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Film Room: Breaking Down Arizona's Big Play Against UTSA's Roadrunners

Let's take a quick peek at the other big mistake UTSA made last thursday.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Reading the college football world’s reaction to the UTSA-Arizona game you would be forgiven if you thought the Roadrunners won the game. That, my friends, is a moral victory defined. For the Original 18 members, and for the fans of the program who were hungrily gathering up any crumbs of information about their Roadrunners way back when Larry Coker was working around local high school practice schedules, moral victories are not enough. They recognize that this group has the best chance of all the incarnations (all four) of UTSA Football to beat the big name teams. The combination of experience and surprise make the Runners the perfect underdogs. They are good enough to beat the more talented squads because they are just enough of an unknown quantity to be underestimated, and thus, to shrink the talent gap.

Every coach thinks worst-case scenario and will talk up Minot State as if they are the defending BCS National Champions. Still, there is something to be said about Oklahoma State’s Head Coach Mike Gundy’s comments about UTSA being a "conference" game..

That said, moral victories are not actual victories. UTSA played a hell of a game against Arizona until, quite famously, Runner QB Tucker Carter lofted likely the worst pass of his career.

That was the mistake everyone remembers. The one that was most uncharacteristic is the huge missed-tackle to start the game. The one that went for 85-yards. Let's take a look.


UTSA is in their standard 4-2-5 with what looks to be 2-Blue coverage. . The Rover safety, in this case Mauricio Sanchez, and the corner back Darrian Starling are reading the inside receiver. If he breaks out under 8-yards CB Starling picks him up and Rover Safety Sanchez take the outside receiver.

So what happened here? Well Starling made the right read, he picked up the quick out cut by the inside man. He was just held up on the go-route bumping him, which is why he wasn’t able to see the ball floating over his head as he flew toward the flat. Was that his fault? That’s debatable. He made the right read, but was obstructed. I’m more inclined to chalk this up to great offense than poor defense. Arizona QB Anu Soloman made the read and the throw at exactly the right time that Darrien Starling would be temporarily blinded. If he throws that one second earlier or later this play is likely intercepted.

Beyond the throw and catch – which would have netted a first down and a solid gain for the first play of the game – the touchdown happens because Mauricio Sanchez gets worked in the open field. Such is football.

Still, the Runners did a hell of a job eliminating these kinds of missed tackles for most of the game. Arizona is a well-drilled offense under an innovative head coach so getting slightly out-schemed is nothing to be ashamed of.

UTSA is tough in that they largely do not beat themselves. Oklahoma State is still breaking in a few folks. If the Cowboys aren’t as patient as Arizona was, and the Runners defense plays like it did from play #2 on, this should be very close.

They’ll just need Tucker Carter to lose the Bret Favre impression.