By JJ Perez
UTSA Football Practice Report for Wednesday, September 21, 2016
FOCUSED ON ODU
UTSA hits the road this weekend to open Conference USA play. For the Monarchs, they are expecting their 50th straight sell out as well as a raucous homecoming crowd.
Roadrunners Head Coach Frank Wilson says his team will be ready.
“I think it will be fantastic,” Wilson said. “I think the pageantry will be there. It will be a packed stadium. It’s college football atmosphere that you look forward to playing on a Saturday.”
Linebacker Ronnie Feist says ODU’s offense is somewhat similar to UTSA’s most-recent opponent, Arizona State.
“They were a similar offensive scheme to the team we played this past week so that’s good for us, we have kind of a prerequisite of what we have to do,” said Feist. “They’re a really talented team. And it’s a home game so they’re going to bring a lot of energy. I feel like they’re going to be prepared and give us their best fight.”
Despite suffering back-to-back single-digit losses, there’s been an air of confidence among several UTSA players this week.
“We’re looking for a win,” Linebacker La’Kel Bass said. “Everybody’s flying to the ball and excited. We’re just ready to open up conference (play).”
Feist echoed Bass.
“I like that we’ve been bringing up the energy,” Feist said. “Guys are swarming to the ball and are playing with a lot of enthusiasm.”
UTSA (1-2) plays at Old Dominion (1-2) in the Conference USA opener for both teams. Kickoff is set for 2:30pm locally.
COMMITTED TO THE RUN
Coming on two subpar rushing performances UTSA coach Frank Wilson said Wednesday the Roadrunners are committed making a running game happen.
“We have to do a better job of running the football,” Wilson told media following Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve made a commitment to doing that and anticipate us doing so this week.”
A lot the attention has been focused on UTSA’s offensive line. Starting Center Juan Perez-Isidoro says the o-line has put in the work this week.
“I think our offensive line needs to be a little more explosive,” Perez-Isidoro said. “That’s what we’ve definitely been working on this week.”
Perez-Isidoro says that in addition to the explosion factor, it’s important that the o-line remain discipline.
“We’ve worked on our explosion off the ball and it’s really shown throughout practice,” said Perez-Isidoro. “You have to be under control as well. Having that good ID is important, by the center, me. That will help the rest of the line get to their blocks under control.”
Coach Wilson maintains the success of the running game isn’t just on the offensive line. He says it’s a collective effort.
“Getting vertical is the way to be, not necessarily east and west, going sideways,” Wilson said of the RBs. “Collectively, we want our receivers to dig in and block safeties when corners are off.”
In the last two games, UTSA RBs have amassed 49 yards on 21 carries vs Colorado State and 11 yards on 15 carries vs Arizona State.
SPECIAL TEAMS PRIORITY
Head Coach Frank Wilson has made no secret about it, special teams are important to the Roadrunners. So much so that many offensive and defensive starters play on special teams.
“Our best players play special teams,” said Wilson. “If you’re not good enough to play special teams, then you’re probably not good enough to play offense or defense.”
Because of the high importance of special teams’ plays, Wilson believes it better to have the best players in during those snaps.
“We’ll relieve a guy on offense or defense before we relieve them on special teams,” said Wilson.
So far, the strategy has worked for UTSA as they’ve had some success early this season on special teams.
“Special Teams is a priority for us, we place a heavy emphasis on it recognizing it is one-third of the football game,” said Wilson “You look at the success we’ve had this year, a lot of it came by way of our special teams.”
Old Dominion has several unique special team formations. Wilson says UTSA will be ready.
“They (ODU) do a lot of unusual things with their special teams,” said Wilson. “We’re aware of it. We’ll be prepared.”
- Staring WR JaBryce Taylor had to be helped off the practice field following Wednesday’s practice with an apparent knee injury. We’re told, however, that the injury is not serious in nature.
- Backup RB Jalen Rhodes practiced in full pads Wednesday. Rhodes was banged up in the second half of Friday’s Arizona State game.
- Saturday’s game will be the second meeting between UTSA and ODU. The Monarchs downed UTSA 36-31 last November at the Alamodome.
- UTSA is 2-1 in CUSA openers, all of which have come on the road. UTSA beat UTEP in 2013 and 2015, but lost to FAU in 2014.
- QB Dalton Sturm will look to break a program record Saturday. The Goliad-native currently has a 10-game streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass. That ties a mark by former QB Eric Soza from 2011-12.
- Old Dominion is expecting a capacity crowd of 20,118 Saturday. It will be the school’s 50th consecutive sellout.
Video Head Coach Frank Wilson Post-Practice
Video LB Ronnie Feist Post-Practice