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- I hate to start out on such a negative note, but man did Josh Oatis put UTSA in a terrible spot today. First off, Oatis did a miserable job blocking the screen pass on the first play of the game, causing Josh Adkins to possibly break his collarbone. That wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Oatis get his quarterback smothered this year, and it wasn’t even the last time we would see it happen in the UAB game either. Oatis also killed a UTSA drive by jumping offsides to negate a critical first down at midfield. I’ll be shocked if Oatis keeps his starting job, as Makai Hart played much better in reserve. I’d be curious to know what weight Oatis is playing at right now, as he looks to be well over 350 pounds. That’s probably too much weight for UTSA’s quick-tempo offense, and certainly too heavy to be dancing with linebackers and pass rushing specialists.
- I understand why the staff stuck with Weeks at quarterback since Weeks’ skill set more closely matches that of Adkins, but Traylor and Lunney probably stuck with him longer than they should have. Weeks simply can’t read a complex defense fast enough to have success at this point in time. Hopefully Weeks continues to develop, but Narcisse’s running ability added a lot to the UTSA offense as UAB has been unable to defend dual-threat QBs this season.
- It feels weird to say it since he did give up some big catches, but I thought Antonio Parks actually had a really nice outing. He set the tone defensively for the Roadrunners by knocking Lucero to the ground to force an incompletion on his first attempt. Parks was a huge upgrade over Savion Harris at free safety and should be the starter going forward.
- Tyrone Nix called a fantastic game against UAB. Lucero’s three picks all were caused by UTSA either disguising coverage, sending a timely blitz, or moving the defensive backs around unpredictably. Nix brought pressure from lots of different launching points and kept the freshman quarterback thinking rather than reacting to what the defense was giving him.
- Lucas Dean deserves the Ray Guy award. Enough said.
- Alright, let’s break down the defense’s worst play of the game, Spencer Brown’s career-long 73 yard run to set UAB up for their first score. First off, it’s important to know that UAB is a zone blocking team. They love to have the “flow” of a play go in a set direction, then have the running back choose to follow that flow if a lane appears, or cut back if there’s nowhere else to run. UTSA knows this, and recognizes the zone blocking going from right to left (yellow arrows) on this play. The problem is, UAB is actually running a counter on this play, as they correctly expect UTSA to over-commit to the zone action. Charles Wiley flies into the backfield out of control, and whiffs on his tackle (red circle). This guarantees a positive play for UAB, but Jamal Ligon (purple circle) turns it into an explosive play by mis-reading the offense. Look at where Ligon’s eyes are in this screenshot. They should be locked into the backfield, as Ligon’s read on this play is Spencer Brown. Instead, Ligon puts his head down to try to fight off the block, completely unaware that UAB is running a counter here. By the time Ligon is off his block, Brown has already blown past the linebacker. With the first two lines of defense out of the play, Brown is off to the races.
- To make matters even worse, Corey Mayfield Jr. called Antonio Parks down into the box to stop the run after being baited by the wide receiver motion, leaving Rashad Wisdom alone in the secondary as a safety valve. Tariq Woolen also happens to be blitzing from the cornerback position, leaving his receiver out in the open to block Wisdom which gives Spencer Brown a completely open field in front of him. This is the exact type of tendency and defensive play call that an offensive coordinator dreams of when they call for a counter.
- Got to feel bad for Jordan Weeks. He didn’t look ready to play at all, and this is the second time in his career that Weeks was forced into playing time against an awfully strong UAB defense that tore him up.
- The announcers in this game were the worst I’ve heard in a long time. I think I got spoiled with all of these ESPN2 broadcasts.
- There are so many ways where I could imagine a scenario where UTSA pulls the upset. That starts with Harris or Adkins staying healthy, but if Dingle doesn’t drop an easy touchdown pass from Weeks in the opening drive of the game then it probably completely changes Weeks’ day through the air.
- It’s time to make a change at punt returner. Sticks Jones isn’t really bringing anything to the table as a return man which can be fine as long as he’s sure-handed. Sticks muffed a punt against UAB which should have been recovered by the Blazers. I’d like to see Julon Williams get a shot on punt return personally.
- Sorry, picking on Josh Oatis again. UAB sends an outside linebacker on the blitz. Oatis slides out to pick up the blitz, but his responsibility is the defensive end. He fails to block either one of them. Both defenders get to Weeks almost instantly to cause a fumble and turnover.
- UTSA’s failed goal line package near the end of the second quarter spelled their demise. Going away from Sincere McCormick just after he broke a long run coming off a UAB turnover was sinful, and the “Lo Package” isn’t as effective when the defense is in a goal line formation. Very disappointing decision making from UTSA here, I have no doubt that going under center and giving McCormick a full head of steam would have led to a touchdown over four attempts. Hell a QB sneak with Narcisse probably would have gotten the Roadrunners into the end zone.
- Clarence Hicks had just two tackles, and wasn’t credited with any TFLs, but his presence on the field made UTSA’s defense a lot better on Saturday. Hicks was regularly running around blockers, causing Lucero to speed up his reads, Brown to redirect out of his intended rushing lane, etc. Great performance from Hicks, even if the box score doesn’t show it.
- Great to see Dadrian Taylor back in action and making plays, notably a pass break up on fourth down to force a turnover.
- Check out Makai Hart here on the left of your screen. This play is a designed QB draw for Lowell Narcisse, and Hart wisely leads the pass rusher up the field to clear space for Narcisse. To put chamoy on top, Hart uses an open-hand swipe to completely pull his defender out of the play and allow Lowell to run for the first down. That’s a very, very savvy move from the JUCO transfer.
- Lorenzo Dantzler has finally gotten comfortable in this odd-man front. A standout last season, Dantzler was incredibly effective against UAB. His quickness and power helped him to be disruptive against both the run and pass, with his pass rush leading to BOTH Rashad Wisdom’s interception as well as Trevor Harmanson’s interception. Excellent work.
- Last week I pointed out that UAB was the first team UTSA has seen this year that had tight ends who could contribute in the passing game. The Blazers made good work with that unfamiliarity, regularly finding Gerrit Prince and Hayden Pittman up the seams where they towered over UTSA’s under-sized safeties. Once UTSA has receiving threats like this on offense they’ll be much improved.
- All in all, this is a really encouraging performance for UTSA. The Roadrunners were on their third/fourth quarterbacks, missing their back up running back, had an offensive lineman banged up, were missing the starting strong safety in the second half, and were without their best defensive player in Jaylon Haynes. UTSA still gave the best team in C-USA all they could handle, and were just a few plays away from taking the win on the road. Hard to complain, and I feel much more confident in this team’s ability to win games in conference play this fall going forward.
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