Bloodied but unbowed after yielding 605 yards in UTSA's 56-35 loss to nationally ranked Oklahoma State last week, the Roadrunners' defense had no problem coming up with a rallying cry as it prepared to face Arizona All-America running back Ka'Deem Carey.
Swarm and punish, junior safety Brian King said.
UTSA (1-1) plays Arizona (2-0) at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.
We've got to do a good job of swarming this back, Roadrunners coach Larry Coker said. He's a great player.
Coached by Rich Rodriguez, the Wildcats beat UNLV (58-13) last week and Northern Arizona (35-0) in their opener.
UTSA opened the season with a 21-13 road victory against New Mexico, and earned some respect with a gritty performance against No. 13 OSU.
The biggest thing is just to get better, Roadrunners defensive coordinator Neal Neathery said. I think usually your best improvement is from Week 1 to Week 2. But playing New Mexico in Week 1 and Oklahoma State in Week 2, there's no carryover. Almost none. And so I think our biggest improvement will be from Week 2 to Week 3.
Neathery said he thinks UTSA, particularly the defense, will get a lot out of the game against the Cowboys.
It'll make us much better, he said. We're not going to see anybody go faster or have better people throwing and catching the football this year.
Carey led FBS in rushing last season
After getting burned by OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh through the air last week, the Roadrunners now face the challenge of trying to slow down an Arizona ground game keyed by Carey.
Obviously, they're much better running the ball, sophomore linebacker Drew Douglas said. They've got a big O-line to do it and a great running back.
Carey, a 5-foot-10, 207-pound junior, led the FBS in rushing last year with 1,919 yards on 303 carries and scored 19 touchdowns. He averaged 148.4 yards per game and 6.4 per carry.
He's fast, Neathery said. He's got that great ability to give you a juke and really start up and accelerate in a hurry. Barry Sanders kind of stuff. I'm not saying he's Barry Sanders, but that ability to start and stop.
The Roadrunners' defense went back to the basics this week as it worked to improve its tackling.
We've got to wrap up, King said. The main thing we've got to focus on is making tackles. Everything else will play out on its own. We have to minimize the mental mistakes.
While the UTSA offense gained a school-record 504 yards against OSU, the Cowboys kept the Roadrunners' defense scrambling with their fast-paced offense throughout most of the game.
Walsh completed 24 of 27 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns before giving way to backup Clint Chelf after the Cowboys went ahead 42-7 with 9:47 left in the third quarter.
OSU gained only 87 yards rushing against UTSA
Arizona also runs a hurry-up offense, but the Wildcats would rather shove the ball down a defense's throat than throw it.
The main thing is, going against the run game, we have to make sure we read our keys, stay square and do like we always do, and control the line of scrimmage, said defensive end Codie Brooks, a redshirt freshman who had two sacks against OSU.
UTSA held the Cowboys to only 87 rushing yards on 32 attempts, a 2.7 average per carry.
What we went against last week will help us out a little bit because Arizona is up-tempo, the same as Oklahoma State, Brooks said. But we know we'll get more running this week. It's all about lining up and getting to the ball. They're going to run their plays as fast as Oklahoma State did.
We take a lot of pride in our run defense. We're going to make sure we shut it down, because I know that if we can shut it down, passing is not what Arizona likes to do. So if we can get them into that and get into our pass rush, I feel that we'll be in a good position to win the game.
Although OSU gained 605 yards and scored 51 points, Neathery said the UTSA defense did some things well in the loss.
I was really proud of them Saturday, he said. They didn't ever stop fighting. A lot of times on the bench you've got to break things up and try to get things back together. We never unraveled. I think it would have been easy to in that scenario. They weren't intimidated by the whole deal. It was good from that standpoint.
Obviously, we didn't feel good afterward. It wasn't enjoyable to get beat like that. But we'll learn a lot from it.
The Roadrunners get a chance to start applying some of those lessons against Arizona on Saturday night.