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UTSA’s offense turns towards familiar faces as the Roadrunners begin spring practice

Is continuity the missing ingredient in Frank Wilson’s UTSA rebuild?

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Southern Mississippi Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Once a G5 media darling, Frank Wilson and his UTSA Roadrunners have failed to maintain the momentum of Wilson’s hot start in San Antonio. While Wilson’s recruiting classes and defenses have been as good as advertised, Wilson’s offenses have gone from average, to bad, to historically awful.

After receiving the dreaded “vote of confidence” from Athletic Director Lisa Campos, Wilson immediately made moves in an attempt to improve his offense. The Roadrunners will employ their third offensive coordinator in as many years, however Wilson decided to turn to a familiar face instead of trusting an outsider to save his slipping job security.

Jeff Kastl has spent the last three years as the Roadrunners’ wide receivers coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator for the 2019 season. While Kastl’s receivers’ production has been dismal over the past two seasons, he did inject some life into the offense late in the season after being granted play calling duties in a 24-21 loss to North Texas.

Under Kastl’s direction, everything about the offense looked much more urgent and sudden. The Roadrunners played at a much quicker pace and didn’t shy from airing the ball out on any down and distance. Perhaps selecting Kastl as his offensive coordinator shows that Frank Wilson is willing to enable his offense to be bold enough to dare to make mistakes?

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Florida International
Former UTSA wide receiver Greg Campbell showed what the Roadrunners’ playmakers could do in an offense willing to roll the dice.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

One positive to Kastl’s promotion is certainly his familiarity with UTSA’s talented roster. Greg Campbell Jr.s’ explosive, record-breaking performance in last season’s UNT game is a great data point as to how Kastl could make the most of the talent he’s afforded. A fifth-year senior that hadn’t made a huge impact up to that point, Campbell racked up a school-record 186 yards through the air against the Mean Green, realizing his untapped potential that three previous offensive coordinators failed to utilize.

If roster familiarity is Kastl’s strong suit, then he’ll have plenty of opportunities with UTSA’s 2019 offensive depth chart. The Roadrunners return all but one of their starting offensive linemen, all but one of their notable wide receivers, an extremely promising young running back, and two experienced tight ends. How valuable it is to return starters from a team that finished in the bottom five of most offensive categories remains to be seen, but if you prescribe to the notion that experience and raw talent wins games, then UTSA should theoretically be in much better shape in 2019.

Big “ifs”, but if the Roadrunners’ returning players step up on offense, it could still have little bearing on the success of the offense. Jeff Kastl will be assigned with sorting out an absolute mess of a quarterbacks room, a task that ultimately will likely decide the fate of the entire UTSA coaching staff.

Here’s UTSA’s options at quarterback this season:

  • Frank Harris - A super athletic dual-threat sophomore QB who won the starting job last year before suffering his second torn ACL.
  • Jojo Weeks - A then-true freshman who looked simultaneously talented and in over his head in his few starts.
  • Lowell Narcisse - An LSU transfer who lost his starting job at Gulf Coast Community College to a 5’11” freshman.
  • Suddin Sapien - A dual-threat true freshman, Sapien completed less than 50% of his passes in his senior year of high school.
  • Cordale Grundy - UTSA’s primary starting quarterback in 2018, Grundy regressed steadily over the span of the season, losing playing time to three different quarterbacks.

That’s a whole lot of lemons and UTSA is going to need to brew up some sweet lemonade this season if they want to reach a bowl game. This is a diverse group of athletes that, for the most part, have very little in common in regards to on-field ability. Picking out a starter will only get the offense so far, as the backup will likely have a completely different skill set, and will need to be accommodated accordingly.

It’s a hugely important year for this UTSA’s offense, and the spring season will be critical to getting the unit out of the basement. Jeff Kastl and Frank Wilson will need to hit the ground running on day one to identify a quarterback and build a capable offense around him — a task that has eluded Wilson and his staff for three years now.