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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football notes: Tevis making slow recovery, team returning to run game

Larry+Hogan+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AArizona+vs+Oregon+State
Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona vs Oregon State

Safety Jared Tevis still isn’t 100 percent, but the standout sophomore was at least healthy enough to return to limited practice Tuesday night.

Tevis, one of Arizona’s best defenders, missed the last two games after suffering an injury early in the Wildcats’ 38-35 loss to Oregon State on Sept. 29.

“I think [Tevis] has gotten a little bit better,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I don’t know what his status will be for this weekend yet.”

The former walk-on had his right ankle completely taped and wore a green jersey to indicate no contact. Tevis’ participation in practice is decided first by the training staff, and once given permission, he can do what he can tolerate, Rodriguez said.

With an afternoon matchup against Heisman candidate Matt Barkley and No. 10 USC Saturday, the return of Tevis would be a huge boost for the secondary.

Despite missing slightly more than two games, Tevis is still fifth in total tackles with 42 and second in interceptions with two.

Vintage Rich Rod

Arizona gained 533 yards of total offense in its resounding 52-17 victory against Washington, but what came as more of a shock was the team’s return to the run game.

In the past, Rodriguez’s spread-option style of offense was dominated by the run, but so far this season the arm of quarterback Matt Scott has been leading the charge.

On Saturday, it finally looked like the vintage Rodriguez offense had gained more yards — on the ground, 277, then through the air at 256 — for the first time all season.

The Wildcats also had the most rushing attempts, 49, since the Sept. 15 South Carolina State game, and threw the fewest amount of passes all year, with 22.

“I still don’t think we’re running as well as we need to,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not as physical at times, blocking, as we need to be. But last week was probably the most physical that we had played up front for most of the season and that was a good small step. Not where we want to be, but it was better than we had been.”

Playing nearly perfect

USC’s record (5-1) and No. 10 ranking might not show it, but the Trojans have failed to live up to their preseason hype so far.

Coming into the year, USC was projected as a top-three team and a national title contender, but it lost to then-No. 21 Stanford, and the Trojans haven’t looked as dominant as their talent should make them.

“This is the same team — if you remember at the beginning — [that was] was [projected] as possibly playing for the national championship,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the Trojans are talented at every position, filled with four and five-star recruits. But if his team doesn’t go out and compete, he’ll be disappointed.

The Wildcats have played tough competition close this season, excluding the Oregon debacle, and Rodriguez said they don’t have to play perfectly Saturday to win, just close to it.

“I don’t think it’s so much having to play a perfect game, but we always strive for that,” he said. “And then as close as you get to that as possible, it helps, and then also maybe they make a few mistakes.”

In Arizona’s one win against a ranked opponent this season, then-No. 18 Oklahoma State committed a school-record 15 penalties for 167 yards and Arizona’s cornerback Jonathan McKnight returned an interception for a touchdown.

“I don’t want our guys thinking that [they have to be perfect],” Rodriguez said. “But I do want them to think they got to have a near-perfect week of practice as possible. And that’s been my emphasis right now.”

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