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UTSA at UTEP: Four UTSA players, and key matchups to watch

UTSA is improved, but where do the reeling Miners have the on-paper advantage?

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

UTEP and UTSA looks like a pretty even match up on paper when you look at each team's statistical strength's and weaknesses through the first four games.

Winning play-by-play match ups, and players stepping up could be the big difference in a win for either side.

Lets look at who UTEP has to identify, and what match ups will be key in this week's Conference USA opener.

Four UTSA players to watch

David Morgan, Tight End

Morgan is a beast.  No other way to put it.

He excels in routes to the seam, and is Blake Bogenschutz's security blanket in short down yardage passing plays.  He is UTSA's second most targeted pass catcher, and averages a solid 8.9 yards per target.

UTEP has struggled defending the seam, and a guy like Morgan will make you pay for any coverage mistakes which seems to be UTEP's biggest issue in defending the pass.

Playing him physical is a big key, the guy can pretty much do it all, and is an important part of UTSA's passing attack.

Michael Egwuagu, Strong Safety (Dawg)

Egwuagu has been a steady reserve for UTSA the past two years, but has thrived in his first four games as a starter this year.

When you watch UTSA's defense on film, the 6'0, 225 pound safety stands out with his high motor, and the way UTSA effectively moves him all over the field.

Even though he is a "Dawg" or strong safety in UTSA's 4-2-5, Egwuagu is like a de-facto linebacker who can create havoc in a number of ways and angles.

UTEP's running backs and full backs will have a tough challenge of putting hats on him to keep him from being a factor.

He has two pass breaks ups, a sack, and his tackles are 8% of UTSA's total tackles as a team, you gotta pop this guy, and pop him good in order to take him out of the play at his point of attack.

Jarveon Williams, Running back

Williams has really turned it on the past two weeks, averaging 8.7 yards per carry, and he also ran for 170 yards and two scores against Colorado State last week.

He appears to be a one cut, and go type of back, and has greatly improved his open field speed from the past two UTEP/UTSA match ups.

Consistency could be the biggest knock on Williams in his UTSA career so far, but if the past two weeks are any indication of what he could do on a  consistent basis, C-USA may have another top running back to boast about.

Williams paired with freshman Jalen Rhodes could be a huge issue for the UTEP defense, both guys can scoot, and will be used a bunch as UTSA is finding out how consistent their running attack could be this season after the past two games.

Drew Douglas, Linebacker

Douglas has missed UTSA's last two games with injury, and will be a big boost to a struggling defensive unit.

A pre-season all C-USA honoree, Douglas has been the heart and soul of the UTSA defense.

The Roadrunners found a consistent play maker in Egwuagu , but Douglas is key component in UTSA's defensive approach.

He's had three solo tackles in his only two games of action this year, but is a guy that can keep things in the second level, and has the strength to blow up runs.

Key Matchups

David Morgan vs. UTEP's linebackers and secondary

UTEP's improvement measurement in their man-to-man coverage will be greatly tested by UTSA's lone NFL prospect.

You gotta wonder how UTEP decides to deal with a 6'4, 260 pound athlete that can do a lot with the ball in his hands and in his route running.

Teams in the out of conference portion tripled, and doubled team him, seems like the right move, this kid man is that good and will get his yards if he's covered softly.

Advantage: David Morgan

Ryan Metz vs. the UTSA secondary

Metz has been magical, and UTSA's secondary has been gashed in their tough out of conference schedule, albeit against top notch offensive attacks.

Slowly becoming one of the more efficient passers in C-USA, IF the coaches let Metz run more of the zone-read pass options, we could really see exactly what Metz is in his second career start, and third overall game.

Advantage: Ryan "The Eagle Eye" Metz

Hayden Plinke vs. UTSA's linebacker and safeties

Plinke has proven to be an effective speed weapon in UTEP's offense.  Matched up against either safeties or linebackers, Plinke will be problem for C-USA defense's as will David Morgan for UTSA.

Now that things are for real in conference play, I would expect UTEP's coaching staff to implement him more in the offensive game plan.

Advantage: Plinke

UTEP's offensive line vs. UTSA's defensive line

We've seen good, we've seen bad, we've seen the coaches place the offensive line in some tough spots.

Now against a fully healthy UTSA front six, the Miners big em's up front will be tested against level competition.

UTSA has been stout up front ever since this conference series started, but this is almost the same exact UTEP group that  dominated the line of scrimmage in the Remember the Alamodome game from a year ago.

The Roadrunners will have a respectable defense in conference play, but the UTEP offensive line has to come to play on Saturday if the Miners want to keep the score close.

Advantage: UTEP

Jarveon Williams vs. UTEP's linebackers

Williams in on the cusp of stardom, and UTEP's linebackers have been iffy this season.

Alvin Jones has been a real strong point for the UTEP defense in the past two games, but it will take more than AJ 2.0 to stop an up-and-coming star like Williams.

Advantage: Williams

Autrey Golden vs. UTSA's kick coverage unit

This is kind of reaching in a sense of hope that UTSA isn't kicking off too much.

Golden has came close to popping one, but hasn't even had a long of more than 30 yards this season.

The record is going to happen this year, UTEP needs him to show out in a big way on Saturday.

Advantage: Push

UTEP fans vs. UTSA fans on Twitter

Well, well well....THE biggest match up will be on your Twitter timeline on Saturday, and well, pretty much for the rest of the week and after this story is published.

UTEP rolls deep, their loyal, and they bring heat, and there are just wayy too many UTSA fans who are 30-something and take excessive amounts of selfies, plus its not cool to be constantly fighting with your, loyal writers/bloggers, fellow fans, and athletic department. Going to be a complete homer on this one.

Advantage: UTEP