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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Wildcats get “edge” back following defeat of Oregon State

Rebecca Noble

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez gives quarterback Anu Soloman (12) instruction during Arizona’s 44-7 win over OSU in Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015.

Forgive Oregon State for coming out more than a little flat Saturday afternoon. Forgive the ZonaZoo for not filling the student section to its rims on an uncharacteristically hot October day. And forgive anyone who figured Arizona’s 2015 season was turning into a waste after back-to-back blowout losses to conference opponents.

Heading into Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff with Oregon State, Arizona hadn’t done much this season to gain respect from anyone, whether pundits, fans or opponents.

What came next was a three-and-a-half-hour beat down, meticulous and invigorating all at once.

A mostly healthy Anu Solomon completed 17 of 30 passes for 276 yards, a trio of running backs produced another 284 yards on the ground and a new talent emerged at linebacker.

The final result: a 44-7 defeat over an Oregon State program that had won six straight meetings in Tucson, dating back to 1998.

“There was talk about us getting a little bit of our edge back,” said Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez after the game. “We talk about hard edge all of the time, and that is our identity.”

Indeed, Arizona looked like a different team physically than in weeks past. The offensive line held the fort in the trenches—Solomon was sacked a total of one time—while the defense tackled better all around.

One hit in particular, a devastating blow from safety Will Parks to Oregon State receiver Jordan Villamin, set the tone.

Midway through the second quarter with Arizona up 20-7, Parks leveled his shoulder into Villamin’s chest, sending the rocked Beaver to the ground, where he remained for a few moments before leaving the field with the training staff.

From that point on, Oregon State’s receivers looked a bit more timid when running their routes.

It was a banner day for Arizona’s defense, a group that has taken numerous beatings of its own this season.

Oregon State mustered just 249 yards of offense and only 98 yards through the air.

“Whatever they did against the other teams, and we all know what the scores were and what have you, that was a good defense that we played against today,” said Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen. “They were much better than we were on offense.”

Headlining Arizona’s defensive performance was safety-turned-linebacker Paul Magloire, who received his first start as a Wildcat on Saturday.

A Junior College All-American out of Arizona Western, Magloire made the switch to weakside linebacker after the UA’s flurry of injuries at the position.

Listed at 6 feet 1 inch and 210 pounds, Magloire may be a little undersized for a linebacker, but he looked plenty comfortable there, recording a team-high nine tackles, two of which were for a loss.

“It was pretty similar,” Magloire said. “I think they threw the ball when I first came in. Just play ball and, most importantly, have fun.”

Given his debut performance at linebacker, Magloire will almost certainly continue to fill in during Scooby Wright III’s absence. And considering Wright was dressed in a white polo with a heavy boot on his right leg Saturday, linebacker may be Magloire’s role for the rest of the season.

Putting the next couple weeks aside, this was an outing the redshirt junior and the rest of the defense eagerly needed to get back on track.

Yes, Oregon State’s offense ranks last in the Pac-12 Conference in total offense, and sure, the Beavers are unaccustomed to playing in the Sonoran heat.

But for the first time all year, Arizona’s defense controlled the tempo from kickoff to kneel down.

“We did exactly what coach Rod told us to do: have fun,” Magloire said. “We were out there high-f­iving each other and not worrying about the other stuff.”

Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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