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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona football needs run; Gronkowski’s return helps

    Arizona sophomore running back Nic Grigsby carries the ball in Arizonas 36-28 loss to New Mexico Saturday at University Stadium in Albuquerque. Though the Wildcats run the spread offense, the running game is a very integral part of Arizonas success.
    Arizona sophomore running back Nic Grigsby carries the ball in Arizona’s 36-28 loss to New Mexico Saturday at University Stadium in Albuquerque. Though the Wildcats run the spread offense, the running game is a very integral part of Arizona’s success.

    When the Arizona football team took on New Mexico last weekend, it found itself in a bit of a quagmire. It was one the Wildcats eventually couldn’t overcome.

    The common misconception when it comes to Arizona’s offense is that the Wildcats don’t need a solid run game. Nothing could be further from the truth, and when the Wildcats ran into New Mexico’s unique defense, which continually excels against opposing rushing attacks, the run game sputtered.

    So did Arizona en route to a 36-28 loss to New Mexico.

    “”You want to dictate in these systems when you want to throw,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. “”We don’t want to get into a contest where we feel like we need to throw it 50 times a game. That is not what this offense is built around. It’s to try and have balance if we can create balance.””

    The Wildcats had a hard time finding that unique balance that is essential to any effective passing attack against a New Mexico defense that allowed 122 rushing yards a game last season, which was good enough for 26th in the nation.

    The New Mexico defense, which has become known for its unorthodox blitzing schemes and its fondness for moving players around in different positions constantly, had the Wildcat offense fooled.

    Not knowing whether the Lobos were going to send the house or drop eight players back into coverage, it was a guessing game for Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes in terms of when to call running plays.

    “”That’s a hard defense to call runs against because you just don’t know when you are going to get drop eight or eight people blitzing, so it is kind of a hit or miss,”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes of New Mexico. “”Nobody really runs the ball against them because you just don’t know what you are going to get. Obviously we have to do better this week and I think we will.””

    Instead, quarterback Willie Tuitama threw the ball 50 times – the exact thing Stoops said he would like to avoid.

    Meanwhile, the Wildcats managed only 67 total rushing yards, backed by sophomore running back Nic Grigsby, who had 72 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

    In his second year calling plays, Dykes said he was committed to building a solid rushing attack against UCLA this weekend.

    “”What it does is take a lot of pressure off of your quarterback when you can run the ball and are effective doing it and are committed to doing it,”” Dykes said. “”We need to do a better job of committing to do it and finding more creative ways to run the football.””

    Moving forward, the Wildcats may be in better shape in terms of opening up the passing game from the run with the return of sophomore tight end Rob Gronkowski to the lineup. Gronkowski missed the first three games after being diagnosed with strep throat, though there has been some suspicion of mononucleosis, but Stoops has labeled him as probable for Saturday’s game against UCLA.

    With a weapon like Gronkowski back, it gives the Wildcats a boost in both the passing and rushing game because he is a good receiver and an equally impressive blocker.

    While spreads like the ones used by Brigham Young and Texas Tech varyfrom Arizona in some form, the Wildcats have shown they are committed to using a tight end to open up the offense in an array of different ways.

    “”With our offense we are probably a little different from maybe (Texas) Tech and BYU. There is a lot of similarities, but we are a little different because we play with a tight end,”” Stoops said. “”Now that Robby is back we will obviously have a tight end influenced team, and that’s where we can create run game that some teams can’t.

    “”Any time you have a prototypical tight end with the things Robby can do, we want to have that as part of our package,”” Stoops added. “”That’s where we kind of built this offense around – a prototypical tight end that can run, block and catch.””

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