Practice Report 9.12.16

UTSA faces Arizona State on Friday evening on ESPN2. It’s a short week for the Roadrunners who are coming off a tough loss to Colorado State over the weekend. Jerry Briggs reports from practice.

By Jerry Briggs
For InsideRunnerSports.com

MOVING FORWARD
UTSA coach Frank Wilson said Monday his team has moved on mentally from a disappointing 23-14 loss to Colorado State.

"We had a great practice today," Wilson said.  "Very spirited practice today.  Eager."

Leading 7-3 early in the first quarter on the road last weekend, the Roadrunners fell behind by six at the half and then got shut out in the second half, losing by single digits to the Rams for second year in a row.

UTSA doesn't have much time to adjust before its next challenge.  The Roadrunners (1-1) host the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0) Friday night in the Alamodome.

"What I said to the guys (was), ‘Let your scars show,’ that means they’ve healed," Wilson said.  "When you’ve been wounded and then it heals you have a scar.  So we’ve been scarred and we’ve healed from it, and we’re ready to move beyond it."

 

TWO QUARTERBACKS

UTSA will prepare to play both Dalton Sturm and Jared Johnson at quarterback against Arizona State, Roadrunners coach Frank Wilson said after Monday's practice.

After the morning workout, Wilson fielded questions from the media, with one reporter asking whether coaches might go to Johnson earlier this week given his improvement from the opener to last week's performance at Colorado State.

"I think we go into every game with the anticipation that both guys could play and lead us to a victory," Wilson said  "Dalton will start the game.  If we feel at one point if getting Jared into the game gives us the advantage and allows us to move the ball, we’ll do whatever necessary to win the football game."

Sturm, a junior from Goliad, has started each of the team's first two games. 

Johnson, a senior graduate transfer, has come off the bench against both Alabama State and on the road Saturday against Colorado State.

Wilson said he thought both quarterbacks performed admirably against Colorado State in a 23-14 loss.

"They stepped in and tried to do the things we asked of ‘em," Wilson said.  "We got to be able to help them help themselves by protecting them well and catching the ball and when we have opportunity to make someone miss in the open field, to do so, and to get more than the play is just allotted. 

"In other words, if it’s an 8-yard catch, break a tackle and get some (additional yardage).  Make it 30-yard run.  We didn’t have those things.  We got to be able to do those things to help our quarterbacks."

RB INJURY NOTES
UTSA coach Wilson said senior running back Jarveon Williams will be ready to play against Arizona State.

The team's leading rusher from a year ago sprained his ankle in the opener and played less than a half.

He came off the bench at Colorado State, finishing with 10 yards rushing.  He has produced 39 yards rushing in two games.

"He'll be 100 percent this Friday," Wilson said.

Wilson said fullback Halen Steward, who sat out against Colorado State, probably will not play against the Sun Devils.

"Right now he’s day to day," Wilson said.  "He’s injured.  We’re not sure of his long-term health prognosis  But he probably will not play this week."

BRACING FOR BALLAGE
If you were nodding off to sleep in front of the television late Saturday night, then you have to hand it to Arizona State's Kalen Ballage for serving as a one-man, wake-up call.

Ballage scored an NCAA record-tying eight touchdowns in a wild, 68-55 victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Yes, eight TDs.

As you would expect, it's a performance that set off a few alarm bells in the camp of the UTSA Roadrunners.

“I think he’s a very good football player," UTSA coach Frank Wilson said.  "He’s big.  He’s fast.  He’s physical, and he had a dominant performance last week.”

Ballage is a 227-pound junior running back from Peyton, Colorado. 

His job in coach Todd Graham's offense is to take the snap from center in a shot-gun formation, in short-yardage and goal-line situations, and then he is asked to find the end zone.

Ballage, who has scored 17 touchdowns in 23 career games, does his job well.

"Kalen is a guy who is just now figuring out how powerful and explosive he can really be, and I think tonight he began to scratch that surface really well,” Graham told reporters immediately after the game.

Moments after showcasing his skills on the field, Ballage showed off some humility, escorting five offensive linemen into the media interview room.

As he entered the media area, someone asked him to hold a piece of paper with the number "8," presumably as a photo op that would mimic the iconic Wilt Chamberlain photo.

In that photo, the Big Dipper held up a piece of paper that said, "100," to match the NBA single-game record number of points he scored that night in 1962.

Ballage, according to Paola Boivin of azcentral.com, declined to participate in a re-enactment.

"Scoring eight touchdowns wasn’t a part of the plan at all," he told reporters.  "I just wanted to win the football game, and we ended up doing that.  I just want to contribute to the team in any way I can.”

One of the chief concerns for UTSA this week is trying to rev up an offense that was shut out in the second half of a 23-14 loss at Colorado State.

Another emphasis is executing a plan to stop Ballage.

“No. 7, he’s a phenomenal athlete,” UTSA safety Nate Gaines said. “He has really good vision.  But we’re making preparations to make sure all the gaps are locked down and for him to move horizontally and not vertically.”


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