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Know Thy Enemy: Arizona Wildcats

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Oregon v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

2018 Record: 3-5 (2-3)

Key Numbers + Info (2018 season)

OOC Opponents: Brigham Young, Houston, Southern Utah

Points per game: 27.75

Points allowed per game: 29.00

Avg. yards per rush: 5.0

Avg. yards per rush allowed: 4.4

Avg. rush yards per game: 196.5

Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 195.9

Rushing TDs: 11 for, 17 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 242.25

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 244.75

Passing TDs: 14 for, 14 against

Collective Pass Completion Rate: 53%

Collective Pass Completion Rate Against: 64%

Leading Rusher: J.J Taylor (137 carries for 817 yards and 4 TDs)

Leading Receiver: Shawn Poindexter (30 receptions for 552 yards and 4 TDs)

Leading Tackler: Colin Schooler (81 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss)

Leader in Sacks: P.J Johnson (3.0)

Analysis

  • In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Arizona sports a 54 to 46 run to pass ratio. Their opponents clock in at 57 to 43 run to pass. The opposition has run 617 plays to Arizona’s 575 so the disparity is about one half’s worth of plays in a typical game.
  • The Wildcats have been outgained by their opponents by a slim 3,525 to 3,510 margin in yards.
  • Arizona’s highest point total was 62 against hapless Southern Utah while the lowest was 18 in a blowout loss to Houston.

Key prospect to watch

1. J.J Taylor 5’6 180 RS Sophomore RB

- Taylor is having an interesting season as he is the second leading rusher in the conference with 817 yards and 4 touchdowns. His size will be a question throughout the process should he choose to declare. Could be a specialist at the next level. Similar build to long time NFL veteran RB / Special Teams ace Darren Sproles.

Keys to an Oregon win

  • Run game. In three of the five losses, Arizona was dominated in the run game by a significant margin. Most jarringly by Utah in which they gave up a massive 230 yards while only rushing for 72 themselves. I wholly expect the Ducks to copy the formula by relying on its sometimes punishing ground game to wear out the Wildcats’ defense. A bunch of Verdell, Dye, and the artist formerly known as TBJ will have to tote the rock. Possibly CHL might get in the action as he hasn’t seen a carry in several games. Locating their star linebacker Colin Schooler will help on every snap as he’s Ben Burr-Kiven lite aka a tackling machine.
  • Pass rush. Regardless of which QB plays, the Ducks’ pass rush has to show up in this one to show further proof that the Wildcats’ pass offense is in shambles. Opponents have more yards and have completed a higher percentage. After last week’s utter no show by the defensive front, the Ducks’ front seven needs to wake up. Fat Mac needs to watch the Houston tape on an endless loop to see what kind of impact Ed Oliver had (not saying Fat Mac is even on the same planet to that kind of talent level but a close approximation will do). An overthinking and overtaxed Khalil Tate is just as good as a immobile Rhett Rodriguez.
  • Physicality. Oregon should have the advantage in this department as Arizona is trying to recover their strength from the last vestiges of the RichRod regime. The OL should be able to lean on their front seven. Arizona has several sophomores that got significant playing time as freshmen but it’s a whole new defensive staff. Oregon needs to take advantage of the continuity issues.

Keys to an Oregon loss

  • Mental fortitude. The Ducks have shown very little willingness to grind things out mentally when the action starts to get hot thus far. It seems like the moment is too big for them at times and they freeze. Mario Cristobal needs to get all the help he needs to toughen this team up. Last week was a perfect example. I’m afraid that this week could be a similar case with the game being in Tucson (where the Ducks’ history isn’t the best) and a #Pac12AfterDark game. It’s going to get weird at times and I’m hoping the coaching staff finds something (anything) to get the players to wake up for more than a quarter.
  • Scheme. Last week was a perfect example of what not to do as a play caller, Jim Leavitt. It took him an entire half to adjust to Washington State’s quick strike passing game. By then, the game was all but over. Arizona may be limited in what they as a passing offense but they do have three weapons that are dynamic athletes. J.J. Taylor is the second leading rusher in the conference while WR Shun Brown is an electric athlete with the ball in his hands. Tackling will need some work. Offensively, it’s mystifying that Marcus Arroyo continues to call plays that don’t work and he is stubborn about it. The offense is the literal example of the three true outcomes in baseball. Only this time, it’s outside run, inside run, or a long pass attempt. Some adjustments would be ideal like slants, screens, corners, outs, etc.
  • Inconsistency. Particularly, the receivers and secondary. Somebody other than Dillon Mitchell and sometimes Jaylon Redd has to step up and help out Justin Herbert. The tight ends have been serviceable so far given their injury issues. The secondary has been the epitome of Jekyll and Hyde outside of Ugo Amadi. Not much can be done in 2018 except for having the kids grow up and develop faster. It seems like a weekly thing where we just don’t know which unit will play well.

What are the odds?

The WestGate Superbook has Oregon as 9.5 point favorites. O/U is set at 65. The money line is Oregon -380 Arizona +290

William Hill has Oregon as 9.5 point favorites. O/U is set at 65. The money line is Oregon -380 Arizona +310

MyBookie.ag (who was nice enough to sponsor the awesome Quack 12 podcast, see, I do listen to the pod) has Oregon as 9 point favorites. O/U is set at 65. The money line is Oregon -340 Arizona +274