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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA football’s identity crisis

It’s tough to compete at a high level when a team’s identity is directly based on one player.

Quarterback Nick Foles, by nature, is the figurehead of the Arizona Wildcats, and for good reason. He’s already thrown for 1447 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season, but the Wildcats know that he can’t be their entire offense.

But by using him as their only source of identity, the Wildcats have fallen into a 1-3 hole to start the season.

Bottom line: they need to start diversifying their portfolio.
Arizona head coach Mike Stoops has said that the process of forging a new offensive identity, one that utilizes the run game to complement the passing attack, is a difficult one.

“(We’re) trying to get our tight ends and full backs to be good blockers,” Stoops said. “I think we’re improving. Obviously with the backs, you’ve got to give them opportunities.

“These guys are good runners,” he added, “and we need to try and find a balance in our run game.”

The Wildcats have utilized a passing-dominated, air raid style of offense based on the Texas Tech offenses of the Mike Leach era.
By being forced to run that style non-stop however, opposing defensive coverages only have to be one-dimensional.

“When you (are facing) a quarterback as good as Nick, what are going to do?” Stoops said. “Are you going to stop the run, or are you going to play two deep to stop the pass?”

For the last three games, opposing defenses have dropped back and have been able to contain the Arizona passing game to minimize the points on the board.

“We have to be able to run the football, that’s pretty general,” Stoops said. “We’ve got to simplify the game for our players and let them play.”

While the Wildcats’ rushing numbers are still low in comparison to their opposition so far this season, the efforts of Ka’Deem Carey and Keola Antolin are evident, as the Wildcats were able to stretch the run a little bit better against Oregon on Saturday. The duo combined for 103 yards on 25 carries, a not-too-shabby 4.1-yard per carry average.

“We’ve got to get the run game going a little bit more, which I thought we did on Saturday,” Arizona offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said. “I think without the sacks, we had close to 130 yards rushing.”

The Wildcats head to Los Angeles this weekend to take on the USC Trojans, and that identity shift will need to come by then if they want to get a win. For the Wildcats to have success, Littrell’s offense will have to match the Trojans’ beat for beat.

The receivers will need to catch, Foles will have to be accurate, and the offensive line will have to make room for the running backs to move.

“We need to win this game and try to make up some ground on our side of the division,” Stoops said. “We need to get off to a better start and certainly this would be a great way.”

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