UTSA looks to continue winning habits against Rice
SAN ANTONIO - With a win Saturday against Rice in Houston, UTSA would have its first winning streak of the season and it's first 2-0 conference start in program history.
The opportunity is certainly there, as the Owls (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) have yet to find their footing under first-year coach Mike Bloomgren. With each of its losses being by two or more scores, the Roadrunners (2-3, 1-0) will be favored.
Last year, UTSA won its third game in a row against Rice, bringing the series record even at 3-3.
The Roadrunners have won two straight games and are looking for their first 2-0 start to conference play in program history. UTSA has come out on top in the last three meetings with Rice, including a 20-7 triumph on Oct. 21, 2017, at the Alamodome.
Rice has had its struggles, but it's not the offensive units fault. The squad is averaging 26.6 points a game as well as more than 380 yards a game. Running backs Austin Walker and Emmanuel Esukpa both have more than 400 yards each and have scored 6 times between the two. On top of that, Rice quarterback Shawn Stankavage has 774 yards and nine touchdowns.
The defense is certainly what UTSA will look to expose, as it permits opponents to score an average of 42.4 points a contest. If they can get past Rice linebacker Dylan Silcox (27 tackles), the Roadrunners could find the end zone quite often.
However, UTSA will still need to improve to guarantee a win. Quarterback Cordale Grundy had some impressive passes against UTEP Saturday in the 30-21 win. His 187 yards were nothing too impressive, but three scores is certainly something the thrower should be proud of.
Keys To The Game
For the better part of the past year, Jared Sackett has been solid for the Roadrunners. He has yet to miss an extra point in 2018 and his only misses are from more than 40 yards. UTSA has had its fair share of near-misses this year already, and keeping Sackett from missing will more than likely be a big part Saturday.
Stop the run
As mentioned above, Rice has a strong running attack. But little-to-no threat in the passing game. Stankavage may have nine touchdowns, but he's also thrown six interceptions. If UTSA can keep the ball in his hands, their chances should increase.
Cordale Grundy isn't bad, but he's not throwing for 300 yards either. UTSA can still win with him, but as we've seen the past few weeks, the team is much better when he's doing well. Three touchdowns last week while completing 57 percent of his passes was exactly what the Roadrunners needed. The past two games, Grundy has four total touchdowns, 314 yards and has completed 56 percent of his passes.
How to watch
For those looking to watch and unable to make the trip to Houston, you're in luck. The game will be on ESPN3, the 66th straight UTSA game on air.