lake Travis when Hudson Card played high school football, and previously served on the Texas staff from 2015-2017.

Roosevelt Maggit Jr., Justin Burke, Pavit Patel and Tim Yoder are additional UTSA staff that have a connection to the Texas program through former employment or playing days.

Prolific Roadrunner Offense vs. Improved Texas Defense

The Roadrunner offense ranks 32nd nationally in total offense.  Led by redshirt senior quarterback Frank Harris, UTSA averages a whopping 476.5 yards per game.  Harris was named the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award National Player of the Week for his performance against Army, and Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive week.  Harris is the glue to the Roadrunner offense, and can beat you with his arm and his legs. His offensive line has had some trouble in pass protection and look for Pete Kwiatkowski's revamped defense to apply the pressure on Harris frequently.  Linebacker DeMarvion Overshown leads the team with 13 tackles (11 solo) and Jaylan Ford made his presence known last week with 10 tackles (6 solo) against the Crimson Tide.  The Texas defense allows 316.5 yards of offense per game and held Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young to just two touchdowns last week. 

Status of other Injuries for UT

The injuries to Hudson Card and Quinn Ewers suffered in the Alabama game garnered the most attention, but defensive back D'Shawn Jamison (ankle) and running back Bijan Robinson (shoulder) both were dinged up in the loss.  Robinson met with media members on Monday and said his shoulder hurts a little but he should be good by the middle of the week.  Not much has surfaced on the severity of Jamison's injury other than he is day-to-day.  Expect Robinson to assume his normal carry load against the Roadrunners and Jamison to return to the lineup if the only if his ankle injury has made big strides.  

Summary

While these two teams have never played before expect Saturday night to be interesting.  Given the unknown in who starts under center for Texas, UTSA will throw everything but the kitchen sink at Sarkisian to try and pull off the upset win at DKR.  The Roadrunners have played 10 games against Top-25 ranked teams in their 11-year history and are 0-10 in those contests. A win would unquestionably be the biggest in school history for the Roadrunners, while a win for the Longhorns would demonstrate team resilience and discipline after a heartbreaking loss to Alabama.

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