UTSA hit the field for Spring Practice #3 Friday morning. Here is your practice report for March 25, 2016:
BIRD CAGE DRILL: It was the first day in full pads and Head Coach Frank Wilson wasted little time to see how physical his team was. Near the beginning of practice, Wilson gathered the entire team near an endzone and conducted the Oklahoma Drill. For those who aren’t aware, the Oklahoma Drill is a practice technique used to test players in confined full contact situations. Wilson stood in the center of the team and called out one defense player and one offense player, then the two went at it. It was quite the scene. Following practice, Wilson would label the drill the “Bird Cage” drill. Wilson: “We’re letting the bird out of the cage.”
ENERGY AMPED UP: There was a much more energetic feel to practice #3 as compared to practice #1 on Monday. Wilson says that’s because the players are accepting what the coaches are doing: “We’ve constantly fostered a competitive atmosphere. The guys have embraced it. We want to compete in everything we do.”
ON SCHEDULE: According to Coach Wilson’s timeline, UTSA is about mid-way through their “installation” phase of practices. He says he’s starting to notice some players rise to the top: “Some guys perked up today on both sides of the ball. We had some guys out here very courageous and willing to stick their face in their and compete.”
DEFENSE AHEAD OF OFFENSE: We haven’t had a chance to get a good look at the defense. Following practice, Coach Wilson said he felt like that unit was doing well: "Right now they (the defense) are a little ahead of the offense because so much of their stuff is attack.”
OFFENSE A WORK IN PROGRESS: Enough can’t be said about how different the Roadrunner offense could look. We haven’t seen much of anything as far as sets and formations. In drills on Monday the offense worked almost exclusively with the QB under the center. On Friday in drills we saw some shotgun sets like we’ve seen in the past. Wilson on the offense: “Offensively, as you know, is more strategic so it takes time.”
DEFENSE TO TRANSITION TO 3-4 SCHEME: UTSA lists their defense as a 4-2-5 scheme. But according to Coach Wilson, that’s not only style of defense the Roadrunners will play. “We’re a 4-2-5 personnel team right now, that’s what we’ve inherited. You’ll see remnants of that as well as a 3-4 defense throughout our defensive practices.”
IMPRESSIVE HANDS: A large part of the beginning of practice was spent with a majority of the team taking part in a receiving drill. Basically every player (with the exception of the o-line) ran across the field attempting to catch four consecutive passes from different directions. A majority of the skill players (WRs, RBs, TEs, DBs, and LBs) showed off their athletic abilities as well as how good of hands they have.
O-LINE LOOK: We caught our first glimpse of the offensive line in a few drills during the media availability period. There were literally two drills done is a speedy manner. There appears to be no changes in the first team depth chart, at least during the one drill that was observed. The starting o-line looked like it was made up of LT Reed Darragh, LG Austin Pratt, C Juan Perez-Isidoro, RG Kyle McKinney, and RT Cody Cole. This essentially the same line as last season, although many of the players looked bigger.
BATTLE OF TIGHT ENDS: Trevor Stevens and Shaq Williams appear to be engaging in a nice position battle. It’s hard to say for certain since we haven’t seen any plays or packages, but in drills, both look the part. Williams, who redshirted last season, is a big physical presence who is surprisingly nimble and agile. But Stevens is the one of elder statesmen on the team who will likely see a ton of reps this spring and next fall. It will be interesting to see how each player is used in UTSA’s new offense.
WILSON HAPPY WITH LIMITED ATTRITION: Often times when a coaching change is made, teams experience a mass exodus as scholarship players leave to other programs. While UTSA did experience some attrition, it wasn’t as much as what could have been. Coach Wilson attributed that to the players themselves: “Our first duty was to recruit our current team, to let them know our program was on solid ground. They bought into and that’s allowed to not have that attrition you normally see when there is a transition with coaching.”
INJURY REPORT: UTSA was without several key players Friday. The following players did not practice as they were out with injuries: S Nate Gaines, CB Stanley Dye, S Michael Egwuagu, LB Les Mauro, LB Steven Holoman, S Austin Jupe, and S Isaiah Santos.
MUM ON INJURIES: Coach Wilson did not confirm if any of the injured players would be returning this spring saying: “Right now we really don’t want to disclose where we’re at with all of those guys injuries until I’ve confirmed everything with our doctors.”
FANS WELCOME: Friday was the first of several practices open to the fans. A little more than 100 people showed up. Coach Wilson on the Fan Friday: “I thought it was solid today but we’d like to see more. We’d like them to be a louder. We encourage all of you fans to be here on Fridays and to be loud.”
BACK AT IT MONDAY: The next spring practice media availability will be Monday, March 28.
POST-PRACTICE INTERVIEW WITH HEAD COACH FRANK WILSON
BIRD CAGE DRILL