Arizona football faces potent UTSA offense
Kenny Bias runs the ball against Oklahoma State at the Alamodome. (Photo by Jeff Huehn)
In the past two games, Arizona football’s defense has held opponents to a total of 13 points. And those points were all UNLV’s, as the Wildcats shut out NAU in week one.
The UTSA Roadrunners, however, have shown that Arizona’s defense will be tested this week.
“I’ve been really impressed with UTSA,” Rodriguez said. “It’s going to be a challenge.”
Although the Roadrunners lost to No. 12 Oklahoma State last week, they still managed to score 35 points. In week one, Mississippi State was only able to score three points on the Cowboys.
UTSA totaled 504 yards last week. The team has a quick offense, which concerns Rodriguez.
“You have to be very disciplined, defensively,” Rodriguez said. “They have a nice system; they do a good job executing. They have some speed, too. There’s a lot of concern for us.”
The Wildcats have one less thing to worry about, however, because UTSA sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bias was not listed on the depth chart for this week’s game. Bias led the team with 96 receiving yards last week and accounted for three Roadrunner touchdowns.
But according to Arizona defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, the Roadrunners like to play a lot of different people, making it difficult for the Wildcats’ defense to know what the grouping is.
As a result, the squad has been working on a number of different formations, senior linebacker Jake Fischer said. Fischer said the Roadrunners often run the same plays, but shift a lot of motion in attempts to out-leverage opponents.
“We just got to know when to trade,” Fischer said. “If we do that, we can get around the blocks and force the ball back into the defense, and we’ll be fine.”
Besides an offense with speed and good execution, the Roadrunners bring an impressive quarterback to the table.
Quarterback Eric Soza redshirted his freshman year at Texas State before transferring to UTSA. He is currently a graduate student. In his career at UTSA, he earned the title of the program’s all-time leading passer.
“He’s really efficient. He’s a smart guy,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know if a lot of people know about him, but a lot of people will know about him, especially if he has a performance like he did last week against Oklahoma State.”
Against Oklahoma State, Soza passed for 308 yards and three touchdowns.
The recipe for stopping Soza, Fischer said, is to rush him.
“We’ve got to play good in the back and get a little pressure on him,” Fischer said. “Sometimes he looks a little too comfortable back there. If he’s comfortable, then he has a great arm.”
But junior safety Jared Tevis said he’s not concerned about Soza.
“We have to account for every player, and he’s a good player,” said Tevis. “I wouldn’t say concerned is the right word for it — we’re not scared of anyone. We’re just trying to account for him.”
— Follow Scarlett McCourt @scarlettnoelani