This week, the UTSA Roadrunners will be looking to put an end to their three game losing streak by winning their first game in over a month, after coming off of their first bye week of the season. They will be facing the Georgia State Panthers, who started their football program just a year before UTSA and are coming off a double-overtime victory over South Alabama. That’s the same South Alabama team that UTSA took into two overtimes earlier in the year, so this is sure to be an exciting matchup.
UTSA’s defense will have their work cut out for them as they try to contain Georgia State’s running game, with starting RB Donald Russell looking to replicate his record-breaking performance that netted him 136 rushing yards last week. The pressure will be on backup linebackers Cody Rogers, John Walker III and Blake Terry to fill in for the injured Steven Kurfehs, who is the team’s leading tackler and the clear choice for defensive MVP through seven games.
The pressure will also be on the pass defense, who have struggled against the deep ball all season. Hopefully this is something they’ve worked on during the bye week, because the Panthers’ leading receiver, sophomore Albert Wilson, is averaging 25 yards per catch and put up 175 yards and two touchdowns on only five receptions against South Alabama.
Offensively, look for the Roadrunners to try to establish the running game early. In the South Alabama game, the ball was spread pretty evenly between Chris Johnson, Evans Okotcha, and David “El Magnifico” Glasco II, who each had either seven or eight carries. However, all three of those running backs, along with true freshman tailback Tevin Williams, were injured either before or during the UC-Davis game and the Roadrunners struggled to move the ball on the ground. The coaching staff has made it clear that all of them are expected to be ready to play by Saturday, but we’ll have to wait and see if they are all really at 100%.
This week could also mark the long-awaited debut of offensive lineman Patrick Hoog, who had previously been ruled out for the season with an ankle injury that required surgery in late August.
This is a game that’s really tough to predict. Both teams are 2-5 this year and took South Alabama to double-overtime, so they appear to be pretty evenly matched on paper. I think Georgia State will get out to an early lead, taking advantage of the inexperience of UTSA’s linebackers with Kurfehs missing, but safeties Nic Johnston and Mauricio Sanchez will take over in his absence and force a couple turnovers to put the momentum in UTSA’s favor. The home-field advantage will prove too much for GSU to overcome, and they will remain winless on the road this season, with UTSA winning a close one, 31-28.