You guys ready for some fun? It's happening at Apogee Stadium Saturday night. Get in on this burgeoning rivalry now before everyone else does. UTSA and North Texas: keys for both.
Stop Jeffery Wilson
Last week Southern Miss exposed the Roadrunners 2nd ranks rushing defense, rushing for 246 yards and eight yards a carry. The Golden Eagle's Ito Smith averaged ten yards a tote. Now comes Jeffery Wilson, a top ten FBS rusher and the key to North Texas' offense. If Wilson gets into a rhythm, the Mean Green are tough to stop.
Southern Miss torched the Roadrunner defense for a number of big plays. The third quarter was a track meet, and UTSA safeties were doing a lot of chasing. North Texas presents similar big-play abilities with Jalen Guyton and Wilson have shown an ability to pressure defenses and create big plays. The Roadrunners suffered a number of lapses in the secondary last week and met a team that could exploit them. North Texas can do the same.
Ground and Pound
Seeing Dalton Sturm throw for a career-best 367 yards last week was fun, but it's not the formula the Roadrunners follow for success. UTSA's offense needs balance and a rushing game. Jalen Rhodes struggled against USM. The offensive line needs to assert itself this week against a thin North Texas defensive front.
Meet Jalen Guyton
In a lot of ways, Jalen Guyton fell into North Texas' laps. A four-star recruit out of Allen, Guyton signed Notre Dame, left and went to Trinity Valley and then came to Denton. After a slow start, Guyton is finding his footing. Against Southern Mississippi Guyton caught fourteen balls for 211 yards. He's a precise route runner who's physical with the ball in the air. Defensive coordinators need to know where he's at on the field because he's a homerun threat.
Progress Over the Bye Week
The Mean Green defense has struggled to slow opponents down. SMU and UAB put up significant numbers through the air, Iowa ground the Mean Green to dust in the second half, the Mean Green defense has yet to put together a complete defensive effort against an FBS opponent. UTSA's offense can hurt you either through the air or on the ground. We'll see if Troy Reffett's defense can rise to the occasion against the Roadrunners.
Keep Mason Fine Clean
North Texas' patchwork offensive line has played above expectation. Not great, but not the disaster we expected. Credit Mason Fine's comfort with the offense for part of that development. He's getting rid of the ball quicker and forcing defenses to defend the entire field. UTSA's defensive line is an elite unit. Kevin Strong Jr., Marcus Davenport, and Eric Banks big and athletic. Aside from Iowa, this might be the best defensive line the Mean Green faced this season. The North Texas front must keep Fine upright on Saturday night.
Notes and Numbers
Saturday marks the fifth meeting between UTSA and North Texas, UTSA holds a 3-1 advantage.
North Texas and UTSA are the top two CUSA scoring teams with the Mean Green averaging 38 points and UTSA averaging 35.
Dalton Sturm is seventh in the FBS in completion percentage (70.9%)
Even after last week the UTSA defense is still ninth in the FBS in total defense.
North Texas is nineteenth in the FBS in plays of 20 yards or more.
North Texas kicker Trevor Moore has converted 120 straight extra points.
Jalen Guyton averages 18.5 yards per catch.