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Happy Thanksgiving! Here is this week's Four Down Territory - Thanksgiving Edition:
THANKFUL FOR ADVERSITY
Often times in life (and in sports), you learn more about yourself in times of despair than you do in moments of triumph. While it would have been an amazing achievement for UTSA to defeat Texas A&M this past Saturday at Kyle Field in College Station, I think most in and around program felt like is was a true-measuring stick game. A game to see whether or not UTSA could hang in there with a big boy football team. I’ve visited Kyle Field once before for a Longhorns/Aggies game more than a dozen years ago. That was before renovations to the stadium made capacity over 100,000. Let me tell you, the first time you walk down that tunnel and onto that field, it as an intimidating sight. The stands extend high into the clouds almost like skyscrapers. And their proximity to the field are as good as any stadium in the country. It may not be a take-your-breath-away-moment, but it is close. Kyle Field is one of the cathedrals of football in Texas. And last weekend, the Roadrunners went in there, in front of more than 102,000 fans, and than held their own. Jeff Huehn is UTSA’s photographer. He’s the man behind the camera of all of the terrific photos on GoUTSA.com. He’s been apart of the program since the very beginning has been able to see things up close. Saturday after the game, he said this: “Gotta say it was pretty rewarding watching this still very young UTSA football program visit one of the great shrines of college football. They weren't quite good enough today but they weren't overwhelmed and they didn't flinch.” UTSA didn’t arrive this past weekend. They didn’t record a significant moment in their history. They lost the game. And there are no moral victories in sports. But Jeff’s comments are an accurate reflection of the day. What the Roadrunners did against the Aggies was show that they’re improving, that they’re headed in the right direction, and that they belong. All of that in a loss. Often times, you learn more about yourself from losing than you do from winning.
THANKFUL FOR PLAYERS
How great has this group of players been? The next time we’ll hear of a player getting in trouble or causing problems will be the first time. Some of that goes back to the type of character the previous coaching regime recruited. But a lot of it has to do with how well these players have meshed with Frank Wilson and the coaching staff. Let us not forget that a large majority of these players have known these coaches for less than a year. Except for a handful players, none of the current coaching staff recruited them or got to know them or their families. Instead, they were thrown into together. Usually when teams hire new coaches, there is a larger amount of attrition. Players leave. The best indication of how well these players meshed with these coaches is that we didn’t see much attrition at all. That says something. Yes it takes skill, technique, and work ethic for players to become a good football team. But there’s something more with this group. An understanding, a togetherness, and a mental toughness. It would have been easy for this team to pack it in after the Old Dominion loss or UTEP loss. Both were demoralizing. But they didn’t. And now they’re at the verge of something very special.
THANKFUL FOR FRANK
I don’t think anyone expected that Frank Wilson could turn around UTSA so quickly. Like many, I felt like Wilson would do a good job, and that maybe in a year or two the Roadrunners would be competing for postseason play. But to think that could to happen in the first year, that was almost unimaginable. Think back to this time one year ago. The Roadrunners were about to get throttled by Middle Tennessee on their way to a 3-9 season. There was so much angst and heartache surrounding the program then. Now, just one year later, excitement is at an all-time high. And while there are many reasons for that, it’s mostly because of Frank Wilson. He left a good/high-paying job at LSU and took a chance on UTSA. He took a chance so he could make history. He and the Roadrunners are about to do that. I don’t think any ever doubted it could happen. It’s just shocking that it’s happened so quickly.
THANKFUL FOR OPPORTUNITY
There are few instances in life when time stands still. The most significant moments often pass by us without notice. Saturday is one of those rare times when you can see it coming. For the first time ever, UTSA has an opportunity to become bowl eligible. A 6-6 record isn’t anything huge in the grand scheme college football. But right now, for UTSA, it’s the biggest moment in program history. UTSA Football is only six years old. And while it seems like the Roadrunners have seen a lot in those years, they’re still very young. Saturday will be a significant time in not only UTSA’s history, but also San Antonio’s history. For people around the program, they’ve been waiting for this moment for since the program kicked off in 2011. For many UTSA alumni, they’ve waited much longer than that. Get excited Roadrunner Nation. Your team is on the cusp of history. Mark me down as UTSA by double digits. Get ready to watch history Saturday. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! See you all at the ‘Dome Saturday.