SAN ANTONIO – Jeff Traylor wanted his UTSA squad to avoid eating cheese after an upset road-win against Illinois in the season opener. It was the second win over a Power Five team in program history following a 2017 win at Baylor. Traylor introduced the phrase “don’t eat the cheese” after UTSA beat Texas State in 2020. He even placed mouse traps around the facilities to etch the message into his players’ mind.
Traylor changed up his strategy prior to the Week 2 home game against Lamar, a 54-0 win at the Alamodome. Instead of going back to his mouse traps, Traylor brought in some experts after practice during the week. Doctors familiar with constipation arrived on campus to explain to the players that eating too much cheese causes constipation because of the amount of fat in the product. It was the first shut out ever recorded by UTSA. The 54 points scored was the second most in program history, trailing the 56 points scored in a win over Northwestern State in 2012.
“We’ve had total buy-in from the very beginning,” Traylor said about his team. “They haven’t bucked me one time. I’m very grateful they let me coach them the way I do.”
The Roadrunners looked lactose intolerant in the blowout win over Lamar, moving to 2-0 prior to the start of Conference USA play next week at home against Middle Tennessee State. UTSA wasted no time building a lead. Sheldon Jones returned a punt for a touchdown, the second in program history, before the Roadrunners touched the ball offensively. UTSA would add a pair of field goals to take a 13-0 lead into the second quarter.
UTSA broke the game open in that second quarter. Running back Sincere McCormick scored twice and became the program’s all-time leader in career rushing touchdowns with 21. Charles Wright returned a fumble 44 yards for a touchdown to provide the Roadrunners with a touchdown in all three phases by halftime.
The reserves played for the entirety of the second half after the UTSA defense allowed zero points and 56 yards in the first half.
Expectations are high at UTSA following a 7-5 record in Traylor’s debut season of 2020 despite a pandemic that eliminated spring practice and summer workouts. The Roadrunners are now among the favorites to win Conference USA for the first time in program history. A 10-win season isn’t out of the question and a bowl game feels like an inevitability. The team is just now overcoming the handicap of learning new systems during a pandemic.
“There couldn’t have been a worse time (than the pandemic) to take over a program,” Traylor said. “We probably only installed a third of the offense, defense and special teams. We kept it simple the whole season because we didn’t want to mess them up. It was tough. We could have been 12-0 or we could have been 2-10. We were in every ball game. We could’ve won them all, and we could’ve lost most of them.”
The success shocked outsiders. How did Traylor get seven wins out of a team in year one without the normal access to spring ball or summer conditioning?
Traylor contributes it to work ethic and continuity. Most of the star players were in year two of the program in 2020, recruited a cycle or two earlier by the departing Frank Wilson. Traylor also saw a team ready to do what it took to win. There’s not a single underclassman in the two-deep for UTSA on offense and defense.
That momentum carried over to 2021. The result was the biggest win in program history in the 37-30 victory over Illinois. The sports books and pundits might have felt surprised. Traylor and his team were not.
“They showed me that work every day, so it didn’t surprise me. That’s how they are at practice. That’s how they are in the weight room,” Traylor said. “They’ve been great with us. We’ve all bought in, including the coaches. I kept everybody on the staff, so there is a lot of continuity right now as a result of that.”
This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.