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Know Thy Enemy: Arizona Wildcats

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Who are these Wildcats from Tucson?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Arizona at USC Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2019 record: 4-5 (2-4)

Key Numbers + Info (2019 season)

OOC Opponents: Hawai’i, Northern Arizona, Texas Tech

Points per game: 32.89

Points allowed per game: 37.33

Avg. yards per rush: 5.0

Avg. yards per rush allowed: 4.8

Avg. rush yards per game: 196.0

Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 168.9

Rushing TDs: 18 for, 20 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 299.78

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 312.33

Avg per attempt: 8.25

Avg per attempt allowed: 7.85

Passing TDs: 21 for, 21 against

Collective Pass Completion Rate: 64%

Collective Pass Completion Rate Against: 64%

Leading Rusher: J.J Taylor (107 carries for 566 yards and five TDs)

Leading Receiver (receptions and touchdowns): Brian Casteel (34 receptions for 359 yards three TDs)

Leading Receiver (yards): Jamarye Joiner (24 receptions for 366 yards and three TDs)

Leading Tackler: Colin Schooler (72 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks)

Analytics

Credit to Zane Murffit of Cougcenter.com for doing the Sports Source Analytics charts weekly. They are an immense help. Here’s a glossary to help you translate the numbers.

Win probability

credit: Florida Cup and /u/rcfbuser

As you can see in the image above, Arizona has a win probability of 8% against Oregon. Also the link, is the explanation behind the formula of the win probability for all teams. Oregon’s win probability chart as seen below for comparison.

Oregon’s odds of running the table undefeated has massively increased from a 33.1% chance prior to USC to a huge 59.1%.

Arizona Offense vs Oregon Defense

Arizona’s offense is well below USC’s but still an interesting team that Oregon will have faced based on success rate. The Wildcats rank within the top 25 nationally in terms of run success rate. They are a clearly expected run first team based on the analytics. They are ranked within the top 25 in yards per pass. Arizona is a well balanced team with the rushing attack ranking within the top 20 in yards per carry.

Oregon improved their ranking in yards per play allowed from 15th to 12th in the nation. The Ducks also improved to ninth after being ranked 15th before USC in yards per attempt. Arizona has converted 47.55% of its third downs but Oregon saw an increase in conversions to the tune of 35% allowed on defense. The run game will be match-up of strength on strength.

Arizona is significantly better than USC in generating the explosive play while Oregon improved to 20th from 35th place two weeks prior. Oregon still remains a top three unit in red zone defense but the Wildcats have a much better red zone offense than the Trojans did.

Where the Ducks can stop Zona is on havoc rate as the Wildcats are slightly above average in FBS. The stuff rate for the Ducks’ defense got worse after USC, falling to 66th from 55th. Arizona is a lot better in stuff rate offensively.

Safe to say that the Ducks’ front seven will have its work cut out for them facing two different quarterbacks with very different skill sets plus one of the best running backs in conference.

Arizona is a lot better than the Trojans in terms of explosion plays ranking better than above average in both the pass and run game as the counting stats bear out.

Defensively, Oregon improved in big strides, going from 49th to 24th in stopping the explosive pass play. The linebackers will be put to the test against the scrambling ability of Khalil Tate, Grant Gunnell, and the standout running back J.J. Taylor.

Arizona will provide an improved test for the Ducks defense inside the 40 as they rank 15th in such opportunities. The Ducks improved from having the fourth ranked defense back to third.

As you can see, first down will be a weakness on weakness match-up (44% to 43% allowed) as both teams rank near the bottom of the Power 5. Second down will be a battle between a top fifty offense against a top ten defense. Arizona has a third down success rate of 48% while Oregon stops teams on 35% of those.

Oregon Offense vs Arizona Defense

Oregon’s rushing offense should have a huge day against a porous Wildcats run defense that ranks near last in defending the run success rate. The run game success rate improved four places from the week prior against USC. It will be interesting to see how the pass game fares against a massively significant worse pass defense than the one USC presented.

Oregon’s offense is averaging 6.45 yards per play while Arizona’s defense is averaging 6.42 yards per play given up. The Wildcats run defense is a glaring issue as they have allowed 5.1 yards per carry while the Ducks go for nearly 5.5 per rush.

Where they can aimlessly to stop the Ducks is on third down. Oregon is 24th in the country converting 45.6% while Arizona allows a ghastly 46.03%, also ranking 108th.

The Ducks need to focus on the pass game as Arizona is horrifically vulnerable at giving it up.

Arizona will provide a much worse test for Justin Herbert in terms of explosive passing plays compared to last week. Significantly so. Arizona is the 100th ranked defense in this category.

Again, where they can be had is in the run game as the rushing explosive rate is just as catastrophically terrifyingly bad as the pass defense.

Arizona is just bad inside their 40. Allowing a massive 59%% of those drives to end in touchdowns while the Ducks improved from 21st from the game prior to 14th this week (66%)

If you look at this chart, the game clearly will be decided on an every down basis as Oregon’s offensive chances are dominating over the Wildcats’ horrific defensive numbers. Simply put, it’s a terrible time for Arizona on defense.

Oregon

Pass down success rate: 37%

Standard down success rate: 51%

Arizona

Pass down success rate: 31%

Standard down success rate: 51%

Oregon

TD inside 40 rate: 66%

Success rate: 47%

Arizona

TD inside 40 rate: 66%

Success rate: 45%

Key players to watch

1. J.J. Taylor 5’6 170 RS Junior Arizona

  • He’s an electric jitterbug in the form of smaller Darren Sproles and flashes some Maurice Jones-Drew as seen in the clip below. He’ll have a role at the next level if he gains some weight to his frame.

2. Colin Schooler 6’1 229 LB Junior

  • The brother of former Oregon receiver Brenden is the Wildcats’ leader in tackles again. He’s a not NFL level prospect but is close.

Keys to an Oregon Win

  • Offensive line. The Wildcats defense is ripe for the picking based on the tape and analytics. Can the Ducks take advantage with their powerful offensive line? Will Dallas Warmack return and continue the right guard merry go round? The OL should blow open holes that you or I could run through against a porous Arizona defense.
  • Defense. Which QB will they face the more of? Tate is certainly the more athletic but not developed as a passer compared to Gunnell. Either way, a QB spy might be deployed to offset their scrambling abilities. Andy Avalos will need to focus on assignment sound defensive fundamentals. A true freshman quarterback must be harried into mistakes.
  • Mental Toughness. The 2019 version of the Ducks has shown a resiliency like no other Ducks squads before it within the past several years. Can they keep their eye on the prize waiting for them in December and beat an Arizona team that whipped them last season? They survived (barely) in their first #Pac12AfterDark scenario, can they do it again?

Keys to an Oregon Loss

  • Tackling. It’s been not ideal to say the least lately. The one downside of playing assignment football is that it requires focus on tackling. It hasn’t been great but improved against USC. Can the Ducks wrap up and bring down one of the most dynamic runners in the conference?
  • Marcus Arroyo. He has continued to call a near perfect game, it’s just that the players didn’t execute at times. Can Arroyo keep improving while dialing it back for a putrid Arizona defense after having faced off the potential score for score situation against USC? Arizona’s defense is among the worst in all of FBS so there are plenty of scoring chances to be had. Can he take advantage with a powerful OL and run game that’s improving on a weekly basis?
  • Herbert. He has improved a lot since that Washington game where he was a bit shaky. Can he keep up his improvement as a passer against an admittedly terrible defense this weekend?

What are the odds?

(all odds courtesy of vegsainsider.com)

The WestGate Superbook has Oregon as 27.5 point favorites. The O/U is 68. The money line is Oregon -5000 Arizona +1500

William Hill has Oregon as 27.5 point favorites. O/U is set at 68.5. The money line is Oregon -3500 Arizona +1400

DraftKings has Oregon as 27.5 point favorites. O/U is set at 68.5. Money line is Oregon -5000 Arizona +1400

*speeding bus nor Sandra Bullock or even Walter White required to know these cats. Calm down, PDX, I didn’t mention any cougars this time!