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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Balance finally arrived against Huskies

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The No. 15 Arizona Wildcats hosted the Washington Huskies in a Pacific 1o Conference matchup Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010 at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rolled to a 44-14 behind backup quarterback Matt Scott.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 15 Arizona Wildcats hosted the Washington Huskies in a Pacific 1o Conference matchup Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010 at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rolled to a 44-14 behind backup quarterback Matt Scott.

A balanced offensive attack has been an ideal that head coach Mike Stoops and his team have strived to achieve all season. Due to inconsistencies with the offensive line along with the Nick Foles-led aerial attack, that balance never came to fruition — until Saturday against Washington.

“”To see that type of balance, I thought was critical for our success long-term throughout the year,”” Stoops said Monday. “”To start to get some more balance in the run game takes some pressure off our offensive line and it just takes pressure off the quarterback as well.””

The Wildcats ran for more yards against the Huskies than they had all season, racking up 234 on the ground thanks to Keola Antolin (114), Matt Scott (65) and Nic Grigsby (50).

Arizona also poured in four rushing touchdowns, while Scott threw for one less yard (233) than the Wildcats gained on the ground — the first time all season that Arizona ran for more yards than they threw for.

The most impressive stat was the pass-to-run ratio of 22 to 43. Through six games Arizona threw the ball 38 times per game — tops in the conference — while running it 30 times a game.  

The insertion of a running quarterback along with Washington’s rush defense that ranks ninth in the Pac-10 definitely contributed to the success, but it was the offensive line that finally opened up the holes.  

“”We challenged our offensive line to be a more physical unit, to protect the quarterback better,”” Stoops said after the game. “”We were hard on those guys this week and they responded in a very positive way.””

Senior tackle Adam Grant said the offensive line had their “”asses ripped,”” after allowing six sacks against Washington State a week prior. But the O-line responded in a big way, leaving Stoops confident in Arizona’s prospects heading forward.  

“”If we can get that type of offensive line play I think that bodes well for our success offensively. That’s when we’re playing our best,”” Stoops said Monday. “”Hopefully that’s to come and maybe we’re hitting our stride now.””

The holes were bigger and the trio of Antolin, Scott and Grigsby took advantage, combining for Arizona’s second game with over 200 yards on the ground.

The offensive line has been the Wildcats’ biggest strength over the past few seasons, but due to injuries and inconsistency they simply couldn’t get it together this season.

But with Scott under center and a more concerted effort to run, the offensive line stepped up to that challenge and paved the way.

“”We just felt that we weren’t playing up to our potential,”” said center Colin Baxter. “”Playing like we did tonight is how we expect to play every week, it doesn’t matter the opponent.””

Not only did the O-line create running lanes, they also gave a quarterback making his first start in 16 games enough time to sit back in the pocket and make his reads.

Scott has struggled going through all of his progression in the past, but thanks to his maturity and the work of the offensive line he was able to stand in and prove his passing prowess.

“”I was feeling real good. I had time to go through every one of my reads actually while the O-line was on their blocks,”” Scott said. “”They did a great job.””

If and when Foles gets back under center Arizona will once again become a pass-happy squad. The Wildcats still rank first in the conference in pass offense with 298 yards per game, while ranking eighth in rush offense with only 136.9 yards per game.

But while Scott is under center and the offensive line is clicking, Arizona is a balanced team that has to be accounted for through the air and on the ground.

“”That’s encouraging to see,”” Stoops said. “”That makes us a much more diversified team.””

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