InsideRunnerSports.com Reporter JJ Perez gives you his thoughts on several UTSA-related topics.
Journal entry for 8.10.15
NASCAR & Fall Camp
Fast, up-tempo, frenetic, high-speed, or whatever other adjective that can used is a fairly accurately description how UTSA
has practiced to begin 2015 fall football practices. Simply stated, UTSA does not huddle, at all. There may be situational instances when they do huddle but we haven’t seen it. It’s the fastest pace we’ve ever seen and, for the most part, it appears to be more efficient as well. We’ll get our first real good look at how good this offense really is at Friday night’s open practice when UTSA is expected to scrimmage. But in the little that we’ve seen in practice, UTSA’s new up-tempo/no-huddle offense looks like an upgrade over what they had in 2014. Also, don’t discount what the offense is doing for the defense. In addition to extra conditioning, the Hard Hat D is getting a daily look at what they types of offense they’ll face early on in the season. So far, so good at fall camp.
After one week, redshirt freshman Blake Bogenschutz has shown why he was listed as QB1 to begin the fall. Bogenschutz has shown the best poise and command of the offense out of any quarterbacks. Sophomore Austin Robinson is also quietly having a good camp in his own right. Even Michigan transfer Russell Bellomy has shown off his arm strength, to an extent. But right now, Bogenschutz appears to be in the driver’s seat for starting QB. The Carthage-native has been taking all of the first-team reps with Bellomy and Robinson splitting the snaps with the second team. That is a strong indication that Bogenschutz will likely be the starter with Bellomy and Robinson in the backup and/or situational role. By no means does this mean that the competition is over, but after one week, Bogenschutz appears to be the leader at this point in time.
WR JaBryce Taylor headlines a handful of names that have been pleasant surprises in Week 1. Sure the likes of Bogenschutz, David Morgan, and Bennett Okotcha have been solid in their own right. But Taylor, TE Trevor Stevens, DE Romario Napoles, LB Marcos Curry, S Duke Wheeler and a few others have shown early in this fall that they are here to compete.
New But Talented Faces
In addition to JaBryce Taylor, there are few new faces that appear like they’ll be impact players for UTSA in 2015. TE Shaq Williams, DT Vontrell King-Williams, LB La’Kel Bass, RB Corbin White, and QB Russell Bellomy all have shown they could come in and contribute almost immediately. The question now is when? Each of those players are likely to begin the season as backups or reserves. At one point will they get their chance and see the field? Only time will tell on that one.
Future Non-Conference Schedules
Several weeks ago it was announced that UTSA would open the 2016 schedule at home vs Alabama State. This schedule addition rounded out the 2016 non-conference schedule (9/3 vs Alabama State; 9/10 at Colorado State; 9/17 vs Arizona State; 11/12 at Texas A&M.) In 2017, UTSA opens at home vs Southern and has road games at Baylor and at Texas State. With one more home game date open, UTSA is looking to schedule another home opponent for 2017. In recent years, the Roadrunners have scheduled top-notch non-conference opponents. It’s a strategy that’s helped put the program more on the map, so to speak. UTSA’s 2015 non-conference schedule may indeed be one of the toughest in the nation. But now that UTSA begins to look into 2017, 2019, and 2020 schedules, that type of strategy may no longer be necessary. Most college programs like to have a lower non-conference opponent to help with the beginning of seasons. Beginning with 2017, that doesn’t seem to be a bad strategy to start considering.
Cost of Attendance
It was reported last week that UTSA would be supplementing student athletes a little more than $2,500 for “cost of attendance.” This will begin for the 2016-17 academic school year. UTSA has always been progressive in terms of staying competitive. But cost of attendance is certainly something worth monitoring. Not many schools at UTSA’s level have announced their figure of what they will be paying. While UTSA does have a strong brand, like many schools, they have their fair share of obstacles. Athletic Director Lynn Hickey has gone on record as saying that UTSA will only pay what they can afford. It will be interesting to see what other schools will pay and if that forces UTSA to increase their figure in coming years.
Closing Thoughts – Reasonable Expectations
Over the summer, voting media (me not included) predicted that UTSA would finish in last place of the West Division of Conference USA this season. So the outside world isn’t expecting much from the 2015 Roadrunners. But that cannot be said internally. While there is a lot of turnover from last season’s roster, at many positions, the level of talent has increased. Albeit with young and inexperienced players, the 2015 Roadrunners may be one of the more talented groups UTSA has fielded. But how will that translate to the gridiron? UTSA is listed as much as a 32-point underdog vs Arizona. Several of the upper classmen have said that this team is capable of surprising some people. There seems to be a chip on several players’ shoulders because of the lack of respect shown to the team. After struggles of last season, it would be easy to overlook UTSA in 2015. But the amount of talent upgrade cannot be understated. The 2015 Roadrunners may not win the CUSA Championship, but they will likely be competitive in every game they play. To take it one step further, I’d be surprised if UTSA if we didn’t see at least one upset in the first four games of the season.