In theory, Jeff Traylor’s motivational tactic was a good one.
Unfortunately, though, it backfired completely.
The UTSA coach placed more than 100 rat traps in his players’ lockers after the Road Runners beat FAU 36-10 on Saturday, which kept up with his longrunning “don’t eat the cheese” metaphor that he preaches to his team. The rat traps, he made sure to clarify, were not loaded.
A “smart aleck senior,” however, had other ideas. That unnamed player loaded up his rat trap and placed it onto Traylor’s podium at the team facility. Traylor then reached into the trap and, well, his finger was smashed.
“I put my hand there and it looks like my pinky got smashed by a hammer,” Traylor said, via ESPN's Dave Wilson. “It would’ve killed a lesser man.”
Here’s @CoachTraylor answering @theJJPerez about a player putting a loaded rat trap on his podium: “it looks like my pinky got smashed by a hammer. It woulda killed a lesser man.” https://t.co/rrT8GRBdfb pic.twitter.com/emQ5LSX1ml
— Dave Wilson (@dwil) October 23, 2023
If the Roadrunners can keep it up, though, Traylor’s metaphor — and unfortunate injury — will have paid off. UTSA, which opened the season 1-3, is now a perfect 3-0 in AAC play after Saturday’s win. They’ve outscored opponents 126-64 in conference play, too, and are one of just three teams in the conference without a league loss.
The Roadrunners will host East Carolina on Saturday. They won’t play No. 22 Tulane — one of the other three teams that are undefeated in conference play, along with SMU — until their final game of the season.
Traylor is in his fourth season at UTSA, which made the jump to the AAC this season. They went 11-3 last year, which backed up a 12-2 season the year before. Traylor holds a career 34-13 record in his first stint as a head coach, and he's reached a bowl game in his first three seasons.
While Traylor is sure to keep pushing his cheese metaphor over the coming weeks, his days of using props to drill his point home are almost certainly finished.