Arizona (1-0) at Texas-San Antonio (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, September 4, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alamodome (72,000) -- San Antonio, Texas. Television: FS1. Home Record: Arizona 1-0, UTSA 0-0. Away Record: Arizona 0-0, UTSA 1-0. Neutral Record: Arizona 0-0, UTSA 0-0. Conference Record: Arizona 0-0, UTSA 0-0. Series Record: Arizona leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a historic performance in their season opener, the Arizona Wildcats hit the road for a non-conference clash with the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at the Alamodome on Thursday night.
The Wildcats and Roadrunners met for the first time last season, with UTSA making the trip to Tucson. Arizona was not kind to its guests, rolling to a 38-13 victory to move to 3-0 in early going.
Arizona is off to another quick start this season. Powered by a school-record 787 yards of total offense, the Wildcats made a mockery of UNLV in a 58-13 victory last week. The win improved the program to 17-10 under head coach Rich Rodriguez, and was also its seventh straight season-opening victory.
UTSA also had an impressive open to the 2014 campaign. The Roadrunners traveled to face Houston of the American Athletic Conference and completely baffled the Cougars, to the tune of a 27-7 victory. The Roadrunners, who are in just their third season as an FBS program, are 16-9 across these first three campaigns.
In the win over Houston, the Roadrunners certainly didn't do much to brag about on offense. They finished with just 263 yards, the bulk of which came on the ground, as they finished with 142 rushing yards and just 121 through the air. However, part of the success on the ground was due to the number of times they ran the ball, with 50 carries spread among five players.
David Glasco was clearly the top option, as he rushed the ball 25 times for 84 yards and also scored twice. However, he only averaged 3.2 yards per carry. Jarveon Williams was the more explosive back, tallying 54 yards and a score on 12 attempts (4.5 ypc).
Tucker Carter did not have to do too much in the passing game because of the bloated score and the reliance on the run game. The senior quarterback, who is stepping into the spot previously held by Eric Soza, didn't make many mistakes, and he was selective. He threw for just 121 yards on 15-of-24 passing. His offensive line kept him upright most of the time, with only two sacks recorded by Houston.
Kam Jones was Carter's favorite receiver, at least based on receptions. However, Jones only tallied 17 yards on four catches. Expect him to be more productive going forward, after he led the team in receiving yards (345) a year ago. Marcellus Mack (three receptions, 37 yards) and Williams (three receptions) also featured prominently, while Seth Grubb (one reception, 34 yards) made the biggest play of the game.
Obviously UTSA's offensive exploits were not that of a dominating team, but the effort on defense certainly was. The Roadrunners held Houston to just 208 yards of total offense, which was an improvement of nearly 170 yards over their average yield last year. They were particularly effective against the run, holding their hosts to minus-26 yards rushing.
Defensive tackle Ashaad Mabry had a big game, recording four tackles, including two for loss, one of which was a sack. The Roadrunners had four sacks as a team, and also forced five turnovers, four of which came on interceptions of UH quarterback John O'Korn.
Stopping Arizona so effectively will be a much more difficult task, especially after the display the Wildcats put on against UNLV. While Rodriguez has transformed Arizona into an offensive powerhouse in his three seasons, his teams had never come close to the yardage total it put up against UNLV.
What was even more surprising is the production came with a freshman at quarterback and a new running back with All-American Ka'Deem Carey now gone.
Anu Solomon won the starting quarterback job and for good reason. The first freshman to ever start an opener for Arizona, Solomon threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns on 25-of-44 passing, and he also added 50 rushing yards. He is the type of dual-threat quarterback that should thrive in Rodriguez's system.
Carey was an even bigger hole to fill on the roster, but Terris Jones-Grigsby and Wilson took no time in claiming the role. Jones-Grigsby tallied 124 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. Wilson was even more opportunistic, turning his seven totes into 104 yards and a score. In all, the Wildcats ran for 353 yards on 48 carries, holding true to Rodriguez's belief in the ground game.
Another positive for the Wildcats was the return of Austin Hill, who missed last season with an injury. The former Biletnikoff Award semifinalist scored on a 92-yard pass play and finished with a game-high 140 receiving yards. Samajie Grant (four receptions, 101 yards, TD) also showed a ton of speed and good hands.
Defense is still an area the Wildcats need to improve as the season continues. They allowed 371 yards to UNLV, but played well on third down, limiting the Rebels to a meager 4-of-15 success rate. Scooby Wright played extremely well to lead the unit, recording a team-high eight tackles, including a sack.
Solomon seems poised for stardom, and the rest of the UA offense should be highly productive all season long. UTSA is a solid group, but it lacks any real area of explosiveness. The Roadrunners will have much more trouble keeping the Wildcats in check than they did with the Cougars, even at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona 40, Texas-San Antonio 27
09/03 11:11:21 ET