UTSA Seeks To Rebuild Offensive Front

If UTSA doesn't want to call 2018 a rebuilding year, then perhaps they'll acknowledge that it'll be a reloading season. A lot of reloading. In a season where the Runners seeks to replace a two-year starter at quarter, three multi-year starters at receiver, and a starting tight end, the biggest area of concern might be up front. The Roadrunners replace 4/5 of their offensive line. If that unit doesn't gel, it may not matter who's playing quarterback or catching passes. 

UTSA loses Kyle McKinney, Austin Pratt, Stefan Beard, and Reed Darragh. Those four accounted for 92 career starts. Add in backup Juan Perez-Isidoro, and the Roadrunners lose over 100 career starts. The loss of McKinney is mitigated somewhat by his season-ending injury last season. The injury meant that Jordan Wright made ten starts in 2017. The other returning starter, Josh Dunlop, looks to have the left tackle job nailed down. 

Dunlop was a steal out of Dodge City last season. He walked onto campus ready-made to protect the edge. His wing span combined with his quiet base makes him a very good tackle in CUSA. 

Everything else is up for grabs and largely unknown. 

A cohesive offensive line is a unit, five players working together. It's not as easy as finding five large humans and lining them up shoulder to shoulder. The offensive line requires more communication and coordination than any other group on the field. Moving pieces within that group isn't simple as they aren't interchangeable. Having swing players, capable of playing multiple spots is vital to give a coach flexibility. 

That's what makes Jordan Wright valuable. Wright, a rising senior from North Shore via Trinity Valley, can play any of the interior positions, so he may move into center to replace Pratt. Center is the quarterback of the offensive line, so much so that in some spread systems centers are calling the snap cadence.  Almost every center will make line calls, including identifying the Mike linebacker for counting/assignment purposes, making blitz and combo calls, and relaying information. He choreographs the cohesion. 

Dominic Pastucci showed enough as a true freshman to make his way into the starting lineup at tackle. He's got some of the dreaded waist bender in him, but he's serviceable at tackle. A year in a collegiate weight room and film study could take of some of those technical issues. 

When we talk about technical skills, we're talking about things like a set or a player's posture in pass protection, his feet in his kick step, his hand placement, and how he uses leverage to win one on one matchups. Big guys with great physical tools but bad technical skills are liabilities. 

When we talk about physical tools, we talk about things that you typically can't coach like height, arm length, natural strength, and fluid movement from the hips, knees, and shoulders. Most players can improve technically, but making significant gains in physical skills is more difficult. 

To augment the lack of experience, Frank Wilson has gone the junior college route. Bosah Osakwe, Treyvion Shannon, and Jalyn Galmore are all options and JUCO products. Osakwe moves like a guard and probably handles himself better in close quarters. 

Shannon played left tackle at Mississippi Gulf Coast, against big-time competition. Shannon isn't fluid or technically sound, so he's a bit more of a project than Dunlop was when he arrived. Galmore played tackle in the same league as Shannon, at Itawamba. He's technically the best of the bunch, but he may be better suited inside as well. 

Redshirt Sophomore Josh Oatis has seen live action once; we liked his physicality coming out of Gulfport, Mississippi. That trait is hard to develop if it doesn't exist naturally. He'll compete for time at tackle. David Anzaldua is a 330 pound, senior guard out of Edinburgh North. He saw action in 2015 and played mostly on special teams in 2016 and eight games, again mostly on special teams in 2017. 

Kevin Davis is a redshirt freshman from Angleton. Davis played tackle in high school and could factor either inside or outside. He's got good feet and some nasty as well. 

Lots of names, not a lot of known commodities. New line coach Darrell Funk has his work cut out for him. Hopefully, he can figure out which pieces fit where in fifteen spring practices. If linemen lead the program in San Antonio, UTSA is looking for leaders this spring. 

The Runners...