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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football brings element of surprise into first game

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Kevin Brost
Kevin Brost / Arizon Daily Wildcat The UA football team enter Arizona Stadium to play NAU last season.

The installation of Rich Rodriguez’s spread option offense and 3-3-5 defense has been well-covered since he was hired in November. Toledo, with a new head coach itself, doesn’t have any game film of Rodriguez with the UA. So when Arizona takes on Toledo on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium, it should have the element of surprise in its favor.

“We have a lot of things to mix it up and keep the defense honest,” senior quarterback Matt Scott said. “They have to defend one area; we’re going to attack another. It’s going to be tough for them and good for us.”

The last time Toledo and Arizona played, in 2010, the Wildcats handily defeated the Rockets 41-2. Scott, backing up Nick Foles at the time, even got in on the action as he completed 5 out of 7 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.

Campbell and the Rockets’ players have been preparing for Arizona by studying film of the UA’s 4-8 season in 2011 in order to get familiar with individual players, rather than watching game film from Rodriguez’s tenure at West Virginia or Michigan.

“Its hard,” Campbell said in a phone interview with the Daily Wildcat. “For us, I think it’s more about us and making sure we prepare ourselves for what we can do best. Make sure that when we land in Arizona, when our kids come to play, that we do what we do really well and try to adjust for the game from there.”

Rodriguez, upon arriving in Tucson, made it a point to hire a lot of the people who have coached alongside him during his 10-year college-coaching career, including defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, who brought with him his 3-3-5 “odd-stack” defensive scheme.

“I think one of the things we know is just the type of coaching staff they’ve had,” Campbell said. “They’ve got great coaches who have done a great job everywhere they’ve been of not only being successful offensively, defensively and special teams but they’ve also done a great job of playing to their players abilities.”

Rodriguez is all too familiar with what Toledo is capable of. During his first year at Michigan, Toledo upset the Wolverines 13-10 in Ann Arbor, Mich. “They’re a very dangerous team and they’re going to come with a lot of confidence,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve probably said this enough times: We are not good enough to play poorly and win any games. We have to play well and play hard.”

After eight months of installing schemes and conditioning, the Rich Rodriguez era at Arizona is just one day away from commencing. Fans shouldn’t be surprised at the pace of the offense and the number of plays, but for the Wildcats, offensive surprises are part of what Rodriguez has done to change the perception of Arizona football.

“People have counted us out, but that’s cool,” senior receiver Dan Buckner said. “When no one’s looking at you, that’s when you can come up and hit them in the side and knock them. We’re just grinding every day in the shadows. When we go out, we’re going to give it our best effort to keep the town of Tucson happy, make this school happy and change the culture.”

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