JJ's Journal 11.3.14

InsideRunnerSports Reporter JJ Perez offers his thoughts from the weekend.

Bye Week

Down the stretch we come. There are only four weeks left in the 2014 regular season. For UTSA, only 2 home games and 2 road games remain. While a lot of the excitement surrounding the program has been tempered with the recent struggles, there is still a lot of football left to be played. With things heating up in the battle for the CUSA title, every week there will be a lot of scoreboard watching across the conference. This week's game is absolutely huge for Rice as they look to keep pace with West Division leader La Tech. UTSA is 0-2 all-time vs Rice.

Starting QB

Head Coach Larry Coker said on Thursday night that regular starting QB Tucker Carter is back from injury. Coker did not specify who would start vs Rice. However, with second string QB Blake Bogenschutz still nursing a hand injury and third string QB Austin Robinson struggling the last two games, if Carter is in fact, healthy look for him to see some significant action vs Rice. The most experienced QB on the roster, Carter's return should help stabilize some of the issues UTSA has been facing on offense and get things going.

Bowl Chances

Conference USA has six (6) bowl tie-ins with the potential for a seventh (7th). Right now, it appears that six teams (not including UTSA) will meet the six win bowl eligibility requirement. For UTSA to even have a chance, they will need to win each of their remaining games and need some help from some of the team's ahead of them. The Rice game this week is UTSA's toughest challenge. After that, things sort of lighten up. The remaining games on UTSA's schedule are: Southern Miss, Western Kentucky, and North Texas. Each of those teams are near the bottom of the CUSA standings. Currently only Marshall (8 wins) and La Tech (6 wins) are bowl eligible. Middle Tennesse, UAB, Rice, and UTEP are each on the bubble with 5 wins apiece. UTSA will need to win out and need help from those four teams for a chance at a bowl invite. Here are the bowls with CUSA tie-ins:
- Gildan New Mexico Bowl vs. Mountain West
- Boca Raton Bowl vs. MAC
- Bahamas Bowl vs. MAC
- Sheraton Hawaii Bowl vs. Mountain West
- Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Big Ten
- Duck Commander Independence Bowl vs. ACC or SEC
- C-USA is secondary choice for Lockheed Martin Armed Forces

Early Signees

UTSA announced Friday afternoon that commits Jaylon Henderson (QB Kingwood Park) and Clayton Woods (C Highland) have signed financial aid agreements with the school. Both players are three-star talents and ranked nationally at their positions. But what the signing signals is UTSA's willingness to be proactive when it comes to the ever-changing recruiting landscape. In 2013, the NCAA enacted a new rule that allowed high school seniors to enroll early in college. Basically the rule allows early high school graduates to get to campus one semester earlier than a normal high school recruit. Although the student is not technically bound to the school (the players have the ability to change their mind right up until signing day in February), the rule allows the school to commit to the player in writing. It also allows the school to announce the player's signing and allows the coaches' to publicly comment on the players. From a recruiting standpoint, and more importantly, the rule also allows unlimited contact between the school and the players. Many other programs have used this type of recruiting strategy to help with annual scholarship limits. The NCAA only allows a maximum of 25 or 28 letters of intent to be signed in each recruiting cycle. Early signees (high school and junior college transfers) typically do not count toward that annual scholarship limit as long as the team is under the total of 85 scholarships. Right now, UTSA has 81 players on scholarship.

UTSA Basketball

The ninth season of the Brooks Thompson era for UTSA hoops gets going later this week as the 'Runners play in an exhibition game at the Convocation Center on Thursday night. Coming off a terrible season that saw UTSA battle injury after injury, this year's team shows some promise. I've watched a few practices these past several week and there is definitely some young and athletic talent on this roster. Jeromie Hill is back from a knee injury and should be able to add a scoring punch to the lineup.

Conference USA Rankings

Here are my top 4 CUSA teams. :
1. Marshall
2. LA Tech
3. Middle Tenn
4. Rice

Closing Thoughts

Sometimes you've just got to keep on truckin'. In the coming weeks, UTSA will most likely be eliminated from post season play by either losing a game or other teams winning. It's difficult to see and understand it now, but the struggles of this season are all apart of the program's continued growth. Until about a month ago, everything with UTSA has gone as well as one could expect. With a bumpier road ahead, it's important for RunnerNation to continue to stick with UTSA.

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