Well, a win is a win, and 57-0 is certainly a win. As good as last week’s win was, however, Army’s next opponent promises to be a little bit tougher. The Black Knights travel to San Antonio, Texas, to play the UTSA Roadrunners this Friday night.
This game marks the fourth time that Army has played in the Alamodome in the last decade. The last two match-ups came against UTSA in 2019 and 2020, plus the team played a Shamrock Series game against Notre Dame way back in 2016.
UTSA has had a confusing year. They started out almost beating Houston on the road, though Houston got a little help via some late-game hometown officiating. But then Houston lost to Rice just this past week. UTSA then beat Texas State — barely. Mind you, Texas State has never gone bowling but did beat Baylor in Week 1.
Oh by the way, Baylor nearly knocked off a ranked Utah team just this past week as well.
All which is to say that it’s been a weird year so far for the Roadrunners. It’s hard to gauge where they are as a team. This became abundantly clear when the spread moved from UTSA (-14.5) to (-8.5) from the time that lines opened Sunday night into this past Tuesday. Now, what looked like a potentially unwinnable game after Week 1 has turned into a potential opportunity for Coach Monken and the Army team to turn around their season.
Redshirt super-duper senior QB Frank Harris has been the big offensive threat that the Roadrunners possess. However, he got injured in the first half of last week’s game against Texas State, though he returned after halftime to lead his team to victory. Still, it’s unclear whether he’ll be available against Army on a short week. Even before the injury, though, Harris hasn’t looked the same this year. His passing numbers have fallen from 8.6 to 5.8 yards/pass, and his rushing has been a shadow of its former self. Against Houston, Harris threw just 1 touchdown against 3 interceptions. A week later, he threw just 1 touchdown again. It’s doubtful that Harris will be at full strength this week, but even before he got hurt, he wasn’t necessarily the same guy who led a two-time C-USA Championship juggernaut in previous years.
The real threat this week will be RB Kevorian Barnes. Barnes has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his first two games this season. Barnes didn’t play in the Army game last year, so we don’t know exactly how he’ll match up. Still, a player who averages almost 5 yards/carry will always be a threat. With Harris hobbled, Barnes will really have to carry the load this weekend.
With all of that said, UTSA has an outstanding offense. If Harris plays anywhere near his potential, this could become an ultimate bend-don’t-break contest for the Army defense. The Roadrunners are going to move the ball. Army’s defense will have to try to force field goals and generate turnovers more than they force punts. However, if Harris doesn’t play, or if he simply can’t move around or just doesn’t play well, then Army ought to be able to force enough actual stops to make this a winnable game for the offense.
On the flipside, UTSA’s defense has been outstanding so far this season. They’ve allowed fewer than 300 yards/game of total offense and just 1.9 yards/carry in the running game. Worse, they’ve recorded a whopping 9 sacks and *18* tackles-for-loss in just their first two games! It’s safe to say that this defensive line is stout. Plus, LB Trey Moore has picked up 4 of those sacks all by himself.
This defense will provide a serious test for the Army offense. In Week 1, the offensive line looked disjointed. In Week 2, they shifted the starters and got most of that cleaned up. But UTSA’s defensive front will be good bit more intimidating than that of Delaware State. So if Army doesn’t establish its presence at the line of scrimmage early, this game could turn into a defensive slugfest. If there’s one good thing about this UTSA defense for Army, it’s that they’ve yet to force a turnover.
𝐏𝐋𝐀𝐘𝐄𝐑 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐖𝐄𝐄𝐊— UTSA Football 🏈 (@UTSAFTBL) September 11, 2023
UTSA sophomore OLB Trey Moore has earned American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.
🔗 https://t.co/1x72WY2DoH#210TriangleOfToughness#LetsGo210 | #BirdsUp 🤙 pic.twitter.com/sFcrcgmndy
The Roadrunners have split the placekicking duties between kickers Chase Allen and Tate Sandell. Allen will probably get the nod going forward, though, because he has two field goals from 40+ yards this year. Meanwhile, P Lucas Dean averages 41 yards/punt with a 50+ yard punt already on the season. 33% of his punts end up inside the 20 yard line.
This game has two huge variables. First, will Frank Harris play, and if he plays, how will he look? Second, will Army’s offensive line be able to step up to the plate without cut-blocking?
Depending on the answers to those questions, we could see anything from a blowout loss to a relatively comfortable win. This game is one of the biggest question marks we’ve seen in a non-CiC matchup for quite awhile.
Pregame Frames pic.twitter.com/9fUoLDyXv4— Connor Waltz (@connor_waltz32) September 10, 2023
Follow the Game
The game kicks at 7:00 PM ET on the ESPN. You can also download the Varsity Network app to hear Rich DeMarco make the radio call. That’s often a good idea when Army winds up on the four-letter network.
Roll the Tape. Our Victory 🎥 pic.twitter.com/5fW9eLpDyK— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 12, 2023