UTSA Enters the Third Ward, Knocks Doors Down
The Roadrunners channeled the late Pimp C by coming into Houston’s new home and knocking their doors down in a dominating 27-7 defensive beat down. In a nationally televised affair, UTSA put the nation on watch with a display of defensive aptitude. Despite all the pomp and circumstance of the opening of a gorgeous new on-campus stadium, the much vaunted Cougar offense managed a mere 208 yards of offense, finishing with -26 rushing yards and six turnovers. Key to this defensive lock down was a relentless blitzkrieg from the UTSA defensive line that was able to provide consistent pocket pressure without blitzing linebackers. A laundry list of Roadrunners took advantage of a struggling UH offensive line to make plays in Houston’s back field. The big uglies amassed five sacks, six tackles for loss, and three quarterback hits. More importantly, the defensive line was able to get into Houston quarterback John O’Korn’s head early, causing the talented sophomore to deliver off-target throws all evening, four of which would become interceptions.
Quite simply, Houston failed to show up for this game. The Cougars failed to excel in any area of the game as they muffed a punt and whiffed on a deep snap that would give UTSA the ball on the Houston two yard line. Based on their head-to-head recruiting success over UTSA, Houston certainly has better athletes than the Roadrunners. That didn’t stop UTSA from consistently appearing as the more physical and tough squad as UTSA would dominate in the trenches and deliver some major hits in coverage. Perhaps most disappointing for Cougar fans, Houston was unable to establish a consistent connection between Deontary Greenberry and John O’Korn despite Greenberry using his stature to work his way to a few badly thrown balls. Dynamic slot receiver Greg Ward also failed to create big plays as he averaged just four yards per catch despite being covered by linebackers throughout the night.
Roadrunner fans will certainly be pleased with the result but there were a few areas of concern for the team. Tucker Carter looked downright unimpressive in his first start, leading to the coaching staff thinning the playbook to short passes and inside handoffs exclusively. Carter made several inexplicable throws and badly missed receivers on simple and short routes. I have often said that Carter doesn’t need to do more than protect the football and be a game manager. While Tucker proved my point last night in the win, it will be hard for this team to depend on the defense for every game this season. Carter will need to do a better job of distributing the ball to his playmakers and give the coaches more confidence in opening up the playbook to include option plays and deep passes. In Carter’s defense, he was missing two of his top targets in Kenny Bias (suspended for four games) and Brandon Freeman, who is expected to play against Arizona. The Grubb brothers and Marcellus Mack stepped up to combine for 83 yards and true freshman Kerry Thomas did a great job blocking on the edge before grabbing his first career catch. I’ll have a further post about this on Underdog Dynasty soon, but last night represented a youth movement for UTSA.
- I think UTSA has one of the best defenses in the country right now. The defensive line was stout and active while the secondary flew around and stepped in front of balls. If UTSA can eat up a supposedly elite offense like this then they are going to absolutely wreck Conference USA offenses. First-time starter Jens Jeters really impressed me with his speed and awareness. Houston has a ton of speed but they were not able to reach the edge, mostly thanks to Jeters’ closing speed from the Hawk backer position.
- Houston’s new stadium was gorgeous and much bigger than I expected but there are still some flaws that need to be addressed. The restrooms in my section didn’t have air conditioning and the concession stand ran out of food by halftime. I don’t know if they’re planning to add anything, but the tall concrete walls the separate the bleachers from the sideline are drab and unattractive. Adding a silhouette of the Houston skyline in the endzones was a smart idea but the execution is lacking as the red-on-red design just makes it look like an error in the turf.
- The fan interaction between UTSA and Houston supporters definitely had a real rivalry feel to it. There were some douchebags on both sides of course, but for the most part the passion and respect of a rivalry were there. I wonder if Houston will consider scheduling more games with UTSA in the future?
- Defensive game ball: Jason Neill. This award could go to the whole defensive line but Neill was the most outstanding in pursuit of O’Korn. It’s so great to see Neill finally fully healthy and better than ever. Don’t be surprised when Neill terrorizes offensive tackles throughout the remainder of the season.
- Offensive game ball: Scott Inskeep/Cody Harris. The unit as a whole played exceptionally well, especially in the second half. These two lead the way with great pass protection while also opening up holes for Jarveon Williams and David Glasco. Expect the offense to break out some huge runs once Carter’s ability as a passer is established and respected, opening up the second and third levels.
- Tailgate game ball: Matty, the Texas Fat Boys, the Rowdy Talk crew, the Well Beered Crew, and many, many more for setting up the biggest and baddest tailgate UTSA has ever thrown at an away game. We floated three kegs two hours before kickoff. Matty and I risked our lives to trek through the grime of the third ward to find a gas station where we would load up with eight more cases of beer. Those didn’t last long either. Robert and the Fat Boys did the damn thing on the pit and a good time was had by all. I’m looking forward to doubling-down on this at Rice.
A UTSA alumnus that has been cast away to Austin, Jared enjoys live music and a craft beer. He thinks four verts is the best play in football but loves a QB sneak on fourth and inches. Twitter