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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Slowing Tyler key for UA’s front seven

Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 18 Arizona Wildcats hosted the USC Trojans in a college football game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The visiting Trojans upset the ‘Cats 21-24.

The Arizona defense is hoping it doesn’t have a déjà vu moment against USC and running back Marc Tyler on Saturday.

Tyler ran around, through and over the Wildcats’ defense en route to a career-high 160 yards in last year’s meeting between the two schools. But this time around, Arizona knows what it needs to do to stop the 5-foot-11, 230-pound senior — even if it’s easier said than done.

“If you don’t get low to tackle him, he’ll run you over,” defensive coordinator Tim Kish said. “He’s powerful because he’s as big and strong as he is, but he’s shifty and sees everything in front of him.”

After having a career day against Arizona a season ago, Tyler could be primed for more of the same this year. The last three running backs to face the Wildcats have each set a career high in yards, and all three have had a top-tier quarterback behind center.

Those teams have been able to take advantage of an Arizona defense that is over-aggressive at times; hitting play-action passes for big plays.

“That’s a credit to this conference and the type of people playing in it,” Kish said. “I just think their run and play-action passing game complement each other as well as any team in the conference.”

But most of what USC does on offense starts with the man carrying the ball.

As physical as a running back as Tyler is, most of his success stems from his outstanding vision. USC uses zone-blocking schemes on its run plays, which allow the running back to make his own reads and find holes.

“He understands what they’re trying to do,” head coach Mike Stoops said. “His size makes him a factor … he understands the zone very well.”

Tyler’s physical abilities — specifically his ability to jump cut, Kish said — make him a perfect fit in the USC offense. The Trojans are philosophically very similar to Stanford offensively, preferring a bigger running back with good vision that’s able to break tackles.

“There’s a little carryover between these two games,” Stoops said. “A lot of I-formation, downhill running.”

But linebacker Paul Vassallo thinks that last year’s meeting with USC has the Wildcats ready for what they’ll see on Saturday.

“He’s a big, physical back and we’re definitely going to have our hands full,” Vassallo said. “But we’re up to the challenge.”

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