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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Defense has room for improvement

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets Stanford in an NCAA mens football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 17, 2009. Arizona went on to win 43-38.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Stanford in an NCAA men’s football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 17, 2009. Arizona went on to win 43-38.

Arizona’s win against Stanford provided the lift that the Wildcats desperately needed. The team battled for 60 minutes and the offense continued to flourish with sophomore quarterback Nick Foles.

Everything worked out for Arizona, but the defense can improve.

“”We obviously didn’t play as well as we were capable of defensively,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said in his weekly Monday press conference.

Arizona’s defense, which at the beginning of the season was touted as the team’s strongest asset, surrendered over 500 yards to the Cardinal on Saturday and has given up more than 27 points in each of the last four games.

“”There’s a lot of reasons that go into that,”” Stoops said of his defensive struggles. “”Stanford’s ability to run and throw it now make that a much more difficult tandem to defend, but still we should have had better coverage in some areas.””

“”I thought we broke down some assignments, some tactical errors on our part and some fundamental errors,”” he added. “”That’s usually the case each week, and certainly we need to address it and work it out.””

The secondary was caught out of place a few times which led to some long-passing touchdowns for Stanford, but Stoops believes it was the entire defense that was at fault.

“”In pass coverage, the secondary takes a lot of the abuse but pass coverage is 11 guys just like run defense is 11 guys,”” Stoops said. “”Our pressure has to be better, our underneath coverage has to be better, our second level, it all has to kind of tie together.””

Special teams making changes

For all the success he has had kicking field goals, Alex Zendejas has struggled mightily on kickoffs. The sophomore hasn’t found consistency kicking it inside the opponents 10-yard-line, instead often kicking it to the 20.

Enter sophomore John Bonano. A backup kicker, Bonano got the call midway through Saturday’s contest and answered in a big way by consistently kicking it deep into Cardinal territory.

“”I think Bonano did a great job,”” Stoops said. “”He has a stronger leg and he really placed the ball well, so hopefully we’re moving forward with our special teams.””

In addition to finding a full-time and reliable kickoff specialist, Stoops is also eager to welcome the return of William “”Bug”” Wright as punt returner.

“”Bug Wright will hopefully be back full-time as our punt returner,”” he said. “”That gets is a little different dimension at punt returner.””

Wright, the preseason starter at both slot receiver and punt returner, saw minimal action against Stanford in his first game since arthroscopic knee surgery.

BCS Ranking

For the first time since a 12-1 season in 1998, Arizona football is ranked in the BCS Rankings, coming in at No. 22.

“”That’s a positive thing,”” Stoops said. “”We take a lot of pride in that and hopefully use that as motivation.””

No. 7 USC and No. 11 Oregon are the only other Pacific 10 Conference schools featured in the first BCS-release of the year.

“”It shows a certain amount of respect for our schedule and the teams we play,”” Stoops said, referring to Arizona’s No. 3 strength of schedule ranking. “”We play pretty consistently but I still think we can play a lot better than we have. And I think we will.””

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