The annual Football Fiesta kicks off at 1 p.m. today as Frank Wilson's 2018 squad finishes up spring ball. 2018 is a critical year for Wilson who's tasked with replacing a load of production as well as both coordinators, one by choice, the other by Alabama poaching. Here are few things to look for today:
The Roadrunners replace multi-year starter Dalton Sturm and will do so with some variance of a JC transfer or youth. With Frank Harris lost until at least midseason with a knee injury the battle now focuses on two competitors, JC transfer Cordale Grundy and sophomore Bryce Rivers. Harris was the front-runner until the injury, now that mantle probably passes to Grundy. Today's performance could go a long way determining the pecking order for 2018.
UTSA's offensive line lost several key contributors including multi-year starters Stefan Beard, Austin Pratt, Kyle McKinney, and Reed Darragh along with former starter and jack of all trades backup Juan Perez-Isidoro. It's grow up time for several young giants who played auxilary roles in 2017. Josh Oatis, Dominic Pastucci, and Zach Pare. More experienced players like Jordan Wright and Josh Dunlop need to become centerpieces of the rebuilt front. Newcomers Treyvion Shannon and Jayln Galmore, from the JC ranks, will need to find out where they fit. More critical is finding out which five-man combinations work well in concert. Watch for those combinations and re-combinations this afternoon.
The receiving position feels like Christmas morning, and it's time to open presents and see how Tykee Ogle-Kellog, Tariq Woolen, and Andrew McGowan look in the orange and blue. Wilson's recruited a different caliber of athlete at receiver over the past two seasons. They look like the starting frontcourt of a basketball team and might be the best assembly of raw talent at any position in UTSA history. With so much lost production at the position, that potential has to translate into production.
UTSA loses to pretty good corners in Devron Davis and Austin Jupe. The Roadrunners will break in several new faces, and two or three will be the primary pass defenders in 2018. Former walk-on Clayton Johnson continues to insert himself into the conversation. Javontavious Mosley played a backup role last season as a true freshman out of Tyler John Tyler, one of the most fertile grounds for great athletes in the state. We're also interested to see if Teddrick McGhee gets any run. He played significant minutes as a true freshman but missed last season.
With Al Borges coming into to take over the Roadrunner offense and Jason Rollins moving up to run the defense, expect some new looks from both side. Don't expect to see them today. Today will be pretty vanilla from both sides. Instead, it might be better to watch for combinations, how players interact with each other on the offensive and defensive lines. Does the defense lineup correctly? Are there blown assignments in either the line or the secondary? How are the quarterback-center exchanges? These seem like simple things, but every coach will tell you the foundation of a good team is whether they line up correctly and get the snap. If those things don't happen, your incredibly well thought out scheme is useless. If a coach can't trust you with the simple things, he'll never trust you with the complex. Cowboy's defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli emphasizes three things 1) line up 2) run to the football and 3) do it all again on the next play. That's what coaches are looking for at UTSA, players that have applied what they've learned over the last three weeks and play with great effort, after all, jobs are on the line.
The UTSA Spring Game kicks off at 1 p.m. at Dub Ferris on Loop 1604.