JJ’s Journal 4.18.16

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

JJ’s Journal Entry for April 18, 2016:

SPRING FOOTBALL PRACTICES
UTSA is football is coming down the stretch of their spring football practices. It’s been the first set of workouts under first-year head coach Frank Wilson. While there hasn’t been a ton of hard news coming out of this spring, we have learned a few things:

  1. The offense is changing. While the ‘Runners will still use a multiple-formation attack, we’ll see UTSA’s offense begin under center some. Just how much and what happens after the ball is snapped is still somewhat of a mystery.
  2. The defense will be aggressive. UTSA’s D will be multiple in their own right toggling between a 4-2-5 and 3-4 formations.
  3. Energy is at an all-time high. Players, coaches, and staff surrounding the program are energetic and hopeful for what the coming season holds.

How any of this translates to wins and losses on the gridiron remains to be seen.

SPRING GAME #6
UTSA will hold their sixth annual spring game on Saturday at the Alamodome. The game, which is an official Fiesta San Antonio event, is free to get in (although there is a $10 charge to park). In and of itself, the spring game boils down to a gloried practice session. We don’t know how the game will actually be structured at this time but the most exciting part to watch is the live-scrimmage portion of the event. Once this gets going, there are several areas to watch:

  1. Has the offensive line improved?
  2. How do the quarterbacks look?
  3. What the structure and rotation of the d-line?
  4. How steps up at the cornerback position?
  5. Is depth at Linebacker and issue?
  6. Who emerges are playmakers in the Tight End are Wide Receiver groups?
  7.  And what kind of schemes is the offense and defense running?

We may not get answers to some of these questions until fall workouts get going in August but fans may get a glimpse at some things. The event is set to start at 1pm Saturday. See you all there. And if anyone sees me, be sure to say hello.

GRADUATE QB ADDITION
A few weeks ago UTSA announced the addition of QB Jared Johnson from Sam Houston State as a graduate transfer. One of the better FCS quarterbacks last season, Johnson will enroll at UTSA in the summer to begin acclimating himself to the program and campus. Historically, graduate transfers are somewhat a roll of the dice. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. This is the second time in program history UTSA will have added a graduate transfer at the QB position. Last year Arlington-native Russell Bellomy transferred to UTSA from Michigan. But Bellomy quit the team early in the season when he was passed over for playing time by then walk-on Dalton Sturm. So UTSA is 0 for 1 in the graduate transfer QB experiment. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything for Jared Johnson. In fact, this is a much different situation for UTSA than it was last season. The Roadrunners have a more than capable QB in Sturm. The addition of Johnson to the mix adds experience and depth to a position that sorely needs it. It’s hard to sit here today and say who will be the starter when UTSA opens the season vs Alabama State on Sept 3 and if that starter will be the guy for the entire season. You’ve got to believe both Sturm and Johnson will get every chance to earn playing time. Part of me thinks we’ll see both play in significant action during the 2016 season.

BASEBALL BATTLING
The UTSA Baseball season has hit the midway point, as far as their Conference Schedule goes. Overall, the team is having a hoe-hum season. Some key injuries really hampered the team early. The Roadrunners are 14-21 overall but just have a 5-10 record in CUSA play. Currently, UTSA sits near the bottom of the CUSA standings. But the ‘Runners are coming off a big series win at Old Dominion. It was the first series win since the opening weeks of the season. So while UTSA has struggled a bit, the good news is there’s time to recover. Aside from Southern Miss, Rice, and FAU, there is a log-jam in the middle of the Conference USA standings. With 15 conference games to play, UTSA has a chance to climb to the middle of the pack to gain some momentum heading into the CUSA Tournament in May. The Roadrunners are on the road this week at Western Kentucky. Next weekend they host Louisiana Tech. These two conference series could end up being two of the more pivotal matchups of this season.

WELL WISHES TO BT
Like many others, I was saddened over the weekend to learn that former UTSA Men’s Basketball Coach Brooks Thompson is apparently gravely ill. According to a social media post on behalf of Thompson’s wife, Michelle, the 45 year old is hospitalized in critical condition with double organ failure. Having known Brooks for nearly all of his ten-year tenure at UTSA, I know that he’s a fighter who will give it his all to try to recover. Brooks and Michelle have three young daughters. On behalf of the entire staff at InsideRunnerSports and the UTSA community, Brooks Thompson and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.

NBA PLAYOFFS
The NBA Playoffs began over the weekend. As some of you may know, I’m a life-long San Antonian. So that means I’m a Spurs fan. The Spurs are matched up with the #7 seed Memphis Grizzlies, who are dilapidated by injury. While many of the games to start the playoffs have been largely non-competitive (the Spurs game 1 included), I do expect things to pickup. In fact, I feel like the NBA post-season is very top heavy. Here are my top 8 NBA power rankings as of Monday:

  1. Golden State (1 seed West)
  2. San Antonio (2 seed West)
  3. Cleveland (1 seed East)
  4. Oklahoma City (3 seed West)
  5. Los Angles Clippers (4 seed West)
  6. Atlanta Hawks (4 seed East)
  7. Toronto Raptors (2 seed East)
  8. Miami Heat (3 seed East) 

CLOSING THOUGHTS – SATELLITE CAMPS
Earlier in April, the NCAA approved a new rule that would ban college teams from holding satellite camps. As some of you may not know, most college football programs hold several camps outside of their home town. In the past, UTSA has held satellite camps in towns like Grand Prairie, Katy, Pearland, Prosper, Kilgore, and other places. These satellite camps allow coaches to watch and evaluate recruits in person. Under this new NCAA rule, these type of camps are no longer allowed. A major reason for this is the perception of the large-conference schools travelling across country to poach major recruits. And while there may be some merit to that argument, I’m not sure that a 4-star player in the Midwest isn’t going to get looks from Power Five schools because those schools didn’t have a camp in his area. It’s a reach to think that will solve the problem. In fact, the banning of satellite camps probably hinders some of the lower-rated recruits than any. Former UTSA QB Blake Bogenschutz is a prime example. From a small school in East Texas, Bogenschutz was under-recruited. As a Division 1 QB, he was a bit undersized. But he attended one of UTSA’s satellite camps where he threw and ran well and was offered. When the news broke, Bogenschutz tweeted the following: “The NCAA banned football programs from having satellite camps? I would have never played Division 1 football if it weren’t for those camps.” There are literally thousands of recruits like Bogenschutz who will get hurt if this rule stays in place. This week an NCAA Executive commented that the rule may be revisited. For the players like Bogenschutz and programs like UTSA, hopefully the satellite camps will be allowed at some point in the future.


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