Know Your Opponent: University of Texas at San Antonio

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The Kansas State Wildcats faced off against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sept. 8. The Wildcats lost to the MSU Bulldogs 31-10. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group)

The University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners will travel to Manhattan to play Kansas State in the Wildcats’ final non-conference tune-up game Saturday.

UTSA is coming off losses to Arizona State and Baylor this season. The Roadrunners are in their third season under head coach Frank Wilson, who has served under big name coaches such as Ed Orgeron, Les Miles and Lane Kiffin. They finished 6-5 despite an excellent defense last season.

Wilson’s squad, like K-State, brings new coordinators into this season. The difference is that UTSA’s new coordinators have experience elsewhere.

UTSA’s new offensive coordinator Al Borges is a noted offensive mind. He is not known for having one “go-to” offensive scheme, but rather developing excellent quarterbacks and then utilizing whatever talent he has.

Back in 2004, Borges coached the offense for an undefeated Auburn team. Borges then coached under Brady Hoke at San Diego State and Michigan.

Defensive coordinator Jason Rollins has a less impressive resume; he helped coach the defenses at his alma mater, McNeese State, and Tulane.

UTSA returns senior running back Jalen Rhodes and senior wide receiver Greg Campbell Jr. to complement junior transfer quarterback Cordale Grundy from Northeast Oklahoma A&M.

Rhodes only has five rushing attempts on the year for 28 yards. The Roadrunners’ leading rusher is sophomore running back B.J. Daniels.

UTSA has used a lot of 12 personnel this season, meaning that they have a lot of sets with one running back and two tight ends. One of those tight ends usually steps back off the line and plays in an h-back spot.

They are a fairly balanced team, attempting 76 passes to 60 rushes (sacks where the quarterback intended to throw are included those rush attempts). Playing from behind, as they have most of the season, can slightly skew those numbers toward the pass.

Grundy is a pretty good quarterback who is coming back from an ankle injury in his sophomore season at NEO. He ran a no-huddle spread offense there and beat out four others to be UTSA’s starter.

Rollins runs a defense that is schematically similar to Gary Patterson’s 4-2-5 defense at TCU. Their base defense has four linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs.

That defense did not do much to stop Arizona State in their week one loss, allowing 42 points. (Arizona State scored seven of their 49 total points on a pick six.) Against Baylor, they gave up 494 yards, 403 of which were through the air.

Junior middle linebacker Josiah Tauaefa is a six-foot-one, 240-pound run-stopper. They do not use him to rush the passer very often, but he is a sure tackler and is involved in a lot of tackles at the end of rushes.

Key matchups

Borges versus Seiler: If Borges is experienced, K-State defensive coordinator Blake Seiler is not. This is Seiler’s first season as a full defensive coordinator.

The youth-versus-experience battle between these two coaches will be an interesting thing to see. Seiler will need to be more aggressive than he has been the last two games if he wants to stymie Borges’ offense.

K-State pass versus UTSA pass defense: UTSA is slightly undersized at cornerback and safety this season and it has really showed, but K-State has appeared unable and occasionally unwilling to move the ball through the air.

K-State lacks a go-to wide receiver this year after the departure of Byron Pringle over the offseason, and it has really showed. Junior wide receivers Isaiah Zuber and Dalton Schoen are both great options, but have been plagued in the past with dropped passes.

They also lack the talent at quarterback to really exploit this defensive weakness the way Baylor’s Charlie Brewer and Arizona State’s Manny Wilkins have.

Prediction

I think that K-State will be able to out-talent UTSA, as long as they avoid the turnovers and penalties that almost cost them the South Dakota game. K-State pulls this one out 24-13.

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