ARMY (1-1) vs. UTSA (1-1)
When, where: Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Alamodome
Series history: First meeting
Army's last game: Lost to Michigan, 24-21, 2OT, Saturday, Ann Arbor, Mich.
UTSA's last game: Lost to Baylor 63-14 Saturday, Waco
Notable: Saturday is UTSA's annual Military Appreciation Game . . . Army has 22 Texans on its roster, but none from San Antonio . . . Saturday's game will be the Black Knights' third in San Antonio. Texas A&M beat Army 28-24 in 2006 at the Alamodome, and Notre Dame rolled to a 44-6 blowout of the Black Knights in 2016 . . . Army opened its season with a 14-7 victory against Rice in West Point, N.Y., home of the U.S. Military Academy. Rice competes in the West Division of Conference USA with UTSA.
SAN ANTONIO – Talk about raising the ante.
A week after taking a 49-point beating from Baylor in Waco, UTSA faces the challenge of having to rebound against an Army team that nearly upset No. 10 Michigan earlier Saturday afternoon.
The Wolverines pulled out a 24-21 double-overtime victory in Ann Arbor, and Baylor rolled to a 63-14 rout of UTSA later.
Army (1-1) and UTSA (1-1) meet at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome, where the Black Knights are 0-2. Army lost to Texas A&M 28-24 in 2006 and to Notre Dame 44-6 in 2016. This will be the first time Army and UTSA square off on the football field.
UTSA coach Frank Wilson said it will be special to play the Black Knights in the Roadrunners' annual Military Appreciation Game.
"“My mind, I just think of the Roger Staubachs of the world and all of the prestige of the military academies," Wilson said, referring to the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy as junior at Navy in 1963. "What they stand for. How they stand on the front line for our country.
"To have them come to our city, Military City USA, it is a big deal. It’s an honor to be able to play against that opponent that does more than most from sunup to sundown."
The Roadrunners got their season off to a rousing start against Incarnate Word two weeks ago, overwhelming the Cardinals in a 35-7 cakewalk. But it was a different story last week in Waco.
Baylor, which led 35-0 at the half, outgained UTSA 546-266 in total offense, gaining 368 yards rushing on 39 carries for an average of 9.4 per attempt. The Bears finished with 178 yards passing.
Baylor was so dominant that starting quarterback Charlie Brewer, who hit 12 of 16 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns, did not play one down in the second half.
“It really tests what is inside of a man," Wilson said, when asked what approach the Roadrunners would take to bounce back from the lopsided defeat. "I can stand in front of them and rant and rage the obvious: We didn’t play well.
"Or I could be very poignant in pointing out the things in why we didn’t play well. Not only to understand why we didn’t, but how do we play better?"
The performance last week of Roadrunners quarterback Frank Harris, who had a dazzling college debut against UIW after missing the previous two seasons with knee injuries, reflected UTSA's struggles.
Looking tentative from the get-go, Harris completed 15 of 24 passes for only 93 yards and had just three yards rushing on nine carries.
In comparison, Harris hit 28 of 36 attempts for 206 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener. He also led the Roadrunners in rushing, gaining 123 yards on 15 carries.
Wilson said Harris was "very focused, very driven" after the loss. "Disappointed in himself. I shared with him that you don’t need to carry the burden. That falls on my shoulders.
"He is very much wanting to be accountable and recognize the things that he did not do well, that we did not do well, collectively. We’ll fix those things and hopefully we’ll be able to showcase that on Saturday.”
A big key to Saturday's outcome will be how the Roadrunners' defense, which missed more than 30 tackles in the loss to Baylor, fares against Army's ground-oriented triple-option offense.
"When you miss 30-plus tackles, we got to fix that," Wilson said. "That can’t happen. You can’t beat anybody missing 30-plus tackles. We’ll do that and we’ll be better because of it.
"There is not a panic button that we are pressing at this time. We have good players, we have guys who are in position to make the plays and we have to coach them up to make the plays.”
Army's offense is averaging 263.5 yards a game – 215.5 rushing and 48.0 passing. Wilson said discipline will be paramount in keeping the Black Knights' triple-option attack in check.
“A successful play for them is three yards," Wilson said. "They’ll take three, two, four, one, then it breaks for 50. Then they’ll take one, or three, or two, then throw it for 50. They run their fullback – he’s their first option – they are going to give it to him. They create movement. They have great angle blocks.
"They play with great pad level and they create movement and they take those yards. Then the next time the quarterback will pull it, then he’ll give it, then he won’t give it, he’ll pull it and pitch it. Three options every time the ball is snapped is what that offense is equipped to do.”
While UTSA senior defensive end Jarrod Carter-McLin gave the Black Knights their props, he expressed confidence that the Roadrunners can match up well.
"They're a physical, tough team, but so are we," he said. "We accept the challenge. We like it. They've got a very unique offense. It's very different than what you'll play week in and week out, in totality. They're good at it, but we're ready for it."
Asked what the UTSA defense must do to have success Saturday, Carter-McLin said: "You just have to be very disciplined. Everybody has a job and you have to stick to that job. I mean, they might be doing the same thing, literally, 80 plays. But all 80 plays, you have to do it (maintain discipline).
"Because the one time that you don't, it's block left or block right. It's a touchdown. So, doing your job and doing it consistently, no matter what. You can't get tired of doing it over and over again. You just have to keep doing your job and it'll take care of itself."
UTSA plays North Texas in its C-USA opener next Saturday in Denton.