The UTPB football team is less than two weeks away from kicking off the 2021 season.
As the Falcons get set to take the field after finishing 5-0 in the spring season, there is plenty of optimism and high hopes.
That enthusiasm comes from the depth the Falcons have coming back.
“This is probably the first year that we’re not going to have to depend on a lot of freshman to step in and fill depth,” assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Chris Mineo said during a press conference Monday. “As far as competition, it’s been across the board at every position.”
The Falcons got a further glimpse as to what they had following an intersquad scrimmage Saturday. Mineo added that both offense and defense had moments of success and it also presented a chance to get back into a routine that hadn’t been around since the spring.
“We tried to put those guys in situations that they haven’t been in for about six months,” Mineo said. “And then, we let our young guys get out there and play and see if any of them are able to step in and fill those roles for us.”
Quarterback Clayton Roberts added that he’s looking forward to getting back on the field and is encouraged by what he’s seen from the team through the first two weeks of camp.
“We do have a lot of guys coming back so I think we’re a step ahead from past seasons at this point,” Roberts said. “There are a lot of new guys but they’ve picked up everything pretty well especially on offense.”
Roberts added that he’s been able to take on more of a leadership role in the quarterback room.
He also said that the biggest thing that the team will need to hone in on the next couple of weeks that being able to build that trust and have solid communication.
The Falcons open the season at home on Friday, Sept. 3 against the University of Fort Lauderdale at Ratliff Stadium.
“I’ll say we’re all most excited about just the potential our team has,” Roberts said. “Potential doesn’t win games but we know that the sky’s the limit. So we’re going to work to go 1-0 every day and just win every game we can.”
>> SAYING THANK YOU: The UTPB athletic department announced Monday that it was going to be offering free admission to football games to students at Odessa College, Midland College, Ector County ISD and the UTPB Stem Academy.
All the students would need is to show a valid student ID.
Those interested in participating are asked to contact Richard Acosta, Associate Director of Athletics for External Operations, at (432) 552-3678.
>> HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS: The department also announced it would be honoring first responders during the Sept. 11 home football game against West Texas A&M.
Those interested in attending the game will have their tickets paid thanks to First Basin Credit Union and should contact Acosta for more information.
UTPB will also hand out 5,000 American flags in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
>> YEAR TWO UNDER WINKLER: UTPB women’s soccer coach Lynsey Winkler is eager to see what her team can do out on the pitch as the start of the season draws closer.
The Falcons will play a pair of scrimmages starting at 5 p.m. Thursday against Wayland Baptist and 5 p.m. Sunday against Cisco College.
As she gets to start her second year (and first fall season) as head coach, she says that being able to be together has helped her try in her goals of building up the program.
“I think the chemistry has been really great,” Winkler said. “We’ve got a lot of depth so it’s been exciting to see us kind of interchange and put the different pieces of the puzzle together.”
Winkler added that the biggest stride that she’s seen her team take so far is having a better understanding of the attacking style of play that she’s trying to implement.
“We’re going to score some goals this year and it’s going to be exciting,” she said. “I think last year we really struggled getting numbers into the attack. What we’re seeing in training is that we’re getting five of six people into the box and we’re creating chances. That’s the biggest difference I’ve seen.
Winkler announced the addition of two new assistant coaches in former UTPB soccer player Victoria Ramirez and Kaylee Overmeyer as a volunteer assistant coach.
UTPB opens the season Sept. 3 at Colorado Mesa.
>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas