After the Arizona Wildcats’ offense enjoyed a record-setting performance in their 58-13 win last week against UNLV, it was the defense’s turn to earn some glory in a nail-biting win at UTSA.
Senior defensive lineman Reggie Gilbert’s sack of UTSA quarterback Tucker Carter forced the Roadrunners to punt with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Then, with 1:20 to play, senior safety Jared Tevis’ diving interception of Carter preserved the Wildcats’ 26-23 win.
Here’s a closer look at how UA improved to 2-0, by the numbers:
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Wildcats remain undefeated after Thursday night: they have yet to commit a turnover this season.
The Wildcats needed all four field goals converted by kicker Casey Skowron on Thursday. The junior connected on all of his attempts (from 38, 23, 44 and 28 yards) to improve to 7-for-8 on the season.
A point of emphasis for head coach Rich Rodriguez heading into this week was to “create more negative-yard plays.” Against UTSA, Arizona’s defense responded with seven tackles for a loss, including three sacks.
With the win, Rodriguez improved to 10-0 against non-conference opponents in his two-plus seasons in Tucson.
It took the Wildcats just 18 seconds to score against the Roadrunners, as freshman quarterback Anu Solomon connected on an 85-yard touchdown toss to sophomore Cayleb Jones on the first offensive play of the game. Three of UA’s TD drives this season have come in fewer than 20 seconds.
Tevis and sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright combined for 27 tackles (18 solo) against UTSA. Wright also recorded his second sack of the season.
It didn’t cost them the game, but the Wildcats shot themselves in the foot with eight penalties — including a pair of false-start flags in the fourth quarter — for 73 yards.
Jones had a game-high 143 receiving yards, most of which he gained on his first TD of his collegiate career.
With an increased workload due to an injury to senior running back Terris Jones-Grigsby, freshman tailback Nick Wilson followed up his 104-yard rushing performance in his collegiate debut vs. UNLV with a 174-yard effort on the ground Thursday.