By Jerry Briggs
After 14 tough practices, the UTSA Roadrunners are ready to suit up one last time to close out spring drills.
They'll complete the camp with the annual UTSA Football Fiesta Spring Game, set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Farris Stadium. Fans are welcome, and admission is free for the controlled scrimmage.
"Everybody’s ready to get out there," sophomore linebacker Josiah Tauaefa said after a Wednesday morning workout. "It’s the last time to put on pads and go as a team until fall. I think everybody is ready to showcase what they have. What they’ve learned. What we’ve been working on, all spring."
The fans will want to see the likes of Tauaefa, who emerged as a standout last year -- a first-team, all-Conference USA player and a freshman All-American. But the coaches will pay special attention to young players trying to move up into the playing rotation.
"We’ve seen guys who, in the fall, came to us last summer and went straight into fall camp and took a reserve role," Coach Frank Wilson said. "Now with spring football, (they) have opportunity to make impact, to improve themselves, and we’ve done that at positions throughout our team.
"So you’d like to see those guys continue to develop, to watch them play in a game-like atmosphere. And see how they react, when a coach is not in the huddle with em, standing next to ‘em and they have to go out there and make a play.
"So, it’ll be good work for our team."
UTSA is coming off a historic sixth season in which it made its first appearance in a bowl.
Last December, the Roadrunners played at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. But after a fourth-quarter rally fell short, and the Roadrunners lost 23-20 to the New Mexico Lobos, players vowed that they weren't satisfied and wanted more success.
Senior receiver Kerry Thomas Jr. said he thinks the Roadrunners have made strides.
"I just think, collectively, as a team, we’re getting stronger," Thomas said. "Not just one side of the ball. Not just offense. Not just defense. I mean, we’re getting better collectively. Even special teams. We’re playing way better than we did last year.
"I think that’s the good thing about this team. We’re really developing and growing as a team. I tell you, that’s one of the most important things."
Spring Game Notes
Recovering from injuries, safety Nate Gaines, fullback Halen Steward and offensive lineman Austin Pratt haven't practiced this spring and won't play Saturday. Wilson said receiver Larry Stephens and offensive tackle Zach Pare are also out.
The coach said back first-team running back Jalen Rhodes also will be limited.
Farris Stadium is located at 8400 North Loop 1604 West.
Officials say both admission and parking are free, with gates to the stadium opening at 11 a.m.
Free bus transportation for UTSA students will be provided every 20 minutes fro 11:30 a.m. - 12:50 p.m. in front of the Convocation Center. The return buses will run every 20 minutes from 3-4:20 p.m. at the stadium.
Weather forecasts call for a high temperature of 83 degrees, cloudy skies and a 20 percent chance of rain.