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Alamodome Audible Q&A: Frank Harris leading the Roadrunners into Austin

The senior quarterback is once again setting the pace for UTSA

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Texas Longhorns and the UTSA Roadrunners are coming off of nail-biters heading into the I-35 matchup.

UTSA has been involved in two overtime games this year, losing to the Houston Cougars to open the season and holding on against the Army Golden Knights to improve to 1-1 on the year. Jeff Traylor and the Roadrunners have already been on campus, shooting their weekly uniform reveal video around the Forty Acres, but what will they look like when they get onto the field?

To help us gain some insight into the Road Runners, we reached out to Jared Kalmus (@JaredUTSA) of the Alamodome Audible to help us dive in ahead of the game.

Burnt Orange Nation: The Roadrunners are coming off of back-to-back overtime thrillers after giving up 31 fourth-quarter points to Houston and Army. What happened to the UTSA defense late in both games?

Alamodome Audible: Starting with the Houston game, the Cougars realized that quarterback Clayton Tune had the speed to beat UTSA’s linebackers to the edge on scrambles and designed runs. With the Roadrunners’ secondary really locking down Houston’s receivers, the Cougs went all-in on QB runs which UTSA wasn’t able to bottle up effectively. I didn’t notice any major changes on either side in the 4th quarter of the Army game, but UTSA was very intentional about loading up the box against the triple option to dare Army to beat UTSA through the air. That strategy almost back-fired as Cade Ballard was much better than expected as a passer. UTSA got sucked in by play-action, leading to a lot of wide-open tight ends, slot backs, and receivers downfield for the Black Knights.

BON: Frank Harris has once again been a massive piece of the offense, passing for nearly 700 yards and six touchdowns in two games. What has been the secret to his success in those matchups?

AA: #0 is playing really sound, complete football right now. His passes have a bit more zip on them this year, allowing him to pass into windows he couldn’t in the past, but probably the biggest secret to Harris’s success this season has been his command of UTSA’s run-pass option offense. Frank has gotten incredibly sharp at reading the defense pre-snap and making the right decision to get his playmakers the ball in space.

BON: If UTSA is going to pull off the upset on Saturday, what is the gameplan?

AA: I think two big things need to happen for UTSA to pull off the upset. First off, the UTSA offensive line needs to get Demetris Allen back this week as expected and have him provide an immediate, drastic boost to the Roadrunners’ pass protection. Defensively, UTSA will need to load the box against either a hobbled Hudson Card or an inexperienced Charles Wright. Despite pretty good coverage from the secondary so far this season, the Roadrunners haven’t picked off a pass yet this year. One or two picks against an injury-stricken UT quarterback room could be enough for UTSA to have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.

BON: What is one storyline you’re watching on Saturday?

AA: How will the Longhorns emotionally respond to a heart-breaking loss against Alabama last week? It was arguably the most complete game I’ve seen the Longhorns play in several years, yet it ended in a loss. UT came out bruised and battered from the Crimson Tide’s physicality. Can they flush the loss, lean on their depth, and take care of business? It’s a big challenge for the locker room culture which Steve Sarkisian is tasked with maturing.

BON What’s your score prediction?

AA: UT-Austin 37 - UTSA 21