FALL PRACTICE REPORT FOR 8.9.16
FULL TEAM/FULL PADS: UTSA practiced for the first time as an entire team Tuesday. The first four practices had been split-squad with a veteran group practicing in one session while a younger group practiced in another session. Tuesday was also the first day the Roadrunners went in full pads. Head Coach Frank Wilson says the team is being smart about how they practice: “We teach them all the time that we practice one way, full speed. You try to mirror the National Football League. We tell them to practice like young pros."
BIRD CAGE DRILL: UTSA cranked up the intensity Tuesday by having their Bird Cage Drill to begin practice. The Roadrunner version of the Oklahoma Drill, one player from offense is pitted against one player on defense while the entire team circles the two. Coach Wilson says the drill is about much more than intensity: “It's fundamental football. It's leverage and hand and hat placement and finishing a play. It's the core of what we do in everyday football at every position."
BOUNCE BACK DAY: QB Dalton Sturm said Tuesday’s practice was a good day as compared to Monday. The signal caller said practice yesterday was a bit sluggish with several mental mistakes. Sturm on the first day in pads: “We came out today and responded well. I thought the guys came out mentally prepared and we had a lot of energy, which was great.”
JOHNSON LIMITED: During the portion of practice that was open to media, graduate transfer quarterback Jared Johnson did not participate in any of the drills. Coach Wilson said Johnson workout some but was limited in due to a class he is currently taking: “Jared had to leave a little early, he had class. He’s in a master’s program, business. So he had to get out a little earlier than we would have liked. But all classes conclude at the end of this week.”
NO HURRY TO NAME QB1: Talking about the quarterback competition, Coach Wilson was asked if he had a date when he wanted to announce a starting quarterback. Wilson simply replied: “I do not.”
THE OTHER QBS: We got our first look at the three other quarterbacks on the roster on Tuesday: Manny Harris, Jaylon Henderson, and Clay Roberts. Both Harris and Henderson appeared to be bigger in size. Harris is listed at 6’2” and 225lbs while Henderson is listed at 6’1” 205lbs. Both players went through drills almost flawlessly. The fifth quarterback, walk-on Clay Roberts, also had the build and look of a division one quarterback.
EMPHASIS ON QB BALL PROTECTION: A common theme in the first five practices of fall camp has been quarterback ball protection. At the beginning of each practice all of the quarterbacks go through various drills designed to have them place an emphasis on ball protection. From other players trying to rip the ball out when they drop back from under center, to practicing picking up low shotgun snaps, to even simulating falling on high shotgun snaps, it appears that offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach Frank Scelfo is covering all of the bases.
STRONG BACK: Starting LE Kevin Strong was back at practice after suffering what was described as a minor calf injury on Sunday. Strong suffered a cramp, which is strange for him because he carries around a jug of water to stay hydrated: “It was the really the first time I’ve cramped since I got here. I drink plenty of water everyday, I think it was just getting back into it.”
STRONG LIKES TRANSITION TO END: In 2015, Kevin Strong played well for UTSA in the middle of the offensive line. This season, he’s transitioning to the end of the line, something that he says he likes: “Last year was mostly three-tech, shade, and nose. I like the end a little more. I get to come off the edge and get more speed. I’m getting it down. I enjoy it.”
FIEST TALKS FOR FIRST TIME: Graduate transfer linebacker Ronnie Fiest spoke with media for the first time since coming to UTSA over the summer. Fiest credits his relationship with Coach Wilson as to the reason why he’s now a Roadrunner: “Coach Frank is a mentor for me from my years at LSU and from my sophomore year in high school. He’s like a father-figure to me. It’s an honor for me to come here and play under him.”
O-LINE IMPROVEMENT: Coach Wilson said Tuesday that he feels like the offensive line is improving, specifically in pass-protection situations. But the improvement is a function of the work the group is putting in: “We’re doing those all those things necessary in all phases to allow us to be able to protect our quarterback better.”
NEXT AVAILABILITY: The next media availability is scheduled for Friday, August 12.
FRANK WILSON INTERVIEW