JJ’s Journal 3.7.16

InsideRunnerSports’ JJ Perez gives you his thoughts on several UTSA-related topics.

JJ’s Journal Entry for March 7, 2016

Head Football Coach Frank Wilson introduced himself and his coaching staff to fans last week at a public event at the Institute of Texan Cultures. It was the first setting where Wilson and his coaches could talk directly to fans in a casual setting. Wilson’s staff, now complete with five offensive coaches and four defensive coaches, mingled with fans, took photos and were each introduced on stage one by one. There was no media availability at this event so I didn’t get to interview anyone. However, I was able to meet and chat with a majority of the new coaches. I came away impressed by all of their energy and charisma. I think what I learned most last week from this event is that Coach Wilson is already very popular. Fans cheered him at every possible moment. And following the event, a long line of people waited (some more than 30 minutes) to take a photo with him. UTSA may have a burgeoning star on their hands.

Included in last week’s news was the hiring of former wide receiver’s coach Tony Jeffery as the Assistant Athletic Director for Football. Announced by Coach Wilson as the “Director of Operations”, Jeffery will be UTSA Football’s go to guy for operational issues. It’s certainly an important role and one that I’m sure Jeffery will flourish at. Jeffery, who was originally hired at UTSA back in 2010, is the lone person remaining from the previous staff. A Houston-native, Jeffery has been with the program since its inception, except for that one season he spent at the University of Houston. It’s good to see someone who was involved in the initial beginnings of UTSA Football still involved in the program now. Welcome back Tony Jeffery.

Former Football Head Coach Larry Coker popped up in the news late last week. We haven’t heard very much from Coker since his departure on Jan 5. In an interview with newspaper, Coker said (LINK) that UTSA owes him a buyout because he did not willingly step down. A few hours later, the school refuted (LINK) the reported dollar amount owed to Coker. It seems like Coker’s departure happened six to eight months ago. In reality it’s been two. But in the span of those two months administration hired Coach Wilson, Coach Wilson hired a whole new staff, that staff secured and signed a solid class of recruits, and now everyone is already looking forward to the 2016 season and the 2017 recruiting class. The simple truth is that UTSA has moved on and moved on quickly. You won’t find anyone who respects Larry Coker more than me. What he did in Miami and what he did to build UTSA’s program from nothing is significant, some would even say legendary. At this point, however, it’s not important how Coker and UTSA parted ways. And even though there does seem to be a disconnect between the two parties, I do hope that one day that relationship can be repaired so that Coker can come back to have a field or building or statue named in his honor. Until that happens, it’s time to move on, UTSA certainly has.

They called it Lone Star Boys. That was the program the UTSA put together to focus on state of Texas recruits during this past weekend’s Junior Day. By all accounts, it was a success. Typically Junior Days are used to showcase the program in a broad stroke to many recruits and that’s what happened Saturday. Every recruit we contacted following the event had nothing but good things to say about UTSA. From that standpoint, the event was a success. It’s a long way from National Signing Day 2017. But it seems like UTSA is building relationships with recruits early. This is as active as we’ve seen UTSA this early in the cycle. Nearly 100 known offers have gone out. You can see all the players who have been offered by checking out our database: LINK and you can keep up with the latest by visiting the UTSAInsiders Forum: LINK

The 2015-16 regular season came to an end over the weekend with a 81-74 loss at UTEP. The game was a microcosm of the season. UTSA plays well in the beginning and end but a long scoring drought in the middle costs them. That has literally been the storyline in a majority of the losses this season. UTSA closed the regular season with a 5-26 overall record. Their 3-15 conference record means they’ll be the #13 seed when the CUSA Tournament begins on Tuesday in Birmingham. The ‘Runners will face #12 seed Florida Atlantic. The ‘Runners and the Owls have met once before this season. That was an 86-71 FAU win in San Antonio. FAU finished the regular season with a 7-23 overall record and were 5-13 in CUSA play. No one is expecting much from the Roadrunners in the CUSA Tournament. It’s been as tough a season as we’ve seen in Brook Thompson’s ten year tenure. Youth and inexperience paired with inconsistent play has led to just a dismal season. But CUSA is a conference that is loaded at the top. And at the bottom of the bracket, anything can happen. UTSA vs FAU tips off at 4pm on Tuesday. The winner plays ODU Wednesday at 2:30pm. 

T-minus two weeks until spring practices begin for UTSA. There are a ton of questions headed into workouts. Who will be the starting quarterback? Has the o-line improved? Will the defense change schemes? Will the offense change schemes? Is depth a concern along the d-line? We still don’t know what kind of media access will have this spring but we’ll attempt to answer those questions and more beginning on March 21. We do know that every Friday morning practice will be open to the public. Like always, I’ll do my best to get at as many availability dates as possible. I was told last week not to expect a lot from these spring practices. Specifically regarding the offense, I’m not expecting a lot to be implemented, at least not initially. You have to understand that many of the coaches have only seen their players on film. There’s going to be a learning curve between the players and coaches in how they practice. So if things aren’t sharp from the beginning, I wouldn’t read too much into it. 

I don’t get to travel much. So when UTSA Football goes to places they don’t normally go to, I do my best to try to make that road trip. Last week it was announced that the Roadrunners will play a one-game road match up with Illinois in the 2021 season. I’ve never been to that area of the country so I'll be sure to cirlce my calendar for that trip when it comes around. Another place I’ve never been too (Fort Collins, CO) gets visited this year. In coming years UTSA plays non-conference road games at: Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas State, Arizona State, Kansas State, and Memphis. And while I’ve been to some of these places, others I haven’t and would have no real reason to travel to. I’m one of those people who do not look forward to traveling. If you follow me on twitter, my experience with TSA while traveling to Tucson for last year’s season-opener would provide reason enough. But there's something special about the road. They say there’s no place like home. And don't get me wrong, San Antonio and the Alamodome are great places. But being on the road, in often times hostile environments gives you a feeling that is difficult to describe. It’s a lot more invigorating than woulud would think. So get to a road game sooner than later. 

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