2021 record: 12-2 (+5 from 2020)
Texas Power Poll ranking: 2 of 12
The Roadrunners achieved numerous firsts in its 11-season history. UTSA won 12 games for the first time, which was good enough to claim a first-ever conference title. Jeff Traylor’s program started out 11-0 for the first time in program history, which earned the team’s first ranking in both polls. The players set dozens of school records.
UTSA won close games. The Roadrunners were down 21-0 in the first quarter against Memphis on Sept. 25. They held off a high-powered Western Kentucky team once in the regular season and against in the Conference USA championship game. They also beat UAB on a touchdown pass with one second left in the game on Nov. 20 to clinch a division title. Six of UTSA’s 12 wins came by eight points or fewer.
The offense was led by triplets. Quarterback Frank Harris, the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Offensive Player of the Year, threw for 3,177 yards, 27 touchdowns, and six interceptions on 66.1 percent passing. His favorite target, Zakhari Franklin, caught 81 of those completions for 1,027 yards and 12 scores. Running back Sincere McCormick ran for 1,479 yards and 15 touchdowns. All three hold nearly every single-season and career record at their respective position.
The offense averaged 36.9 points per game and converted 57 of its 63 trips to the red zone into scores. The offense only turned the ball over 13 times.
The defense was nearly as good. UTSA allowed 24.6 points per game. Safety Rashad Wisdom led the team in tackles with 88. He also defended six passes and forced a fumble. Clarence Hicks, who had an argument for C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, recorded a program-record 10.5 sacks to go with 37 tackles, three passes defender, one forced fumble, and an interception that sealed the regular-season win over Western Kentucky.
UTSA held opponents to 3.3 yards a rush and forced 26 turnovers to give the Roadrunners a plus-13 turnover margin. The defensive unit also recorded 33 sacks compared to only 21 allowed for a solid offensive line.
Even the special teams were noteworthy. Punter Lucas Dean averaged 45.2 yards per punt. Ten of his punts went for longer than 50 yards. Twenty-one pinned opponents inside the 20. Place kicker Hunter Duplessis made 24 of his 30 field goal attempts, including 10 makes from beyond 40 yards.
The best part of the season might have taken place off the field when UTSA ponied up enough money to entice Traylor to sign a 10-year extension worth $28 million dollars. His team outscored opponents 236-162 in the second half of games.
UTSA lost to San Diego State 38-24 in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl. The Aztecs torched the UTSA secondary. Lucas Johnson passed for a career-best 333 yards and three touchdowns, adding one on the ground. Wide receiver Jesse Matthews caught 11 of those passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson and Matthews broke Frisco Bowl records with those performances. UTSA is now 0-3 in bowl games.
UTSA rolled into Denton with an 11-0 record and the West Division title clinched. North Texas was 5-6 and needed a win against the undefeated Roadrunners to reach bowl eligibility. The Mean Green humbled UTSA on that meeting after Thanksgiving. North Texas won 45-23 to ruin a perfect season. The Mean Green ran the ball 60 ties for 340 yards and six touchdowns in the win. UTSA would lose two of its final three games following the bowl defeat.
Running back: A+
Wide receiver/tight end: A
Offensive line: B+
Defensive line: B+
BIGGEST OFFSEASON QUESTION
Can UTSA replace McCormick?
McCormick, a native of San Antonio, rewrote the record book at UTSA and is widely considered the best offensive player to ever wear a jersey for the Roadrunners. He rushed for 983 yards and eight touchdowns on 177 carries as a freshman. He rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a sophomore and a junior. McCormick leaves UTSA with 3,929 yards and 34 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 5.4 yards a carry in his career. McCormick opted out of the bowl game against San Diego State and entered the NFL Draft after his junior season.
Traylor likes to the run the ball. That was true when he was a head coach at Gilmer, and it’ll remain true despite UTSA losing its star running back and offensive coordinator. The Roadrunners won’t be as run-heavy in 2022 thanks to the return of Harris and a trio of star receivers headlined by Franklin. But that doesn’t mean UTSA won’t stay balanced offensively. Replacing McCormick won’t be done with one person. Expect the Roadrunners to utilize a committee of running backs, and the legs of Harris, to replace the lost production.
WAY TOO EARLY 2022 OUTLOOK
Expecting 12-win seasons and conference championships isn’t fair to a program that is still in relative infancy. The Roadrunners should be a contender in C-USA in 2022, but they won’t be the overwhelming favorite unless they can replace McCormick on offense and Hicks on defense.
The out-of-conference schedule will test Traylor’s program with a season-opener against Houston followed two weeks later with a trip to Austin to face the Longhorns. C-USA isn’t a top-tier conference, so that means the Roadrunners can win their division with another MVP season from Harris. Winning a championship is hard. Remaining a champion is much harder. UTSA will get every team’s best shot throughout the 2022 season. How will the Roadrunners respond to being the hunted rather than the hunter?
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.