Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats Football: UA holds off pesky UTSA



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Arizona freshman Nick Wilson  has 278 yards on 37 carries in the first two games of the season

Arizona freshman Nick Wilson has 278 yards on 37 carries in the first two games of the season

The Arizona Wildcats ventured into Texas for the first time last night since losing big against Oklahoma State in the 2010 Alamo Bowl at San Antonio.

Arizona escaped with a 26-23 win this time, against fledgling Texas-San Antonio (which is only in its fourth year of competition). At least Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez will certainly have the ear of his team this week when the Wildcats prepare for visiting Nevada next Saturday.

The Wildcats’ record, now 2-0, is what improved the most after last week’s 58-13 win over UNLV in the season opener. True freshman running back Nick Wilson, playing in place of starter Terris Jones-Grigsby (ankle), continued to amaze and placekicker Casey Skowron made four field goals, but the offense behind redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon did not take advantage of most of its opportunities.

Arizona’s defense, which collapsed immediately after a fourth-down conversion by UTSA midway through the fourth quarter, withstood the Roadrunners in the three following possessions.


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UTSA quarterback Tucker Carter completed a 25-yard pass to tight end David Morgan on a 4th-and-11 situation. Two plays later, against a bewildered Arizona defense, running back David Glasco II scored from two yards and Sean Ianno made the extra-point to cut the lead to 26-23 with 7:32 left in the game.

Arizona’s defense shook it off and was stout thereafter with senior defensive end Reggie Gilbert getting a critical third-down sack in UTSA’s next possession. It was Arizona’s third sack after the Wildcats had only one last week against UNLV. Sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III, who finished with 11 tackles, had one of the sacks. Sophomore safety Tellas Jones had the other sack.

Wright’s pressure on Carter later in the fourth quarter resulted in a hurried throw and a Jared Tevis interception with 1:20 left in the game. It was Arizona’s second interception in the young season (Will Parks had one last week). The Wildcats have yet to turn the ball with Solomon leading the offense.


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Solomon connected with Cayleb Jones on an 85-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage and finished completing 17 of 32 attempts for 231 yards. Solomon, however, had trouble operating the Wildcats in the red zone as they settled for the four Skowron field goals.

Solomon, who engineered an offense that was 4 of 15 in third-down conversions, also opted to take a safety in the second quarter rather than try to throw the ball away after flushed out of the pocket.

“There are so many things we have to clean up and get better at but I didn’t see anybody lose their poise, other than that play,” Rodriguez told KCUB (1290-AM) after the game. “I told the guys I would rather win ugly than lose pretty, and it was not pretty.”

But it was a win and Arizona can complete the non-conference portion of their schedule 3-0 with a victory over Nevada next week. That would put the Wildcats halfway to becoming bowl eligible for the third consecutive time under Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also can be assured that he has depth at running back with Wilson’s performance and Jones-Grigsby equally dangerous after Jones-Grigsby ran for 124 yards last week. Arizona’s rushing totals after two games: 92 carries for 586 yards, 6.4 yards per carry and 293 yards per game.

Arizona is accomplishing those numbers without career rushing leader Ka’Deem Carey, who left for the NFL after his junior season. Wilson has two 100-yard games in his first two games whereas Carey did not eclipse that mark as a freshman in 2011. Carey, who was a backup to Keola Antolin that season and played in a more passing-oriented offense under Mike Stoops, had his best mark of 92 yards against ASU that season.

Wilson rushed for 174 yards on 30 carries against UTSA after gaining 104 on seven rushes last week. He has 278 yards on 37 carries, an average of 7.5 yards per carry.

When he was told by KCUB’s Dana Cooper of his accomplishments compared to Carey at the same time in their careers, Wilson said, “Thank you. I don’t know how to respond to that.”

It was one of the few times he was stumped all night.

[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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