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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football readies for explosive Cougars

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat During the first half of Arizona’s 28-26 loss to USC at Arizona Stadium on October 11th.

After playing against USC’s more pro-style offense in its last game, Arizona football is back to playing against a spread. On Saturday, the No. 15 Wildcats (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12 Conference) travel to Washington State to face the Cougars’ pass-happy Air Raid offense.

Washington State is first in the nation in passing yards with 490 per game, while Arizona is seventh with 357.5. Arizona is 36th in nation rushing offense, while the Cougars are 124th, second to last.

“Whereas they’ll throw the ball, throw the ball to set up the run, we’ll run the ball, run the ball, to maybe set up a throw,” UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “But as we’ve showed, we’ve thrown it 70 times a game; I’m not sure they’ve run it 70 times in a game,”

WSU quarterback senior Connor Halliday is first in the country in passing yards with 3,344. UA redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon is ninth with 2,136 passing yards.Halliday broke the Football Bowl Subdivision single-game passing record with 734 yards against California earlier this season.“Anytime we face a passing school, it’s exciting to have those opportunities to get picks,” UA senior safety Jared Tevis said. “I look at everything as an opportunity, so with a team that throws that much, it’s an opportunity for us to make plays and get interceptions.”

While Arizona has usually been a run-first team under Rodriguez, Solomon has attempted 206 passes this year. Rodriguez said he has done a good job of taking what the defense gives him.

“We’re not really counting [his attempts], and we try to achieve balance, but we don’t want to force balance,” Rodriguez said.

Running Backs

Rodriguez said he doesn’t know yet about the statuses of senior running back Terris Jones-Grigsby, who left the USC game early, and freshman running back Nick Wilson, who missed it.

In their stead, third-string junior running back Jared Baker ran for 43 yards on 12 carries, caught four passes for 50 yards and scored three touchdowns against USC.

“I think you have to be deep at tailback, particularly the way our schedule is going to be set up the next six weeks,” Rodriguez said.After their second and final bye week, the Wildcats will now play six games in a row to close out the regular season.

Home-Field Disadvantage

It’s been a wild year for the Pac-12, including the apparent home-field disadvantage teams have. Road teams are 16-7 in Pac-12 games.

“I wouldn’t say it’s easier; it’s still tough to win on the road, but it’s definitely doable,” Tevis said. “You can tell just this year, if you come in with the right mindset, it’s definitely doable.”

Rodriguez said better quarterbacks lead to more road wins.

“It used to be home-field advantage was a big deal, and it’s still a advantage in some respects, but with the quality of play of quarterbacks in college football now, a so called ‘upset’ is no longer prevented,” Rodriguez said.

Celebrity picker declines to pick

ESPN College GameDay’s guest pickers usually makes waves, and MLB legend Ken Griffey Jr. was no different.

Griffey Jr., the father of UA sophomore receiver Trey Griffey and UA women’s basketball playerTaryn Griffey, declined to pick the ASU and Stanford game.

“I wish they’d both lose,” Griffey Jr. said.

Griffey Jr. said he did not want to pick another Pac-12 team with his Arizona ties so strong.

“That’s his decision, but he’s big on Arizona right now, me being here, my sister being here, so he’s all about Arizona,” Trey Griffey said.

Hollywood Nights

Another game, another night kickoff for the Wildcats.

On Monday, the Pac-12 announced that Arizona’s match-up at UCLA next week will be at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

That is Arizona’s seventh night game. This week’s game at Washington State is the first afternoon game, kicking off at 3 p.m.on the Pac-12 Networks.

Game times for the Colorado, Washington and Utah games have yet to be announced. The Black Friday game against ASU will start at 1:30 p.m.


Follow James Kelley on Twitter. 

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