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Four Down Territory 10.26.16

Presenting a weekly post in which InsideRunnerSports’ JJ Perez tackles four burning topics facing UTSA this week. Presented by the law firm of Saucier & Smaistrla PLLC.

Presented by the law firm of Saucier & Smaistrla PLLC.

Four Down Territory for 10.26.16

What a wild one Saturday night in the ‘Dome… UTSA and UTEP engaged in an epic battle that resulted in the Miners squeaking out a 52-49 win in five overtimes. After the game I asked Safety Nate Gaines what it was like playing in a game like that were it seemed like everything was on the line on every play. He said: “it really just seems like you're on the edge of a cliff. When it really comes down to it, for the defense, we have to play every snap like it's our last one.” I spend most of my time during games at the Alamodome in the press box. At the end of fourth quarter, media is allowed on the sidelines. With the game tied, I figured it would end in dramatic fashion so I headed down to the sidelines. As regulation began to wind down, and with both offenses struggling, the tension on the sidelines was palpable. You could just feel it. As the overtimes began to pile up, the drama and intensity kept increasing. Up and down, back and forth, possession after possession. At one point I turned to Athletic Directory Lynn Hickey, who was standing behind me, and said how much more dramatic could this get. It’s hard to look back at it now because it’s still so fresh and the fact that the outcome went against UTSA will haunt Roadrunner fans for awhile, but that game really had everything: defensive stands, big-time plays, turnovers, disputed calls, tons of scoring, and much more. It goes down in the history books as the longest game and Conference USA history. Some day, Roadrunner fans will look back and say “wow, what a wild one.” And with each season removed, the lore of that game will grow. But for now, it still hurts for UTSA fans. And that’s understandable. But someday, it will just be a part of the history of the up and coming program.

Quietly, Kerry Thomas has cemented himself has one of the best players to have ever played at UTSA. And he’s only a junior. Arguably the best WR in UTSA’s history, Thomas has been everything UTSA could ask for and more. This season, he’s caught a team-high (and program-record-tying) five touchdown passes. Only his brother, Josh Stewart, has more receiving yards than him this season. Against UTEP, Thomas set career bests with 89 receiving yards and two touchdowns. With his two TDs, Thomas now owns the program record career touchdown passes. A member of UTSA’s 2014 recruiting class, Thomas came to UTSA from A&M Consolidated High School in College Station, TX. At 6’0” and 205lbs, Thomas runs good routes, can beat defenses over the top and makes plays after the catch. He’s become one of UTSA’s best playmakers in a unit that is considered to be one of the deepest on the team. Even with all that he’s accomplished already, Thomas’ ceiling remains high. That, combined with his current production, makes him potentially the best receiver to come through UTSA, ever. 

UTSA will wear a special “Black Bird” uniform for this week’s game vs UNT. This is the first time the Roadrunner will dress in black. Following the game, the game-worn jerseys (and a handful of helmets) will be auctioned off to fans. This isn’t the first time UTSA has worn a special colored jersey and then auctioned them off to the public. Two years ago, UTSA wore “Blue Steel” jerseys. The grayish-blue jerseys set off a feeding frenzy among fans. This time around, it seems like there is even more excitement surrounding these Black Bird uniforms. Fans online have already been calling “dibs” on certain numbers. In 2014, these jerseys went like hot cakes. The idea of purchasing game-worn items is such a good one. Every die-hard fan wants something that was actually a part of the program. In fact, I think UTSA should do an auction every season. And while I do personally like the style and look of these alternate jerseys, I also wouldn’t mind seeing one of the traditional uniforms be auctioned off.

Here’s a look a the Black Bird uniform

Remember last season when North Texas, one of the worst teams in FBS, beat UTSA in Denton after firing their head coach? That memory should provide players and fans with enough motivation to take the Mean Green very serious this weekend. North Texas is 4-3 overall and 2-1 in CUSA. They are coming off a huge win vs Army last week. They’ve also beat Marshall and Rice this season. Under first year Head Coach Seth Littrell, the Mean Green head to San Antonio this weekend as a suddenly improving team. On the flip side, the Roadrunners are coming of a gut-wrenching five-overtime loss to UTEP. It would seem like momentum would be in UNT’s favor. But as I wrote several weeks ago, you can throw the records out the window. Like UTEP (and Rice for that matter), North Texas and UTSA either have become or are becoming bitter rivals. I expected a knock-down-drag-out affair with all of the teams in the Texas Triangle, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen with Rice and UTEP. There’s no reason to expect anything less this Saturday vs North Texas. Buckle up for another wild ride.

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