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Split Squad Practices Give UTSA a Boost

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Head coach Frank Wilson is taking UTSA in a new direction when it comes to preparing for the fall season.

UTSA v Arizona
Keep an eye on UTSA sophomore running back Jalen Rhodes this fall to take some pressure off Jarveon Williams in the backfield.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The UTSA Roadrunners officially kicked off their first season under the direction of head coach Frank Wilson last week. The former LSU running backs coach and recruiting coordinator has not been slow to implement huge changes to the program, leading returning quarterback Dalton Sturm to proclaim the staff’s season preparation as “one hundred times better” than under the direction of Larry Coker.

One huge change that caught my eye is the Roadrunners’ shift to split-squad practices. Per new UTSA beat writer Tim Griffin, the change is intended to maximize the number of practice repetitions for each player in the program.

The new coach chose to break his players into two groups with a morning session for younger players while veterans constituted most of those at the afternoon practice. With fewer players taking repetitions than if the team was whole, Wilson believed that bulking up on the work made sense for the greater good of his team.

“The reality is when you have four guys in a position group, the only time you can get adequate teaching and repetition is this, because we believe that experience is the best teacher,” Wilson said. “They can get our undivided attention when they have their own practices. It allows each group to have the attention they need to develop.”

While this is generally a great set up for any coaching staff willing to subject themselves to running two extra hours of practice in 100° south Texas heat, the addition of split squad practices is particularly wise given that UTSA’s staff is seeking to implement an entire new system on both sides of the ball. Even veteran players have a lot to learn.

The additional practice for younger players is especially beneficial to Manny Harris, Jaylon Henderson, and Clay Roberts as the young quarterbacks may have been short on practice snaps as veterans Dalton Sturm and Jared Johnson battle it out for the starting spot. The younger guys will have an opportunity to build chemistry with the receivers they’ll still be throwing to three or four years from now. This split-squad schedule is set to complete on Monday as the Roadrunners will begin full-squad practices on Tuesday.

Per a fall camp schedule obtained through a source close to the program, every minute of the Roadrunners’ fall camp is meticulously plotted, from team meetings and cold tub therapy to mandatory snack time and a presentation on positive mental health from a UTSA Social Work professor.

Make no mistake, the Roadrunners have a long way to go before they’re ready to compete for a conference title. That being said, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the UTSA coaching staff is taking intelligent and abundant strides to build a winning foundation in the program. With devoted buy-in from players and recruits it shouldn’t take long for Frank Wilson and his staff to elevate UTSA’s football program to a new ceiling.