The Birdcage returns for UTSA Football training

1-on-1 drill sparks week 2 of fall camp


SAN ANTONIO – The Birdcage drill is back, and University of Texas at San Antonio Football loves it.

During the Birdcage, players form a circle around two of their teammates engaged in 1-on-1 hitting drills — offense versus defense — which ignites the Roadrunners' competitive fire.

"When the offense wins, they storm us. When the defense wins, we storm them. It's just a lot of competition, and that's just one thing that I like about playing here. The Birdcage really brings the whole team together. When one person wins, it just riles everybody up. It gets everybody pumped up, and it makes everybody want to get in Birdcage," said C.J. Levine, senior safety. "When coach puts names up on the board, we're asking him to go out there. But it's a coach's decision, so you've got to always be ready each and every day to go in Birdcage, because you just never know."

UTSA opened fall camp last Friday, and players put on full pads for the first time Wednesday, giving the Roadrunners their first taste of the Birdcage this season.

Thursday was round two inside the cage. Back-to-back days of the Birdcage is not a problem for these players, though.

“It's great because you get to see competition between each and every position group. Safeties only go against running backs or receivers or tight ends, so we face a variety of different sizes of people. And us going up against big bodies, little bodies, we have to be aware of where we're going to fit, how we're going to hit them, how we're going to stay lower than them," Levine said. "It's just like knowing your opponents and knowing the differences in what they can do."

Head coach Frank Wilson introduced the Birdcage in 2016, which was his first season with the Roadrunners. He said the technique is designed to teach the fundamentals of football.

The Birdcage is part of what Wilson calls "Built by UTSA.”

"We have taken the motto of hashtagging 'Built by UTSA.' And so we said to the team today, 'What does that mean?' It means having the wherewithal and the fortitude to get through tough times, a grueling tough session that has been prepared through fall camp, winter workouts, a spring session and a summer session for camp," Wilson said. "That propels you in position to have a 14-game season. That's 12 regular season games, a conference game and a bowl game. That's our goal. That's our objective year in, year out. So the things that we do now become imperative to make steps in that direction."

The Roadrunners hope the Birdcage will help them secure their second bowl game in three seasons.  

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