No. 16 UTSA aims to extend win streak at UTEP

Field Level Media

November 03, 2021 at 8:22 am.

Contract extension in hand, UTSA coach Jeff Traylor says he can focus on guiding his team through the best season in program history.

The 16th-ranked Roadrunners (8-0, 4-0 Conference USA) will aim to continue their ascent when they visit UTEP on Saturday.

Traylor was rumored to be on Texas Tech’s radar after Red Raiders athletic director Kirby Hocutt canned Matt Wells last week, but UTSA’s second-year coach cashed in on Sunday, landing a 10-year extension and an average yearly salary of $2.8 million.

“This is a huge relief for me,” Traylor said. “I thought it had become a distraction. I was worried about my players having to answer questions so much. We can’t predict the future, but I thought it was very important that we get this thing done for my players’ sake.”

While the lengthy extension might not keep other athletic directors from putting Traylor on short lists, it does indicate the rapid rise the Roadrunners have made up the food chain this year. Not only have they posted impressive road wins over Illinois and Memphis, but they have performed as they’ve gotten more attention.

Case in point: Their last game two weeks ago at Louisiana Tech, their first as a ranked team. Against an opponent that nearly won its season opener at Mississippi State, UTSA exhibited its usual balance on offense, sacked dangerous quarterback Austin Kendall six times and pulled away in the second half for a 45-16 victory.

Running back Sincere McCormick rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns, marking his third straight 100-yard performance. Quarterback Frank Harris was an efficient 12 of 19 for 193 yards and two scores, and Zakhari Franklin caught five passes for 118 yards and two TDs.

With a bye week in the rearview mirror, the Roadrunners are now focused on the Miners (6-2, 3-1). Although UTEP took its first conference loss last week at Florida Atlantic, 28-25, Traylor still sees a lot to like about it.

“They are an old-fashioned football team,” he said. “They execute. They move the chains on third down. They run the football. They are really good on defense. It is going to be a hornet’s nest out there.”

It’s been awhile since the Sun Bowl stadium has seen a regular-season game with this kind of meaning. There were low expectations for the Miners outside the locker room, but fourth-year coach Dana Dimel has applied some of the magic from the guy he once worked for, former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

Dimel said of the impact of the Florida Atlantic defeat on the UTSA matchup, “The loss does not make this game less important. It makes it more important. If we want a chance to contend for a conference championship, this game becomes really important for us to do that. It’s a huge challenge.”

The Miners’ most explosive player is wide receiver Jacob Cowing, who has 41 catches for 811 yards and has enjoyed five 100-yard games. Cowing was held to six receptions for 36 yards last week.

UTSA owns a 6-2 lead in the all-time series, including a 52-21 victory last November in San Antonio.