Presented by Pat Clynes and The Fritz Kennel in Houston, TX
Highlights from UTSA’s Media Round Table 11.14.16
By Jerry Briggs
TAUAEFA TARGETING UPHELD
A targeting call on UTSA linebacker Josiah Tauaefa from last weekend will be upheld, and he will have to sit out the first half Saturday at Texas A&M, a Conference USA official said in an email on Monday.
Tauaefa, the Roadrunners' leading tackler, was flagged for targeting in the third quarter of UTSA's game last weekend at Louisiana Tech.
By conference rule, Tauaefa was ejected at that time. Because the infraction came in the second half, he was subject to suspension for the first half of his team's next game.
UTSA (5-5) will play A&M (7-3) in College Station on Saturday. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. at Kyle Field.
Roadrunners coach Frank Wilson has had players ejected for targeting, or, hitting by the defense above the shoulders of an offensive player, in each of the team's last three games.
Wilson said he has always told his players to hit lower, but he is re-emphasizing it in the wake of calls against Marcus Davenport (against North Texas), Teddrick McGhee (against Middle Tennessee) and now Tauaefa.
Davenport served a suspension or the first half against Middle Tennessee. McGhee's infraction came in the first half, so he didn't have to sit out last weekend.
"When you're moving into a target, and the surface is tall, and it starts to decrease, it's difficult at times for a guy to change his body angle," the coach said. "We'll continue to teach it ... to target below the hip area."
A blow by a defensive player with the crown of his helmet above the shoulders of an offensive player is considered targeting.
"Certainly he didn't aim at his helmet (or) above his shoulder or neck area, but, ultimately, contact was made somewhere in the vicinity," Wilson said. "I thought it was more in the chest area. It'll be reviewed today by our conference office. We'll see what they come back with."
WILSON: 'MAYBE EMOTIONS GOT THE BEST OF US'
The UTSA Roadrunners will embrace the opportunity to play at 23rd-ranked Texas A&M, to experience the thrill of competing at Kyle Field, one of the legendary venues in college football.
Kickoff between UTSA (5-5) and heavily-favored A&M (7-3) is set for 11 a.m. Saturday.
Much will be written and said in coming days about the Roadrunners' first trip to Aggieland for a game that will be aired on national television on ESPN2.
At the same time, UTSA coach Frank Wilson spent a good chunk of time at his Monday morning news conference fielding questions from the media and talking about last weekend, the day his Conference USA title hopes died at Louisiana Tech.
Louisiana Tech downed UTSA 63-35 and won the C-USA West, clinching a spot in the C-USA title game.
"You have to give a lot of credit to our opponent," Wilson said. "They played extremely well and were well-prepared. The better team that day won the football game."
The Roadrunners fell behind early and couldn't catch up. They yielded a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening play and then dropped into a 35-7 hole near the end of the first half.
On the opening play, several things went wrong, including the kickoff, which was short, Wilson said.
In addition, it was low-trajectory, which didn't allow the coverage team enough time to get downfield before Carlos Henderson picked it up.
After that, Henderson broke four tackles, hit the perimeter at high speed and then outran UTSA to the other end zone.
"It was a great return," Wilson said.
The first-year UTSA coach said he thinks his players might have been a little too excited at the outset of what had been called the biggest game in school history.
"Maybe emotions got the best of us, with good intent," Wilson said, trying to explain the first-half lapses. "(But) I'd rather be that way than go up there afraid or non emotional and not prepared to try to win the football game."
Trailing by 28 after three quarters, UTSA outscored Louisiana Tech 21-7 to make it a 14-point game with four minutes left.
It prompted Wilson to try an onside kick, which backfired.
"(If) we get it (back and score), it's a seven-point game and whoo, boy, then we got one," he said. "But it didn't happen that way, and I'm OK with that. As long as we're fighting, I'm never going to hold my head down. Or, be down on our team for effort. We'll continue to fight. We'll fight all the way through this season."
The Bulldogs recovered the onside kick and returned it for a touchdown. Later, they intercepted UTSA and tacked on another touchdown with five seconds left on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.
"Our team tried to stop 'em," he said. "We did not do it. The quarterback stuck the ball out there. He got it in the end zone. I was hoping we cud have punched it out and scooped and scored and ran it the other way. They gave us an opportunity there. We didn't (take advantage). But, you know, we play yearly."
Wilson said he isn't certain about the status of running back Jalen Rhodes for Texas A&M. He said he'll know more after doctors evaluate results from a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test.
Another injury issue looms with offensive left tackle Jevonte Domond, who was receiving treatment Monday. But Domond was listed No. 1 on the depth chart, indicating that he is expected to play.
Looking ahead to UTSA's final two games at Texas A&M and at home against Charlotte, the Roadrunners can gain bowl eligibility for the first time in their six-year history with a victory in either one.
Wilson said he didn't want to comment.
"We'll go back to where we were," the coach said. "We'll deal with it one game at a time. We won't step out too far until we have the ability and the maturity to be able to handle that outlook. For us and for this team, we'll go week by week and game by game, and handle it accordingly."
The coach said he'll just talk this week about the Aggies, who have lost two in a row to fall out of contention for the College Football Playoff. A&M is an early 27-point favorite.
"It'll be fun," Wilson said. "To give our university, our team, that kind off exposure, to play an SEC team on national television, in front of a 100,000 people, it's something (our players) have not experienced yet. So, we're looking forward to the opportunity to go and compete, to give our very best."
FRANK WILSON TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS (Courtesy UTSA)
On moving on to Texas A&M …
“On to A&M, which is certainly a very worthy opponent and just two weeks ago was the number four team in the country. They certainly have the personnel and the quality of players to justify that on each side of the ball, as well as special teams. We have our work cut out for us to play a very good football team. We'll need to reflect on the things that are important to our football team in developing us game-by-game, correcting things that we did not do well and prepare to play a quality opponent."
On being matched up against Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis …
“It will be a lot of fun. You know, I worked side-by-side with him for six years. He's an outstanding football coach, one of the best in the business from a defensive coordinator perspective. Kevin Sumlin will have his team prepared to play and I think we'll get their very best at home."
On playing against a team like A&M at a place like Kyle Field …
“It will be fun. What an opportunity for the Roadrunners to go into an SEC venue and play a nationally televised game. It's an opportunity for our program to go out and compete against the very best in front of 100,000. This will be a great experience for our program."
On scheduling philosophy and creating a balance with non-conference games …
“As much as we can. A lot of it was done prior to me getting here. In the future, I'm fortunate enough to have a great administration with Lynn Hickey and Kellie Elliott that allows me to have a voice for what we're going to do in the future. Some of the scheduling was already done, so in spots we were able to tweak it here and there. In the future schedules, we'll be able to have a lot of say-so."
On the timing of a non-conference game in mid-November …
“It is what it is. In an ideal world, you like to be in conference (play) because of the parity, but the way the schedule is set it allows us to get up and really measure ourselves against one of the better teams in the country."
On the mood of the team after the loss on Saturday …
“We'll be fine because here's what we were able to see. At one point being down 42-14 and 49-21 in the fourth quarter and to get it to a two-possession game, you do the things that are necessary to win a football game. We tried an onsides kick and unfortunately it took a bounce the wrong way and they were able to score. And then we throw an interception and they get the ball down in there and score yet again, so it becomes once again a 28-point game instead of a 14-point game, which it was with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. If we're sitting here and the score is 35-49, you guys are talking about 'you guys never quit, you gave great effort.' But you go for the win and you give them a short field in two instances and they score on it. So now it's back to 'wow, the game got out of hand.' We're going to play the game to win. We're not going to play the game to try and stay close to them so it (the score) can look respectable. We could have easily kicked it deep and whatever. That's not playing to win. Our team, our kids deserved an opportunity to win the football game and so whether it's that, whether it's the fake punt, the fake field goal, we're going to do everything in our power to try and win the football game."
On what Josh Stewart has been through to get to where he is now …
“Never say die. Where there's a will, there's a way. To be persistent in the things you want in life and when opportunity knocks, seize the moment, and he's done that. He works his behind off in practice and it carries over to the game. It's a reflection of who he is and the character of the man that he is. We had no idea (about him) when we arrived. He was not one of the 85 scholarship recipients at the time, he had no caught a pass in a game or a scrimmage, so there was no way we could possibly know what he could become. But in time, it revealed itself. It's a direct reflection of the young man himself, of Frank Scelfo, of Jeff Kastl, our offensive coordinator and receivers coach, of developing him and putting him into a position to make plays."