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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Game Breakdown

The Citadel

Two key players:

Cortez Allen, CB

The senior defensive leader for The Citadel made a statement early in its season opener. He returned an interception for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the Bulldogs’ 56-14 win over Chowan University and has the potential to impact big plays. He finished second on The Citadel’s roster in tackles in 2009 and was named co-captain the same year. Arizona’s receivers will challenge the Southern all-conference cornerback, especially with the chemistry between Arizona quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Juron Criner.

Matt Thompson, QB

The freshman quarterback for The Citadel threw three touchdowns, half of his game total throws, in the Bulldogs’ opener. While he is still a freshman, Thompson is at the helm of the triple-option defense that can turn a short gain into a big play with just one slip of a linebacker. His poise under the pressure and noise of playing at a stadium that has more than double the capacity of The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium will be the key to how effective the Bulldogs’ offense will be.

 

Two keys to the game:

Make the defense miss

Arizona is hardly experienced in defending the triple-option style offense, mainly due to the fact that so few schools actually implement the style of attack. In fact, co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown said he hadn’t been on a team that ran the triple-option since the early 1990s. With the young Wildcat defense still coming together as a unit, a lack of familiarity could be the Bulldogs’ key in their quest to upset the Wildcats in their first-ever visit to Arizona Stadium.

Keep your options open

The Citadel quarterback Matt Thompson only attempted six passes in the Bulldogs’ season opener. Although Arizona’s defense looked primed against Toledo last week, the triple-option threat could be just what The Citadel needs to get the offense off the ground. The limited number of passes didn’t mean a limited number of touchdowns, though. Thompson recorded three passing touchdowns in the game. The play action could make this team dangerous.

 

Arizona

Two keys to the game:

Stay home

The Wildcats will be playing in Arizona Stadium, but it will have to be the defense that stays home tomorrow. Arizona must be alert and poised when it comes to defending the triple-option, The Citadel’s biggest threat this weekend. In a game where the momentum can change with one play, the linebackers will be especially tested in defending the dive, the pitch and the keep. Arizona’s defense spent time watching film of Georgia Tech — who runs the same option packages — but will need to execute their assignments to keep an upset at bay.

Don’t get hurt

There’s only one week before the Iowa game, Arizona’s chance to make a statement against a ranked team in the non-conference season. Many of the Wildcats were banged up in fall camp but made their return in time for the season opener. For Arizona to finally reach its Rose Bowl goals, it needs to stay healthy throughout its four-game home stand that ends the non-conference schedule and begins Pacific 10 Conference play. If the Wildcats can build a lead early, head coach Mike Stoops should have no qualms about saving his starters for the Hawkeyes next weekend.

 

Two impact players:

Nic Grigsby, RB

After being in and out of the lineup last season, Arizona’s senior running back had to adjust back to game speed against Toledo in the Wildcats’ season opener. He scored two touchdowns in the contest, including a 36-yard score that looked like Grigsby was back to pre-injury form. The most important thing he’ll have to do, however, is stay healthy through the game.

The linebackers

Arizona’s defense surprised many last week, but facing the triple-option is something even the veteran players haven’t had recent experience with.  Last week, transfer linebackers Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo — who hadn’t had a down of Division I experience — came up big with an interception and combined for 12 tackles. Despite its success against Toledo, the linebackers still have a lot to improve upon before Iowa, and The Citadel seems like the perfect tune-up.

 

­—Compiled by Nicole Dimtsios

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