The University of Texas at San Antonio Road Runners finished the 2021 season with an overall record of 12-2 and a Conference USA record of 8-1. The 2021 season marked the first time UTSA has ever won the Conference USA championship. The shootout win over Western Kentucky 49-41 in front of a home crowd at the Alamodome in San Antonio was arguably the biggest win in school history. UTSA faced off against San Diego State in the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl losing by a score of 24-38 to the Aztecs. The Road Runners finished just outside of the top 25 in the final college football rankings for the 2021 season. UTSA’s lone loss in the regular season came at the hands of North Texas, a 23-45 loss on the road ending the Road Runner’s bid for a perfect regular season record and to make an argument for a playoff berth.
The UTSA Roadrunners are led by head coach Jeff Traylor who has over 30 years of coaching experience at the high school and college level. 15 of those years were spent as head coach at Gilmer high school where he led his team to 5 state title appearances and three titles. Traylor refined his craft as an assistant coach at the collegiate level with stops at Texas, SMU, and Arkansas before landing the head job at UTSA. Traylor was hired at UTSA in December of 2019 and has a 19-7 record at UTSA and is 0-2 in bowl games. Traylor and his staff have built the football program up from a sub 500 team to conference champions going largely unnoticed by much of the college football world. In the two years prior to Traylor’s arrival the team went 7-17.
UTSA had a loaded roster in 2021 with playmakers on both sides of the ball. Sincere McCormick led the rushing attack for the Road Runners carrying the ball 298 times for 1,479 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging 5 yards per carry. Zakhari Franklin and Joshua Cephus led the high-powered receiving corps with a combined 1,846 yards and 18 touchdowns and quarterback Frank Harris completed just over 66% of his passes for 3,177 yards and 27 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions. Sincere McCormick left school as a junior to enter the NFL draft. The draft came and went however, without McCormick’s name being called and he ultimately ended up signing with the Seattle Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent.
So, what is next for the Roadrunners after an historic season in 2021? For starters UTSA has announced that it is leaving Conference USA along with Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, and UAB to join the American Athletic Conference (AAC). When this move will occur is still up in the air, but the move could come as soon as 2024. In the meantime, the Road Runners will continue to play in Conference USA and look to defend their conference championship. UTSA will open the season at home against the Houston Cougars on September 3rd. The Road Runners will then go out on the road against Army and then head to Austin for an instate showdown against the Texas Longhorns. Other notable games include a rematch against North Texas and two conference road games against Middle Tennessee and UAB, respectively.
It will be difficult to duplicate the success of last year as the offense has to replace most of the offensive line including Spencer Buford who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round as well as replacing one of the nation’s best running backs of 2021. The Road Runners defense must replace star cornerback Tariq Woolen who was drafted in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks. The good news for UTSA fans is that dynamic quarterback Frank Harris and his top two receivers, Zakhari Franklin, and Joshua Cephus all return from last season’s high powered, conference winning offense. This will be year three under head coach Jeff Traylor which should result in increased efficiency as the team has had time to absorb and fully implement his system. Some of coach Traylor’s initial recruiting class should begin filling out the roster. These players were selected specifically to fit his system and should yield immediate benefits. The Road Runners have the number 60th ranked recruiting class for 2022 according to rivals.com including four-star DB Zah Frazier from Hutchinson, Kansas as well as several other three-star recruits on both sides of the ball.
I look for the UTSA Road Runners to carry the momentum from their 12-2 season into the 2022 football season. I expect the offense to continue to manufacture points and boast impressive stats with their high octane offense. I expect the defense to take a step back after having to replace six starters from last year but they will still be above average. While UTSA does not duplicate the success or results from last season, I expect them to overachieve and go 9-3 and claim a signature victory over the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium (DKR) in Austin.