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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


3 ways to win and 3 ways to lose: Arizona vs Nevada

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat Arizona redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon during Arizona’s season opener against UNLV at Arizona Stadium on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. Arizona won 58-13 against UNLV. Anu Solomon broke the freshman passing yards record with 425 yards.

Three ways to win

Contain Cody

As the man behind the trigger of the pistol offense, Nevada senior quarterback Cody Fajardo is vital to its success.

If Fajardo is on target, it could be a long night for the Wildcats.

As a sophomore, Fajardo was 22-of-32 passing for 256 yards and rushed for 140 yards, scoring four touchdowns against Arizona.
Last week, Fajardo racked up 210 yards as the Wolf Pack upset Washington State. He is second in the Mountain West in total offense per game with an average of 290.5 yards.

If an Arizona offense that has improved dramatically from 2012 can shut down Fajardo, the Wildcats will likely pistol-whip the Wolf Pack.

Cash in

The Wildcats’ offense has almost been prolific this season. It’s just hurting in one area: the red zone.

Arizona is fifth in the country in total offense, with 620.5 yards per game, but is just 28th in scoring, with 42 points a game. That’s still an impressive scoring tally, but those two rankings should be closer.

Last week, Arizona got inside UTSA’s red zone four times but scored a touchdown once.

Nevada ranks fifth in the country in red zone defense, yielding scores three out of seven times and only one touchdown.

If the Wildcats can start cashing in that massive yardage it’s been collecting for points, they will be hard to beat.

Spread the wealth

Arizona freshman quarterback Anu Solomon doesn’t have any interceptions yet, but it seems like he’s throwing the ball to everyone else.

Solomon has five touchdown throws, all to different receivers and 10 different Wildcats. Arizona also has had two different running backs rush over 100 yards with freshman Nick Wilson doing it twice.

The more the Wildcats spread the wealth, the harder it is for defenses to stop them. Do you try to stop the pass? Do you try to stop the run?

This week, Nevada’s defensive coordinator has to be sleeping about as well as someone who works for public relations in the NFL.

Three ways to lose

Wild Wolf Pack

Nevada comes into this weekend’s matchup with Arizona averaging 435.5 total yards per game, 229.0 of which come from the ground and 206.5 come from the air.

While Nevada running back Don Jackson leads the team in rushing, quarterback Cody Fajardo leads the team in all-purpose yards. Fajardo averages 206.5 yards passing and 84.0 yards rushing for a total of 290.5 yards per game.

Fajardo’s ability to make plays with both his legs and arm make him the most dangerous offensive threat Nevada has and a big reason why its pistol offense has been so effective over the years.

Containing Fajardo has to be the number one key for Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez and company.

Overthrows are the devil

Anu Solomon has been remarkably protective of the ball so far this season, but his number of overthrows seems to be increasing. Not only can overthrows stall drives, but they can also turn into costly turnovers and missed opportunities.

The Wildcats were a paltry 4-15 on third down last week against UTSA, with overthrows harming the team in third and long situations.

Reining in the timing and accuracy from Solomon would do wonders for Arizona’s third down efficiency and lead to a more successful offense. Not doing so could lead to an unexpected upset in the desert.

Running backs run into wall

Arizona’s main running backs, Terris Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson, are largely untested and will go against a Nevada defense that ranks 30th in the nation in rushing defense.

Jones-Grigsby is battling an ankle injury and is officially listed as questionable for the 8 p.m. game start on Saturday. If he misses his second straight game, the burden will again fall on true freshman Wilson.

While Wilson has performed in record-breaking fashion during his first two collegiate games, he carried the ball 30 times last week in his first career start. In week one, Wilson carried the ball just seven times.

There’s bound to be some fatigue and recovery needed. For Arizona’s sake, that time needs to be shorter rather than longer.

—Follow James Kelley @jameskelley520 and Roberto Payne @HouseofPayne555

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