Keys to the Game: Southern Miss vs. UTSA

UTSA comes off a bye week it what might be their biggest challenge of the year so far with USM coming to the River City. A few keys to a UTSA win. 

Knock off the Rust

Coaches hate bye weeks. They're a double-edged sword, they can help get you healthy, but they also take you out of rhythm. UTSA might've been playing as well as anyone in the state heading into the bye week, now after a week off; they've got to pick right back up against USM. Last year the Roadrunners jumped on the Golden Eagles from the jump in perhaps their most impressive performance. Southern Miss remembers that evening and won't want to duplicate it. 

Look for Ito Smith

We can't prove it, but it feels like Ito Smith's been at Southern Miss since the mid 90's. Smith sits second USM's All-Time list in All-Purpose yards. He's the key to Southern Mississippi's offense. Neither Kwadra Griggs nor Keon Howard has been effective at quarterback, and last week Smith touched the ball just thirteen times last week. USM head coach Jay Hopson said they need him more involved in the gameplan this week so expect the Golden Eagles to be intentional about getting Smith the ball early. 

Run to Pass

UTSA's offense purs like a kitten when the Roadrunners run the ball to set up their downfield passing game. The Golden Eagle defense played at an elite level before North Texas, when the Mean Green exposed USM. The Golden Eagles are very good on third down, so UTSA needs to stay in 3rd and manageable situations and keep as much of their playbook in play as possible. 

Notes and Numbers

Saturday marks the fourth ever meeting between USM and UTSA. 

The Roadrunners hold a 2-1 series advantage. 

UTSA and Southern Miss have both been excellent defensively, the Roadrunners are second in the FBS in total defense while USM is twenty-fifth. 

Ito Smith is fourth in CUSA in rushing yards. 

Kwadra Griggs threw for a career best 270 yards against North Texas on Saturday night. 

According the Bill Connelly's advanced stats, the Roadrunners rank first in the FBS in defensive stuff rate. Stuff rate ranks the percentage of runs where the runner is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage. 

The Roundup...