Another week, another huge game with the Pac-10 championship on the line. We caught up with Joe from Arizona Desert Swarm to see how Wildcat fans are feeling about the upcoming game. Our questions to their answers can be found here.
1. Oregon offense has been rolling in Pac-10 play, averaging just under 500 yards per game, and over 40 points. How will Arizona attempt to slow down the Ducks, and do they have a realistic shot at keeping the Ducks under 40?
Arizona's defense has been hit or miss all season. Our secondary is legit and our defensive ends are monsters. In order for the Cats to put together an entire game, the interior linemen and linebackers have to step up to the plate. The key to Arizona's gameplan is a solid pass rush from the outside and limiting passes to the middle of the field. Our corners rarely get beat and our safeties do a great job of defending the long ball down the middle. Our weakness all season has been the passing game over the middle and strong counter/iso plays on our linebackers. Depending on the flow of the game, I would expect Arizona to sit back in a zone and try to make Masoli beat them through the air if the game is tight. If it's getting out of hand (one way or another), we may try to bring some pressure.
2. Nick Foles has been a great surprise in the Pac-10. What is his skill set, and what makes him so efficient in the Arizona offense?
Foles possesses a HUGE arm and just enough mobility to buy that extra two seconds when he needs it. He is tall enough to sit in the pocket and makes good pre snap reads. His weakness comes in the long ball and the rushing ability. When he does scramble, he usually throws it even if he does have some real estate in front of him. Our receivers this year are incredible and Sonny Dykes knows how to run routes, creating an offense that allows Foles to key his reads on only a few pre snap looks.
3. The Oregon defense has been stellar all year, outside of the visit to Stanford. Do they Wildcats have the players to take advantage of Oregon's lack of size in the middle? Did the UA coaching staff take anything important from that film?
Arizona's offensive line is incredible but struggle at times with technique on run blocking but have consistently given Foles enough time to make his passes. Nic Grigsby will be another game time decision as he has been since late September. If we can put together ANY type of running game, it should open up Foles to start picking apart Oregon's defense. If no running game, Oregon should make Arizona one dimensional, kind of like Cal. We won't watch the Stanford film if you don't watch the Cal film?
4. Arizona's receiving corp seems to function a lot like Oregon's, with many different receivers sharing the load. Who should Oregon be most concerned with?
Juron Criner, Deleshaun Dean, and Terrell Turner are the burners. David Roberts and David Douglas are our possession guys. Good luck.
5. What is the confidence level of the team and fans after losing to Cal?
I actually think that after the Cal game the team didn't lose much confidence at all. Up until the batted pass/re-pass by Foles, everyone on that sideline, every Cal fan, and every U of A fan thought Arizona was going to win. Then it happened. Oh well. Stoops knows how to keep them in line and playing Oregon at home trying to make it 12 in a row in Tucson is enough for them to be very confident, even after losing to Cal.
6. Mike Stoops has been a butt of many jokes around the interwebs, but his teams have been steadily improving every year. What's been the key to this success over the past couple years.
Recruiting. Recruiting, and Sonny Dykes. Stoops is dialed into the Texas high schools from his days at OU and has cherry picked those looked over and looking to get out of the state. He knows how to run a program and has decided to embrace the Dykes style of offense while still looking for that defensive style that is his mark. Iowa (bad QB), Washington and Cal losses in the last minute of the game have Stoops only a couple wins away from 10 on the season. Ahhh. What ifs.