Highlights from UTSA’s Media Round Table 8.29.16
THE QB COMPETITION
UTSA coach Frank Wilson said Monday he hasn't made a decision on his starting quarterback for Saturday's opener against Alabama State.
"I think it'll carry out all the way until kickoff," Wilson said. "Or, at least, you know, right before kickoff."
The battle is between junior Dalton Sturm and senior Jared Johnson to take the first snap.
"Right now, both guys are playing extremely well and continue to do the things that we ask of them," Wilson said. "There has been no clear separation from one to the other."
Kickoff between the Roadrunners and the Hornets is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome.
Sturm returns as the incumbent, having started the last seven games last fall in the wake of an injury to Blake Bogenschutz.
Bogenschutz is no longer playing football because of concussion-like symptoms.
Johnson, a senior, joined the team earlier this summer as a graduate transfer from Sam Houston State.
JOHNSON OR STURM
Will it be Jared Johnson? Or, will it be Dalton Sturm?
Who will take the field as the quarterback Saturday in UTSA's season opener?
The questions remained unanswered Monday, with first-year coach Frank Wilson saying he still hasn't made up his mind.
One thing is for certain, however.
Johnson, a newcomer to the UTSA program, said he likes Sturm on a personal level, and he said he thinks the junior from Goliad has helped the team with his maturity during the summer-long battle for the starting job.
"I just realized he's a good guy," said Johnson, a senior transfer from Sam Houston State. "You never know when you’re coming into a situation (like this) how a guy will take it ... the guy that you’re competing with. You realize that (with) him helping me with the offense through the summer, and hanging out, you realize the type of guy he is, what a high character guy he is. That’s been big. For everybody to see that, for us to still be friends and hang out with each other, that's big for the team.”
Johnson arrived with impressive credentials. He was offensive player of the year in the FCS Southland Conference last fall. Sturm, for his part, played 10 games and started seven to end last season with the Roadrunners.
Sturm, now a scholarship athlete, said the competition has been positive for both players.
"It's done a lot," said Sturm, who passed for 13 touchdowns and ran for another last year. "You can't look at it as someone is coming in to take your job. You have to look at it like they're trying to help you get better as a football player. I mean, it's been great for me and him."
Newcomers Ronnie Feist and Jordan Moore, both of then senior transfers from LSU, have claimed starting roles on the UTSA defense, according to the depth chart released Sunday night.
Feist played 14 games over the past four years at LSU. Moore played in 34 games in three seasons at TCU before transferring to LSU to run track. Both of them are 22-years-old and joined the Roadrunners this summer for their final year of eligibility in football.
UTSA coach Frank Wilson said Monday he expects both to have a "calming effect" on the Roadrunners' defense.
"They've played in big game situations in big venues and have experience," Wilson said. "Ronnie played in The Swamp (at Florida) as a true freshman. He played over 30 snaps. So, he's been tested. Jordan, the same at TCU, playing at Oklahoma and all those places. And has success doing so. I think there's a presence about them that brings a calming effect to the young players as well."
Two other transfers are expected to start on offense, including senior tackle Jevonte Domond and receiver Marquez McNair. Domond played four games for the Tigers over the past two seasons. McNair, a nephew of the late Steve McNair, is an explosive playmaker out of Hinds (Miss.) Community College.
"We wanted to enhance our offensive line position," Wilson said. "It was one that we needed to continue to build upon and give us some stability, and to rectify some of the things we had from a pass-protection standpoint. Jevonte gives us that at the offensive tackle position, a guy with range and (with) long arms, (a guy) that can keep defensive ends at bay. Marquez is a junior college player who is a little older, as well, that has a knack for making plays. He catches the ball and gets vertical and can make people miss."
FRANK WILSON TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS (Courtesy UTSA)
Are you ready for Saturday?
“Ready for Saturday. It's building, it's building up to it. We'll be ready right on time. Sometimes you get ready too early. You get overzealous and the anticipation becomes overwhelming. We're just taking it steady, taking it steady. It's game week. Preparation is continuing. We'll climax at the right time.”
How special of a week is this you?
“Special enough, when you look at the opportunity that's been presented to this staff, the opportunity for these players to be able to have a fresh start, and for those seniors to start their senior campaign off in grand fashion. My individual piece of it is so minute in all of this because you have so many other people that are vested in this, a president and athletic director who took a chance on this new coaching staff, a coaching staff where guys left jobs that weren't released from their jobs. They left their jobs and they came here. So it's so much bigger than myself. So big in the case from a holistic standpoint of doing something that will put us in direction to have a successful season.”
What do you know about Alabama State and what Brian (Jenkins) is doing there?
“They are a very talented team. They improved on their winning percentages once he became the head coach there. You look at his background and what he did at Bethune-Cookman and getting those guys to a championship status. I've known him since his days back at UL-Lafayette with Rickey Bustle in the '90s, was always a very astute, highly intellectual guy. So I know his team will be well-prepared and be well-coached. But they have some talent. They have some talent at the receiver position. They have some talent at the running back position. They have done well on special teams. Defensively they'll do things, a myriad of things to try to confuse a quarterback. But we're just expecting a really good game from a really solid football team.”
How often have you visualized the anticipation walking in, leading your team into the Dome on game day?
“I probably haven't got to that point yet. I'm still on the practice field. We haven't loaded up yet. I guess every day is an opportunity for us to get better, and so this morning's dedication was to build the best practice script to allow us to be in position to get the looks that we're going to need to get for the opponent, to do the things necessary to improve us and to take day-by-day a different emphasis of the game plan and put it on paper so our team can go out and practice those things and there are no elements of surprise, that we're well prepared.”
What about the head coaching job, any surprises?
“I think the responsibility certainly is heightened. For things like this, where usually as the assistant coach you are in there game planning and doing those things all day throughout the duration of the day, this is my second media responsibility, and yet a third and fourth throughout the duration of the day. So I wouldn't say surprise, but just a responsibility to be accountable to the media, to the community and as the state of our program. So those are the things that are different than as an assistant coach you may not have done. Not surprisingly, just a little different.”
How many players do you feel like could play in Saturday's game?
“Yeah, you know, right now we haven't declared any person as a redshirt. We want them to play. We want them to take the field. We want contributors. The more that can contribute, the better off we are a team. It speaks to the quantity of players that we have. We want them to be able to have that opportunity. So we don't have a target number, but I would imagine somewhere within the two deep offense defensively and spotting some of these guys as well on special teams. So 11, 22, I guess about 50 or so players probably should play.”
For a full transcript, visit the UTSAInsiders Forum: LINK