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I’ve made the trek back to Houston from West Point and finally have a chance to put this post together after furiously scribbling timestamps and notes on my phone throughout a long day of travel.
Given the self-inflicted wounds, it’s hard to feel totally at peace with this win, but it’s important to remember that Army is a program that has absolutely pummeled UTSA through their first two meetings. This win would have felt monumental just a year ago, but our expectations for this program are so much higher than they were the last time these two teams met.
The mental mistakes for UTSA actually started before the first play from scrimmage. Dadrian Taylor called for a fair catch after the ball struck the ground which is impermissible per section 8, article 3 of the NCAA rule book. I’m not sure if Army has a habit of short kickoffs or not, but the special teams mistakes are really starting to rack up for first-year special teams coordinator Justin Burke.
UTSA has six players to block eight defenders in the box on this fourth and one run. The play call looks to be zone right but the loaded box means there’s no opening for Smith to pick up a single yard. Trelon might have had a chance to bounce outside to the left but this play had very little chance of success from the snap. Army left an uncovered wide receiver out to the left, so Frank Harris should have audibled out of the play call. A bubble screen to one of those receivers could have been a big play.
Rashad Wisdom gets a free shot at the pitch man in the backfield but he doesn’t keep containment and instead fires at the slotback’s feet. This causes UTSA to lose the edge, leading to a big play for Army. This play shows that one missed tackle can turn a would-be huge play for the defense into a big gain for a triple option offense.
Wisdom makes up for the missed tackle by identifying the pitch play and bursting through the line of scrimmage to force the back to bounce outside towards the sideline. Nicktroy Fortune flies into the play to initiate contact behind the line of scrimmage, giving the rest of the defense time to swarm to force the turnover on downs.
Wisdom has his eyes in the wrong place twice on this touchdown throw. The first time he lets the slot back chip him but Wisdom continues to stare at the QB instead of his assignment. Safety help floats to the right side of the play, leaving Wisdom on an island with him already out of place. Then Wisdom compounds on the error by looking back for the ball instead of sprinting full speed to catch up with the speedy slotback.
Rare lack of blocking effort from a UTSA wide receiver on this play. Cephus doesn’t drive his feet at all and lets the defensive back drive him back into the play to blow it up. There needs to be a better display of physicality on this play, as Cephus “catches” the receiver instead of initiating forceful contact.
Weird to see Frank miss this badly. It was his second overthrown potential touchdown of the first quarter. The Army defender slipped, leaving Clark wide open for six. Frank just pushed this ball for whatever reason. He might have been throwing to a specific spot on the field as opposed to just putting it where his receiver can get it. Frank’s comfort and ball placement got better down the stretch of the game thankfully.
This is some grown man football from freshman Trey Moore as he stands up a huge tight end at the line, discards the blocker, then THUMPS the ball carrier for a loss on the player. Moore still has a lot of flaws in his game to work out but he’s showing the same flashes of talent as a freshman linebacker like we saw from Jamal Ligon in his freshman season. The Smithson Valley product has the makings of a future star.
Huge play from redshirt freshman Luke Lapeze playing the most important snap of his young career on third and eight. Lapeze is lined up at left guard where Army throws a stunt blitz at him. The young man handles it perfectly as he engages the lineman lined up on top of him at the snap, then adjusts to pick up the looping edge rusher as he makes his inside move, handing off the interior defensive lineman to Venly Tatafu at left tackle. This blitz pick up creates a running window for Frank Harris to take off running for a first down conversion on a big gain.
Embarrassing touchdown signal from the officiating crew. Listen to when the whistle blows on this play and where the actual ball is relative to the goal line at that point. I can’t believe they didn’t even review the play! Roadrunners got robbed here.
Woah, absolutely insane quickness off the line from walk-on defensive tackle Nick Booker-Brown. The NC State transfer saw snaps at both nose tackle and defensive tackle, and I think his performance today earned him more snaps. Booker-Brown just flies off the ball and combines that with good lateral quickness to move into the hole to snuff out the play.
Fabulous read and tackle from junior inside linebacker Avery Morris. After a slow start to his career, Morris has really come along this season, providing several good snaps off the bench through these first two games of 2022. With Harmanson playing his super senior season, Morris’s continued development is critical for the success of next year’s defense.
This was an extremely unflattering play for UTSA. Frankie Martinez simply lets an All-American edge rusher run right past him without a fight. Maybe Frankie just got beat that badly, but my suspicion is that he was expecting Smith to step up and help out with a double team off of Martinez’s right shoulder. It’s no secret that Martinez is at a physical disadvantage in most of his match-ups. UTSA needs to keep sending him help in pass protection, which is something that I think Will Stein and Matt Mattox are doing a great job of overall.
Biggest play of the game in my opinion. Incredible run from Frank Harris. Triangle of Toughness all over this one. Can tell Frank saw Clayton Tune pull this move off last week and had to give it a shot of his own.
Small sample size and all that, but UTSA’s offense was unquestionably better when Luke Lapeze was on the field. Now at right guard, watch Lapeze move the Army nose tackle off the point of attack, then work his way up to the second level to create a big rushing lane for Brenden Brady. This one likely should have been a touchdown, but Brady was able to punch it in just after this play. My only critique of the freshman on this play is that he didn’t hold his block through the whistle. Had Lapeze been able to latch on the linebacker for another second it would have been a guaranteed six points for the Roadrunners. I believe UTSA scored a touchdown on each drive that Lapeze was on the field.
I know I already talked about Nick Booker-Brown’s quickness but this play was simply too beautiful not to post. Booker-Brown lines up at the 0 tech directly over the center and fires off the ball so quickly the backside guard isn’t able to down block the A gap. Huge sack which caused a three and out for Army.
Great play call from Army creates a tough assignment for Jamal Ligon on this play. UTSA stayed in 1:1 coverage for pretty much the whole game and Army was able to take full advantage of the mismatches this created. Army’s slotback runs a vertical route that crossed with a tight end, putting Ligon in single coverage against the fastest player on the field. That’s just not a coverage assignment that’s going to go well for any linebacker.
What a difference Clifford Chattman’s 6’5″ frame makes on this play! I didn’t realize how well thrown this ball was until I rewatched the game. If Chattman was a typical 6’1″ safety this very well could have been a touchdown catch for Army.
I noticed this problem throughout the game but it only grew more egregious as the day progressed. Take a look at how far downfield Kevin Davis is when the ball is released on this run-pass option. The rulebook allows non-eligible receivers to be no more than three yards downfield on a pass play but Davis is at least five yards out on this play. UTSA needs to be mindful of this, lest they have a big gain wiped off the board with a completely avoidable penalty.
6’3″ JT Clark in man coverage against a 5’11” sophomore corner in the end zone? Yeah I’ll take those odds to win the game. Absolutely perfect toss from Frank, and an authoritative catch from JT.
This wasn’t the prettiest or the most convincing win you’ll see from UTSA this year, but it did tell us quite a bit about this team. We saw new players make significant contributions, both freshmen and upper classmen. Going down two touchdowns against Army is a death sentence for most teams, but the Roadrunners won their battles in the trenches throughout the fourth quarter to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.
It was great to see the run game pick up a bit after a rough showing against Houston. I think the rushing performance we saw from UTSA today is much more indicative of how the team will be able to run the ball in conference play.
That being said, the Roadrunners simply can’t commit this many mental errors and expect to repeat as conference champions. Between egregious kicking and return mistakes on special teams, lack of discipline in coverage, and missed blocking assignments in pass protection, UTSA made more than enough mistakes (and penalties) to deserve to lose this game.
It’s a big testament to the team’s talent and culture under Jeff Traylor that they were able to overcome all of that and beat a very strong, winning program many, many miles from home.
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