UTSA Defensive Preview

UTSA plays a unique defense. Read on to see what it is, who to watch out for, and more.

Arizona takes on UTSA on Saturday and there is some talent on the defensive side of the ball for the Roadrunners.

The front four might be the strength of this UTSA team. There isn't a pass rusher to worry about, but in the 4-2-5 that isn't always necessary.

Defensive ends Cody Rogers and Jarron Harris are very similar players. Both weigh around 250 pounds and while they can rush the passer at times, they make their bones containing the run.

Where the defensive ends are slightly undersized, that isn't the case with the defensive tackles.

Weighing in at 315 pounds, Ashaad Mabry is the epitome of a run-stuffer. His impact doesn't show up in the box score, but a cursory view of the UTSA defense bears out his importance.

Lining up next to Mabry is Richard Burge. Not quite the gap-filler Mabry is, Burge is nonetheless solid defending the run.

The linebacking unit is led by 6-foot-2, 230-pound veteran Steve Kurfehs. Already a strong run defender, look for Kurfehs to be moved around in an attempt to free him up to get after Denker.

The MIKE linebacker spot is manned by unproven 225 pound sophomore Drew Douglas. He figures to get some unimpeded attempts to tackle Carey, easier said than done.

The UTSA secondary leaves something to be desired. Although Triston Wade is a play-making cornerback, he is slight of build and can be pushed around by bigger receivers.

Cornerbacks Crosby Adams and Darrien Starling possess a wealth of experience, but the undersized corners have had a difficult time matching up so far this season.

Safety Nic Johnston is another player with a penchant for making big plays. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound safety can be effective rushing the passer and defending the long ball.

The other safety, Brian King, has some playing experience, but is still largely unproven.

Players to Watch

#61 DT's Richard Burge/ #97 Ashaad Mabry: The mammoth tackles don't put up big numbers, but it is impossible to overstate their importance. Both are key players in preventing other teams from running the ball.

#7 CB Triston Wade: The leader of UTSA's secondary, Wade is an incredibly savvy player who is always around the ball. Look for Denker to stay away from him. #44 LB Steve Kurfehs: One of the best pass rushers on the team, Kurfehs is arguably the best player on the UTSA defense. It's imperative for the Arizona offensive line to be aware of him at all times.

Keys to the Game

Pass the Ball: Given the defensive system UTSA runs, this HAS to be the game Arizona opens up the passing attack. The Wildcats don't need Denker to throw for more than 500 yards, as Oklahoma State did last week, but 200 plus yards shouldn't be too much to ask.

Hit the open man: Continuing with the passing theme, Denker has to hit the open receiver. He won't be counted on to make plays by himself, but he can't afford to continue to overshoot open receivers.

Continue to Run the Ball: Stopping the run is the one strength of the UTSA defense. Oklahoma State wasn't able to get anything going on the ground, but the Cowboys also don't have the best running back in the country.

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