Time to really start gearing up for what looms as one of the most pivotal games in UW’s schedule this season (okay, so they all are in their own way, but the difference between 3-3 and 2-4 seems really big).
So let’s preview the Arizona game, which kicks Saturday at 7:20 p.m.
First, here is Arizona’s team page from ESPN.com which includes most of the nuts and bolts stuff you’d want. Here are Arizona’s official game notes and depth chart.
Next, here is UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt’s assessment of the Arizona offense, which ranks first in the Pac-10 in rushing with 223.2 yards per game led by the 101.8 of Nic Grigsby, is sixth in passing (188.8 yards per game), and first in fewest sacks allowed (three):
“They have two really good running backs (Grigsby and Keola Antolin) and their offensive line is good, solid and physical and their wide outs are plenty athletic, so they have an offense where they get into two backs with 37 (Chris Gronkowski) as a fullback and an extra tight end and they try to pound the ball and play-action. And then they get into four wides (four WRS) and spread you out and create a lot of one-on-one mismatches. So we’ve got to work both gameplans and hopefully we hold up. … I think they are going to look at our film and say ‘hey, let’s see if we can run the ball on these guys and keep the ball out of Washington’s hands, out of Jake (Locker’s) hands, so we need to do a good job in the run game. … They have a lot of similarities (to Texas Tech) in their passing game — big splits and airing things out — but they have some power football in there, too.”
And here’s what UW offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier had to say about an Arizona defense that ranks fourth in the Pac-10 allowing 288.2 yards per game and is also tied for fourth in sacks with 11.
“They run around and play very, very aggressively. They have very good team speed. They play a lot of zone coverage with their eyes on the quarterback — they’ve got six interceptions — so they are very talented in the back end and their up front guys get after the passer. They get after you, but they cover in the back end so it’s hard because you want to get the ball off but they cover well.”
Finally, here’s the view on Arizona from a reporter who regularly covers the Wildcats, Anthony Gimino of the Tucson Citizen:
“Arizona’s big question this season was quarterback. It took four games, but the Wildcats seemed to have figured it out, unless sophomore Nick Foles’ first start (25 of 34 for 254 yards with three TDs and no interceptions) was a mirage. He was eerily composed against Oregon State and showed he could make all the throws — delivering quick screens with great timing, showing zip across the middle and deftly lobbing fade passes down the sideline. It’s possible Matt Scott, who started the first three games and is a running threat, could have a small game package as a change-of-pace quarterback.
“Arizona is still developing a pure go-to guy in the passing game because Pac-10 career receptions leader Mike Thomas is now in the NFL and potential All-American tight end Rob Gronkowski is out for the season because of a back injury. Foles will spread the ball around. The Wildcats, who will show a mix of the spread and two-back formations, don’t mind running the ball. Starting running back Nic Grigsby isn’t 100 percent after suffering a shoulder injury against Oregon State, but he is expected to play and there isn’t much drop-off when UA goes to hard-running Keola Antolin or bigger back Greg Nwoko.
“The defense is a bit of a no-name outfit, with the emphasis on speed over size. Third-down conversions — an area of excellence for Washington so far — is crucial, because the Wildcats tend to play a bend-but-don’t-break style, allowing only one run of more than 20 yards and three pass plays of 25-plus yards. Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops says the Cats have made opponents “earn” their yards. The strength of the defense is the secondary. Emerging sophomore star cornerback Trevin Wade has four interceptions; senior cornerback Devin Ross was second-team All-Pac-10 last season; and senior free safety Cam Nelson is a savvy veteran.”