Friday September 5th, 2014

On signing day of 2010, Texas-San Antonio was welcoming its first class of players ever. Four years later at the Alamodome, the Roadrunners had a chance to pull an upset over Arizona but fell just short, 26-23. The fact that it felt like UTSA missed a golden opportunity over a Power Five opponent shows how far Larry Coker and the Roadrunners have come. And Arizona has to feel lucky to escape with a win to move to 2-0.

A week after piling up 787 yards in a 58-13 win over UNLV, Arizona struck with a score on the first play of the game, an 85-yard pass from Anu Solomon to Cayleb Jones. But the Roadrunners punched back. After falling behind 10-0, the Roadrunners stormed back to take the lead 16-13 with 4:43 left in the second quarter after forcing a safety. They cut the Arizona lead to 26-23 (and would have had it tied had the Roadrunners not missed a close field goal) with 7:32 to play and got two stops to get the ball back with a chance to take the lead but couldn’t make anything happen. Tucker Carter threw an interception with 1:20 to play, stifling a final chance at a comeback.

Here are three thoughts from Arizona’s tight win in the Alamodome on Thursday night:

1. Wildcats seeing red

Arizona was clicking offensively ... until it got into the red zone. In five trips inside the 20, the Wildcats came away with one touchdown and four field goals. Against a team like Texas-San Antonio, where ‘Zona had a speed advantage at the skill positions, that’s not necessarily a problem, but that won’t fly later in the year in games against Oregon, USC or UCLA. Part of that can be chalked up to jitters from Anu Solomon (17-of-32, 231 passing yards, one TD), the redshirt freshman who has been more good than bad so far.

2. Running on the Roadrunners

Nick Wilson carried the ball 30 times for 174 yards, marking the 19th straight game the Wildcats had a 100-yard runner. Arizona ended up with 223 rushing yards on the day. There were legitimate questions about whether or not Arizona would be running the ball well early after Ka'Deem Carey moved onto the NFL. It’s been a seamless transition so far, as the freshman Wilson has 278 yards in his first two games. Carey did it all for the Wildcats over the past two seasons, finishing with 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns.

3. This block though

Arizona’s speed may have proved too much for the Roadrunners to handle, but Larry Coker’s team played hard and smart throughout. It’s impressive to see how far Texas-San Antonio come despite signing its first class as a football program on signing day of 2010 and playing its first game in 2011.

Senior Nate Leonard wrote an essay for SI.com on Thursday, saying how committed those first players were to building something out of nothing.

Our first season of play was like an ice-cold drinking fountain at the end of a cruel mirage. There was football in San Antonio and we were going to make sure that it was here to stay. We were going to make sure that we built this program from the ground up and did it the right way. We knew that we were bound to leave a legacy and be a fiber in the fabric of something that would last forever.

They clearly belong, and they’re leaving a legacy as they go, as evidenced by this block by Josiah Monroe on William Parks early in the second quarter:

[GIF via SB Nation]

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