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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Stanford offense to test Wildcats

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (12) finds a passing lane against the Duke defense on Saturday September 10, 2011, at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)

Still reeling from the loss last Saturday at Oklahoma State, the Arizona football team looks toward its next, and possibly toughest, test of the season when the No. 6 Stanford Cardinal heads to Tucson to take on the Wildcats this weekend.

For Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, the soft defense that came out on Saturday will be the one thing that needs to be corrected immediately for the Wildcats to have success against the dynamic Stanford offense.

“Defensively, I think it has more to do with us, you know, being more aggressive,” Stoops said in a press conference on Monday. “That doesn’t mean necessarily blitzing or doing anything crazy, it means just playing more aggressively.

“When you play these teams, they’re going to put you on your heels and get after you,“ Stoops added, “and we have to do a better job attacking the line of scrimmage and attacking everything from the get go.”

No other player in the nation does a better job pushing teams on their heels than Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. His up-tempo style of play is a cause for concern for the Wildcats, who gave up 397 yards to Oklahoma State through the air.

“He’s the best quarterback in the country,” Arizona defensive secondary coach Ryan Walters said. “The way he runs that offense, it’s like a machine. There’s hardly any mistakes made, he takes advantage of what defenses give him.

“He’s got an arm that’s out of this world.”

For Stoops, the most dominant part of Luck’s game is his poise in the pocket.

“It always seems like he’s got a lane to throw through. A lot of that is their protection of him, but he really sits back there and trusts his protection well,” Stoops said. “He’ll run when he has to, but he has such a good pocket presence.”

The junior’s maturity has developed in Stanford’s pro-style of offense that makes Luck an ideal quarterback at the next level.

“He’s very advanced already,” Stoops said. That’s why he’s such a strong commodity for the NFL. (Stanford’s offense is) like an NFL offense in a lot of ways.”

While Luck is an essential part to Stanford’s offensive success, senior wide receiver Chris Owusu is the one of the Cardinal’s biggest playmaking threats.

An injury-plagued junior season limited Owusu’s touches last year, but so far this season he’s grabbed 14 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown, establishing himself as Luck’s go to guy.

“(Owusu’s) big, he’s fast, he’s an experienced guy that’s played a lot of football,” Stoops said. “They know how to give him the football.”

Owusu’s experience adds to the level of the maturity that the young Wildcats will have contend with throughout the entire contest on Saturday.

Walters said the components of the Cardinal pro set involved many two-back sets with the quarterback hitting receivers off three-set drops.

“It’s not as much shotgun, spread it out, chuck it all around the field,” he said. “(With Stanford) there’s a method to what they want to do on the offense and they do it well.”

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