Zakhari Franklin UTEP 2022

Film Breakdown: UTEP 2022

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The rivalry series between UTSA and UTEP has rarely failed to entertain, and last Saturday’s final meeting certainly delivered. Despite UTEP playing their best game of the season in pursuit of a bowl bid, the Roadrunners stilled proved to be too much to handle for the out-matched Miners even after building a 24 point lead.

Just when we think we’ve seen everything that Jeff Traylor’s team is capable of, they find new ways to surprise and impress us. Setting a new program record for biggest come-back win, this performance may be the biggest display of UTSA’s culture.

Apologize for the limited clips and the poor quality. Stadium did not post a replay for this game as they typically do, so I had to rely on highlight videos from social media.

The Miners’ first score of the game was an ugly display of defense for UTSA. I’m struggling to tell if UTSA is in zone or man coverage (never a good sign!), and the Roadrunners both freeze to protect the run on play action, as well as sell out with a blitz. It almost looks like different defenders got different play calls. UTEP leaks their fullback out off play action, with two UTSA defenders in position to cover him. Instead they run into each other, then fail to catch the fullback from behind to give up a touchdown.

That’s the UTSA secondary we’re all too familiar with unfortunately. These massive communication mishaps are this team’s biggest weakness for the second season in a row. Nicktroy Fortune gets absolutely burned on a double move, while Ryan Shockency gets caught in la-la land, dozens of yards away from the only downfield receiver. I know depth is an issue for UTSA’s safeties right now, but there’s really no excuse to be so far out of alignment on this play.

Shout out to Patron Conner for the tip on this one. If you look closely you can see all five offensive linemen for UTEP commit blatant holds on this crafty delayed quarterback draw from Calvin Brownholtz. The holding seemed to be an intentional game plan from the Miners as I noticed the holding decreased once Jeff Traylor went ballistic on the referees over the holds and the Miners started to draw flags for holding.

Nonetheless, holding is part of the game and the defense has to make due. UTSA’s defensive line was too passive in the first half of the game and didn’t work hard enough to get off of their blocks or “sell” the holds to draw flags from the officials.

UTEP’s fullback delays his release on a route to draw the linebacker out of the play, leaving just safety Kelechi Nwachuku as the only defender left in the tackle box. One broken tackle and it’s off to the races. UTSA’s constant blitzing gave Brownholtz constant rushing lanes to escape through for big gains. I don’t think UTSA spent much time preparing for Brownholtz and his ability to run the football.

The Roadrunners’ first score of the game came on one of Frank Harris’s best throws this season. Josh Cephus takes off in motion then cuts up field on a wheel route which UTEP had no prayer of covering. Absolute expert quarterbacking from Harris to look off the safety with a pump fake to the down receiver, then hit Cephus perfectly in stride to allow him to continue running at full speed on his way to the end zone. If Frank had thrown this ball any earlier, or placed it any shorter, Cephus likely would have been caught by the safety.

This is the play where momentum finally start to shift back towards UTSA. The Roadrunners needed a stop desperately and super senior Dadrian Taylor delivered when it was needed the most. Brownholtz and James Tupou clearly weren’t on the same page here, with Tupou perhaps missing the audible at the line of scrimmage. It’s always an interesting strategy to me when opposing teams try to use a lot of audibles at the line of scrimmage when playing in front of a big Alamodome crowd.

Dadrian jumps on the errant pass then breaks the ankles of a tight end. Take a good look at the unbelievable block Trey Moore delivered on Brownholtz, driving the quarterback twenty yard downfield, then pancaking him onto the ground. Other than the potential 14 point swing, this play also had a clear emotional impact on the Miners as Brownholtz lost a bit of his confidence and swagger following the pick six.

I think most UTSA fans expected to see two or three full seasons of Tykee Ogle-Kellogg making plays like this but if you had to pick a time period in the young man’s career for him to finally begin to reach his potential then it would have to be the home stretch of a potential conference championship and bowl game.

Frank Harris does a masterful job of stepping up into the pocket to avoid pressure (credit to Baty for running the defender out after getting beat initially) then fires a rocket to Tykee downfield. Tykee shows incredible focus to grab the ball over an out-matched freshman for a big gain. I believe it was at this point that the UTSA coaching staff decided that their game plan for the rest of the afternoon was to simply throw the ball to wherever #14 was lined up on defense. It worked.

There’s #14 getting cooked yet again on a disgusting route from Zakhari Franklin. Kinda unfair to the freshman to get this assignment with no safety help. UTEP never learned from this and kept leaving the kid on an island all night to get absolutely cooked.

Interesting play here as we see Ronald Triplette lined up at the defensive tackle position he was recruited to UTSA at. The Roadrunner coaching staff moved him to outside linebacker earlier this year, providing a big boost to the run defense. It looks like Triplette is still going to get reps at defensive tackle on clear passing downs, as he executes a swim move and delivers a crushing hit on this 3rd and 19 off-tackle run.

Underrated moment in Saturday’s win — Jeff Traylor showing faith in Jared Sackett to hit a season-long 51 yard field goal. Made all the difference at the end of the game. Had to have been tempting to either punt or go for it on 4th and 9.

Frank gets a little greedy on this throw as he locks in on Tykee Ogle-Kellogg early in the play despite some pocket pressure and an open check down to Kevorian Barnes. Harris shows great technique to work up the pocket to avoid the pressure, narrowly avoiding a strip sack. Frank buys time for Tykee to get open, then delivers the ball over the top of the defense. Bonus points for Tykee delivering the stiff arm to add insult to injury and evaporate UTEP’s 24 point lead.

Second trip to the red zone (or near it) that the Miners leave without points due to turnovers. Jimmori Robinson isn’t able to get to the quarterback but he does a great job of using his long wing span and keeping his hands up to disrupt Brownholtz’s passing lane. Robinson deflects the ball and sends it skyward, then Clifford Chattman shows great patience and ball skills to wait just long enough for the ball to descend before leaping up to grab the interception. Always nice when a 6’6″ guy tips a pass that gets intercepted by a 6’4″ guy. Clifford Chattman has interceptions in three straight games and is quite possibly UTSA’s most improved player this year.

The deep throws to Cephus and Tykee show Frank’s timing and anticipation, but this amazing throw to Franklin shows how much Frank has developed his arm strength. 2020 Frank Harris isn’t making this throw, and I’m skeptical 2021 Frank Harris does as well. From the left hash to the right sideline, Frank gets it to Zakhari quickly as he shakes #14 for UTEP again. Great running after the catch puts UTSA in position to tie the game.

Game Balls

Tykee Ogle-Kellogg – A fan favorite who fell out of the wide receiver rotation for a bit, Tykee has fought through a lot of trials and tribulations at UTSA. Many players of his caliber would have soured on the program or sought a new home. Tykee never stopped supporting his teammates, and is now serving as a game-changing player when UTSA needs him the most. What a beautiful journey for Tykee.

Jared Sackett – Have we taken Sackett for granted this year? Despite all of the Special Teams Player of the Week honors and delivering game-deciding kicks against Army and UTEP I still feel like Sackett isn’t getting enough love. Another guy who has had a storybook journey throughout his college career.

Frank Harris – This guy is a cyborg man. Turned his ankle early in the game, then comes back in and leads a 31 point swing to deliver a perfect conference slate for UTSA and the first Top 25 ranking of the season. Mr. 210 is a damn legend.

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