The third and final non-conference opponent for ASU this season is the University of Texas, San Antonio Roadrunners. Last year, the Roadrunner tied for third place in the West Division of Conference USA with two other teams with a 3-5 conference record. In conference play, only two of the 13 conference teams had a conference record worse than UTSA.
This will be the first meeting between ASU and UTSA. In their four-year existence, UTSA has played three games against a single Pac-12 team, Arizona, and lost all three games. The good news for UTSA is that each year they scored more points against the Wildcats than the year before.
Here are some stats for the Roadrunners (2015 Record, Overall: 3-9 – Conference: 3-5):
– In the 2015 season, almost 60-percent of the offensive plays for UTSA were running plays, whereas for Conference USA the average was 52-percent, while ASU averaged an even 50-percent
– Last season, the Roadrunner running game averaged almost five yards per carry on third and short yardage
– Over the past three season, the UTSA offense has relied more and more on the ground game each season, as reflected by an increase in the percentage of running plays each year (2013-50.8%, 2014-55.3%, 2015-58.6%)
– Last season, the run game averaged almost one and a half yards more per carry in the second half as compared to the first half (3.29-4.70)
– For all of 2015, UTSA was only able to run the ball eight times when they were ahead by more than two touchdowns, while they ran the ball 101 times when they were behind by more than two touchdowns
– Last season, UTSA scored more than one touchdown on the ground in only half their games.
– Over the past three years, the average number of carries needed to get a touchdown has risen each year (2013-18.5, 2014-29.3, 2015-31.9)
– During the 2015 season, the UTSA passing game completed almost 64-percent of its passes at home and only 55-percent on the road
– Last season, UTSA only threw one touchdown pass in the first quarter over the entire season
– In 2015, UTSA only threw for two touchdown passes in 121 pass attempts on first down
– Each month of the 2015 season, the UTSA passing completion rate improved
– Last year, the UTSA passing game only had three games in which they threw for more than 300 yards, while in eight games they threw for less than 200 yards
– Last season, only four of the 17 touchdown passes thrown by UTSA came when they were either tied or ahead
– In the past three seasons combined, the UTSA quarterbacks have thrown 37 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions. In comparison, Mike Bercovici threw 30 touchdown passes and nine interceptions last season alone.
– In 2015, UTSA was sixth in Conference USA in third down conversions, and last in the 2014 season
– In 2015, UTSA was seventh in Conference USA in the percentage of red zone touchdown they scored to the red zone opportunities they had
– In 2015, UTSA was tied for sixth in Conference USA for the number of turnovers they lost during the season
– Last season, the UTSA run defense averaged giving up a rushing touchdown once every 31.0 carries in the first quarter, while in the fourth quarter, the average had dropped to once every 16.4 carries
– In the first half of their games last year, the Roadrunner run defense gave up eight rushing touchdowns, while in the second half they gave up 13 touchdowns on the ground
– In the three games that the Roadrunners won, they only gave up one touchdown on the ground, while in the nine games they lost, they gave up 20 rushing touchdowns
– Last season, the UTSA run defense faced 375 rushing attempts outside their own red zone and only allowed two touchdowns
– The UTSA run defense only allowed 13 runs of over 20 yards last season with eight of them happening in the fourth quarter
– In half their games last year, the UTSA run defense gave up one or no touchdowns on the ground
– Last year, the UTSA pass defense did not intercept a pass in their four non-conference games, while giving up ten touchdown passes
– In five of their twelve games last year, the Roadrunner pass defense gave up one or no touchdown passes
– The 14 interceptions made last year by the Roadrunner defense was the most they have gotten in the past four seasons
– Last year when UTSA fell behind by more than seven points, they allowed more than 70-percent of opponent passes to be completed, and 57-percent on all other pass attempts
– Last season, the UTSA pass defense averaged giving up a touchdown pass once every 24.0 pass attempts on first down, 27.4 pass attempts on second down and only 9.8 pass attempts on third down
– The UTSA pass defense was fourth best in the conference in the percentage of passes within their red zone that went for a touchdown, while they were second best in the conference in the 2014 season
– In the last three season, the UTSA offense has not averaged more than 26 points per game in a season.
– Last season, the UTSA defense averaged allowing almost 34 points per game, while the average for the two previous season was around 26 points per game
– Over the past three seasons, UTSA has not had a positive turnover margin in a single season
WHAT THE NUMBERS MEAN
Over the past three seasons, the UTSA offense had relied more and more on its ground game, however, over that same period, the running game had placed no higher than sixth in the conference in scoring touchdowns on the ground. Additionally, the team placed eleventh and nine in the conference in yards per carry over the past two years. That means up to this point, the UTSA offense had been relying more and more on a below average run game.
While the running game has been somewhat pedestrian, the passing game hasn’t done much better. Over the past three years, the the Roadrunner quarterbacks threw almost as many interceptions as touchdown passes (touchdowns: 37, interceptions: 36). Additionally, over the same three seasons, they have had only one year where the completion percentage was over 60-percent. To top it off, last season, only one touchdown pass was thrown in the first quarter in twelve game.
Because neither the run game nor the passing game generated much offense, the team was able to score many points over the past three years. That will not fare well with an offensive-minded Pac-12 opponent.
The run defense for UTSA has not been that bad. They seem to limit the number of big play against them. In fact, UTSA had been first or tied for first in the conference in allowing the fewest number of runs that go beyond ten yards over the past three seasons.
Even though the UTSA run defense held its own, it appeared that by the fourth quarter the defense may have worn down a bit, allowing over 40-percent of the rushing touchdowns to be scored then, along with an average of 4.72 yards per carry.
Non-conference foes have been brutal against the UTSA pass defense. In the past three seasons, non-conference opponents have thrown 25 touchdown passes against only four interceptions. Another troubling statistic is that over the past three seasons, the average yard per pass attempt against the UTSA pass defense increased each year (2013-6.8, 2014-7.3, 2015-8.1).
It’s interesting that where it appears that the UTSA run defense may have softened by the fourth quarter last year, the pass defense seemed to get a little better. Additionally, where the run defense did a good job of limiting longer plays, the pass defense was not as effective as they were tied for eleventh place in the conference last year in the number of pass completions they allowed to go beyond ten yards.
Clearly on paper, the Roadrunners of the University of Texas San Antonio do not appear to be a threat to the Devils on either side of the ball. The only place they seem to excel is in limiting the number of big run plays against them. For this reason, the game should be a warm up for the Devils in getting ready for games against Trojans and Bruins on the horizon.