Houston vs UTSA: Week 1 Games to Watch

On September 3rd, there could be a shootout at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio when the Houston Cougars come prowling and growling to take on the Roadrunners of UTSA.

Both teams posted 12–2 records and played in their conference championship games. Houston came up short against Cincinnati in the AAC title game, while UTSA beat Western Kentucky for the title in Conference USA (C-USA).

There are talented skill players on both teams and that bodes well for a potential high scoring affair in week 1.

The Houston Cougars

The Offense

In 2021, Houston lost in week 1 to Texas Tech, then reeled off 11 straight wins before losing again to Cincinnati in the AAC title game.

The Cougars scored 40 or more points seven times last season and will be led on the field again by QB Clayton Tune. Tune had a breakout year in 2021, passing with 3546 yards, 30 TDs, and 10 INTs (in 420 attempts). He averaged 253 yards per game and completed 68% of his passes.

In fact, Tune posted seven games where he completed 70% or better of his passes. In a 54–42 win over South Florida, he completed 21 of 26 passes (80%) for 385 yards and 3 TDs, and zero INTs.

His season high was 412 yards, 4 TDs, and zero INTs in a 44–37 win over SMU. He completed 73% of his passes in that game.

Tune will have his main target back in WR Nathaniel Dell. Dell caught 90 of Tune’s passes for 1329 yards and 12 touchdowns. Dell was named 1st Team All-AAC last season.

In the win over SMU, Dell caught 9 passes for 165 yards and 3 TDs.

The Cougars suffered a severe blow to their rushing attack when they lost RB Alton McCaskill for the season after he suffered a knee injury in Spring practice.

McCaskill was coming off a 2021 season where he rushed for 961 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. So now, it is next man up.

That man is Ta’Zhawn Henry, who rushed for 513 yards and 7 TDs in limited action.

The Defense

The Cougars return six starters plus other contributors for a defensive unit that was ranked in the Top 20 in and coached by Doug Belk:

  • Total Defense #6 (301 yards/game).
  • Pass Defense #18 (194 yards/game).
  • Rushing Defense #10 (107 yards/game).
  • Scoring Defense #19 (20 points allowed/game).
  • Sacks, Tied for #6 (43 sacks).
  • Tackles for Loss #12 (98 TFLs).

Houston recorded 14 INTs and were +8 in turnover margin.

The starters (in BOLD) and contributors are:

DE Derek Parish: 54 tackles, 12 TFLs, 5 sacks, 2nd Team All-AAC.

DE D’Anthony Jones: 17 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 6 sacks.

DE Nelson Ceaser: 22 tackles, 4 TFLs, 3.5 sacks.

LB Donavan Mutin: 77 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, 2nd Team All-AAC.

CB Jayce Rogers: 21 tackles, 2 TFLs, 2 PBUs, 1 forced fumble.

SS Hasaan Hypolite: 44 tackles, 1 INT, 3 TFLs, 1 PBU.

FS Gervarrius Owens: 52 tackles, 2 INTs (1 TD), 4 TFLs, 3 PBUs, 1st Team All-AAC.

CB Alex Hogan: 27 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 PBUs

CB Art Green: 18 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBUs

The Cougars defense racked up 13 tackles for loss against UCONN, 3 INTs in a game against Rice, Tulsa, and Temple, and eight sacks and 12 TFLs vs Tulane.

UTSA Roadrunners

The Offense

The Roadrunners won 11 straight games to start the season before finally losing to North Texas. The very next week, they beat QB Bailey Zappe and Western Kentucky 49–41 for the C-USA title.

The 2022 version will have eight starters back on an offense that scored 36.9 points per game last season, good enough for #11 in the FBS.

QB Frank Harris is back to lead the Roadrunner attack behind an experienced offensive line that returns four starters. Harris passed for 3161 yards, 27 TDs, and 6 INTs (in 399 attempts). He also rushed for 561 yards and scored six rushing touchdowns.

Harris completed 28 of 38 passes (73%) for 349 yards and 6 TDs, with only 1 INT in 52–46 win over Western Kentucky in their first meeting early in the season.

UTSA returns all three of their top receivers from last season: Zakhari Franklin (81 catches, 1027 yards, 12 TDs), Joshua Cephus (71 catches, 819 yards, 6 TDs), and De’Corian Clark (52 catches, 755 yards, 7 TDs).

The Roadrunners will have two newcomers at running back after losing major production from Sincere McCormick (1479 yards, 15 TDs), who is off to the NFL.

The Defense

UTSA returns five starters plus other contributors for a defensive unit that ranked 14th in the FBS in rushing defense:

NT Brandon Brown: 23 tackles, 3 TFLs

NT LaMonte McDougle: 11 tackles, 1.5 TFL

DE Brandon Matterson: 23 tackles, 1 TFL

LB Jamal Ligon: 63 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT

LB Trevor Harmanson: 57 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT

CB Corey Mayfield: 37tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack, 2 INT

SS Rashad Wisdom: 88 tackles (led the team), 4 TFL, 1st Team All-CUSA

This unit recorded 5 sacks against Middle Tennessee State, 6 sacks vs UNLV, and 2 INTs in the title game win over Western Kentucky. They also recorded 10 tackles for loss in consecutive weeks against Rice and La. Tech.

Houston vs UTSA-The Series

These teams have only played each other twice and the series is split 1–1.

2014: UTSA 27 — Houston 7

It wasn’t pretty but the Roadrunners got the win. Houston committed six turnovers and were held to just 26 yards rushing. UTSA racked 115 yards in penalties.

2013: Houston 59 — UTSA 28

This game was tied 21–21 at halftime. Then Houston blew the game wide open in the 2nd half, outscoring UTSA 38–7. Both teams combined for 54 first downs and 984 total yards.

Houston forced five UTSA turnovers (including 4 INTs). Houston QB John O’Korn threw for 312 yards and 4 TDs. WR Deontay Greenberry caught 9 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.

This game featured a 96-yard INT returned for a touchdown and a blocked FG that was returned 78 yards for a score.

Houston and UTSA are two of the top Group of Five teams going into the 2022 season, and this game will be a must see for college football fans.

Thanks for reading.

Material for this article was sourced from cfbstats.com, sports-reference.com.

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Tony Thomas

Tony Thomas

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I’m a Grandparent, military veteran, and college football junkie. I operate the website thegridironnews.com. Email: amichael0864@yahoo.com.