UTSA and UAB seek another C-USA title in final season | Basketball

By JOHN RABY – AP Sports Writer

UTSA quarterback Frank Harris will have a different sidekick as he tries to help the Roadrunners defend their American Conference championship.

Sincere McCormick set school records with 1,479 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns as a UTSA wins his first league title on his land at the Alamodome. This year, the offensive focus will be on the mobile Harris, who has thrown for 3,177 yards and rushed for another 566.

To be without McCormick, who sitting on the frisco bowl last December to focus on the NFL Draft, didn’t hurt Harris’ prospects at all.

“You can’t really think of it like that, just go out there and have fun,” said Harris, who is 20-8 as a starter.

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McCormick’s likely replacement is Arkansas transfer Trelon Smith, a 600-yard rusher who came to the Roadrunners in June after initially signing to TCU in January.

UTSA is the overwhelming favorite to qualify for the league title match.

“It’s a blessing, but it really doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Harris said. “We have to go there this year and prepare in the same way, whether it’s individual accolades or team accolades. We have to go out there and prepare, have a chip on our shoulder and go there. and compete every week like we did.

UTSA and UAB are among six teams that will have the chance to win the championship trophy in their final season before moving on to the American Athletic Conference next year.

Bryant Vincent is transitioning into his new role as UAB interim coach. The Bulls’ offensive coordinator took over after coach Bill Clark announced in late June that he was stepping down due to chronic back problems.

“This is, for me, the opportunity of a lifetime,” Vincent said. “I really want the interim tag removed.”

UAB returns running backs DeWayne McBride (1,371 yards) and Jermaine Brown Jr. (631) along with wide receiver Trea Shropshire, whose average of 27.9 yards per catch led the nation. Dylan Hopkins, who is 7-3 as a starter, underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and has competition in a crowded quarterback room, including Baylor transfer Jacob Zeno .

Vincent’s offense set 21 school records in 2018. He helped the Blazers win two league titles and two bowl wins.

At Florida International, defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre takes over from Butch Davis, and former Texas Tech and TCU offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie replaces Skip Holtz at Louisiana Tech.

The league has 11 football members this season after Marshall, Old Dominion and Southern Miss bolted for the Sun Belt Conference in March. UAB, UTSA, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas and Rice will depart for the AAC next year, when Conference USA welcomes new members Liberty, New Mexico State, Sam Houston State and Jacksonville State. The remnants of C-USA will be FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP and Western Kentucky.

The only current members who did not participate in the championship match are Charlotte, FIU and UTEP.

“There was no hesitation in coming to Louisiana Tech and participating in this conference,” Cumbie said. “I’m really excited about the future of the conference. We’re happy to be in it.”

West Florida transfer Austin Reed starts record quarterback Bailey Zappe in West Kentucky. In 2019, Reed threw for 4,089 yards and 40 touchdowns, rushed for six more scores, and led the Argos to the Division II national championship. The Hilltoppers also lost their top two receivers: Jerreth Sterns (150 catches, 1,902 yards, 17 TDs) trailed Zappe in the NFL Draft while 1,400-yard performer Mitchell Tinsley was traded to Penn State.

Florida International is starting the season with a collective heavy heart. Panthers opener Sept. 1 against Championship Subdivision member Bryant comes two weeks after FIU’s death linebacker Luke Knox.

At UTEP, quarterback Gavin Hardison changed jerseys from No. 12 to No. 2 this season to honor tight end Luke Laufenberg, who death from cancer in 2019. Wide receiver Justin Garrett wore Laufenberg’s number for two seasons until his graduation earlier this year.

The season kicks off Saturday with two conference games: Charlotte at Florida Atlantic while North Texas is at UTEP. Western Kentucky hosts FCS’s Austin Peay in a non-conference game.

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