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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Offensive and defensive lines difference makers in win

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

In a matchup of ranked teams, No. 24 Arizona took on the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. A stout defense and pesky special teams helped the Wildcats to a 34-27 upset victory.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat In a matchup of ranked teams, No. 24 Arizona took on the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. A stout defense and pesky special teams helped the Wildcats to a 34-27 upset victory.

With Iowa’s highly praised running attack along with the Hawkeyes’ NFL-caliber defensive line, it was clear the game would be won up front.

Most thought that victory would go to the Hawkeyes, but the Arizona offensive line did a tremendous job protecting quarterback Nick Foles, while the defensive line held Iowa to 29 yards on 26 carries and sacked Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi six times.

“”Our front four really blocked well. I thought that was the difference in the game,”” Stoops said. “”Couldn’t be more proud of our offensive line. They played a great game. We knew that was going to be the difference, in getting Nick (Foles) some time to throw the ball.””

The Wildcats figured to run into problems against projected top-5 draft pick and defensive end Adrian Clayborn. But senior offensive linemen Adam Grant took Clayborn completely out of the game. Iowa’s top defensive player totaled only three tackles, none for a loss and zero sacks.

“”I’ll tell you what, Clayborn’s a big, strong guy,”” Grant said. “”He actually got me a few times and I like to think that I got him a few times.

“”Coach Bill (Bedenbaugh) puts high expectations on the whole offensive line. As far as I can see we came out and did our job.””

As for the defensive line, Arizona took Iowa completely out of its game plan with the big plays early on and never allowed the Hawkeyes to establish a ground game.

“”I think the front seven, we filled all the seams when we had seams open with the linebackers and the safeties. So, very pleased,”” said co-defensive coordinator Tim Kish. “”We really kind of made them one-dimensional. Give us credit for stopping the run early in the game.””

Douglas to the rescue

When Juron Criner went down with a toe injury, Foles was without his go-to receiver. Foles then turned to David Douglas, the starting outside receiver opposite of Criner — and Foles’ roommate.

“”I have all the confidence in the world (in Douglas) and I know what he’s capable of doing,”” Foles said.

Douglas finished the night with seven catches for 74 yards and a score and seemed to make big first down catches whenever the Wildcats needed a play.

“”I’m confident in all of our receivers, but everyone knows (Douglas) is my roommate and I know him real well and know he’s going to make plays,”” Foles said. “”He better, because we’ve got to go home after.””

Big plays set the tone

Arizona’s statement game was a contest full of big plays made by bigtime players. Although the game came down to one final drive, Arizona truly won the game in the first quarter, as it jumped ahead to a 14-0 lead despite having run only eight offensive plays to Iowa’s 25.

Wide receiver David Roberts set the tone, blocking a punt on Iowa’s first series of the game, which set up a Foles touchdown pass to Douglas. On Iowa’s very next series cornerback Trevin Wade picked off Stanzi and took it 85 yards for the score.

Then add in an electric 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by receiver Travis Cobb, and the Wildcats needed very little from Foles and the offense until it mattered most.

It was game-changing plays like those that gave Arizona a ton of momentum moving forward and allowed them enough cushion to fend off Iowa’s late-game surge.

Impact game

Arizona had lost seven straight games to Big Ten Conference teams. The last time the Wildcats won against a Big Ten Conference team was in 1998 when they hosted Iowa in Tucson.

Iowa hasn’t won a game west the Rocky Mountains since 1987. The Hawkeyes are now 0-7 since then.

Saturday’s Iowa-Arizona showdown was the only matchup between two ranked teams over the weekend. With the win, Arizona takes a 7-6 lead in the all-time series between the two schools.

Iowa won 17 of its last 19 games prior to being defeated by the Wildcats.

Arizona has not started the season 3-0 — perfect going into Pac-10 Conference season — since 2001 when it defeated San Diego State University, Idaho and University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

In 2010, Stanford and Oregon are the other Pac-10 schools that are still perfect on the season. Arizona will take on California next weekend for the third home game in a row.

First possession differences

Normally, beginning the game on offense is a good sign for the Hawkeyes. Iowa has started on offense in 116 of its last 133 games. The Hawkeyes, however, did not score on its first possession for the first time in three games this season. Iowa’s defense has held opponents to zero points on their opening drive 26 of the last 28 games. Arizona, however, took advantage of great field position as a result of a blocked punt that set up the Wildcats inside the red zone. Foles hit receiver Douglas for a score before three minutes had ticked off the clock.

Switching roles

The Hawkeyes defensive line had been hailed as one of the best in college football prior to Saturday’s game. Clayborn had been considered the best at his position in college football, similar to Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in last year’s Holiday Bowl. But unlike the Holiday Bowl, it was Arizona’s defensive line that stole the show.

The Wildcats had 10.5 tackles for a loss, with a total 53 yards lost. The defense also had six sacks for 44 yards, including four in a row, to end Iowa’s threat to score late in the fourth quarter. Arizona is now tied for sixth in the nation with 11 sacks on the season, averaging 3.67 per game.  

Wade a scoring machine against Iowa

For the second year in a row, Wade had a pick-six off of Stanzi, which he returned for an 85-yard score. The interception was Stanzi’s first of the year.

While the interception return for a touchdown is normally an indication of trouble for an offense, Iowa went 4-0 last season in games that Stanzi threw a pick-six. Iowa won the most amount of games that involved a pick-six in 2009 and the Hawkeyes are the only team since at least 2004 to survive interceptions returned for a touchdown in four separate games in a single season.  

Plays like Wade’s are helping Arizona climb the defensive scoring charts. The Wildcats currently rank in seventh place among FBS schools with an average of 11.67 points per game and 35 points over all.

The refs were busy

Despite its success, Arizona had 12 penalties for 103 yards. That ties Arizona’s record with the most penalties called against the Wildcats since 2005 during a 31-24 loss to Purdue.

Injury report

Although Arizona’s victory was monumental, they did pick up a pair of injuries along the way. Criner was forced out of the game late in the second quarter, and fullback Taimi Tutogi had to leave the game in the first.

Neither were able to return, but the injuries aren’t thought to be serious.

“”He had a turf toe tonight, so I don’t know,”” Stoops said of Criner, while there was no update on Tutogi.

 

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