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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Utah’s savvy defense a challenge for Arizona

Doug Duran
University of California’s Isi Sofele (20) jumps over University of Utah’s Nick Marsh, left, and Chandler Johnson (17) in the fourth quarter at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, on Saturday, October 22, 2011. Cal went on to win, 34-10. (Doug Duran/Contra Costa Times/MCT)

One of the biggest problems facing the Arizona football team all year has been its one-dimensional offense.

Nick Foles can throw the ball, and the Wildcats are ranked third in the nation in passing yards.

But on the other side of the coin, the Wildcats’ inconsistent run game was held to a meager 36 yards last weekend against Washington, and that issue isn’t likely to be resolved this homecoming weekend when the Wildcats take on Pac-12 conference newbies, the Utah Utes, in Tucson on Saturday.

Utah’s dynamic rush defense has allowed only 91 yards per game, good enough for second in the conference and 11th in the nation.

“Defensively, they’re damn good,” Arizona interim head coach Tim Kish said in a Monday press conference. “They’re good upfront, they stack the box a lot, and they play a lot of man coverage.”

To compliment their run-stopping abilities, the Utes are leading the conference in total defense and will attempt to keep the Arizona passing game in check as well.

Arizona offensive coordinator Seth Littrell echoed a lot of Kish’s concerns and said how hard his offense will need work in practice this week.

“They’re one of the top two defenses we’ve played all year,” Littrell said. “They’re extremely physical up front, the secondary will try to man you out and beat your receivers up.”

With the tenacity that the Utah defense brings, the Wildcats will need to move the ball consistently. Littrell remains confident in his players.

“I’m excited for this challenge. I know our guys are excited for this challenge,” he said. “It’s not going to be one of those easy football games where we run up and down the field. I can tell you that.”

The Wildcats have shown flashes of brilliance on the ground the past few games.

Against UCLA, Arizona piled on 254 rushing yards on top of the Bruins feeble defense, and the Wildcats will need to find some of that success against a much better Utah defense.

Freshman running back Ka’Deem Carey has been a major contributor toward the Arizona offense throughout the year and is starting to show his competency as a receiver after grabbing two receptions for 63 yards against Washington.

Carey will see some solid minutes on Saturday and is very aware of what Utah will bring to the table.

“They’re big up front, they’re fast. They like to play through the ball,” Carey said. “I feel like if we get hats on hats, some seams should open up, our passing game, of course, should be there, and we just have to go out and play against their defense.”

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