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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Football notes: Wildcats will use speed to counteract Stanford’s size

Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat Ka’Deem Carey, No. 25, runs the ball in a 59-38 victory over OSU on Sept. 8, 2012.

The size and strength of Stanford is well documented, from its style of play to its massive interior players and tight ends. Now that Arizona is preparing to take on the Cardinal in Palo Alto, Calif., the Wildcats’ lack of size on the line is being exposed in plain sight.

The offensive line is not nearly as strong as it needs to be, especially going against the Stanford defense, head coach Rich Rodriguez said at practice Tuesday.

“I think the guys have worked pretty hard, but there’s another whole level of strength we have to get up front,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez pointed to the weight room as the main reason for the disparity between the lines. While some players are serious about lifting and gaining strength, others aren’t quite as dedicated, he said.

“Those guys have to live in the weight room,” Rodriguez said about the offensive and defensive linemen. “The weight room has got to be their friend. I think for some of them it’s been activity, but not productivity, in there.”

While the average offensive lineman for Arizona stands an eighth of an inch taller, approximately 6 feet and 5 inches, the Cardinal linemen are more than 13 pounds heavier on average — roughly 303 pounds on average for Stanford versus 286 pounds for Arizona.

The average Stanford defensive lineman is both taller and bigger as well — roughly a third of an inch taller at 6-foot-4, and more than 12 pounds heavier than Arizona’s defensive line.

The Wildcats can’t match up pound for pound, but running back Ka’Deem Carey said they have a way to counter it — speed.

“We’re fast, so we just gotta go out there and run against them,” Carey said. “Just hurry up and try to catch them out of shape.”

Wide receiver Dan Buckner compared Stanford’s defense to the team the UA just lost to, No. 14 Oregon State. But even in the loss, the Wildcats scored 35 points on the talented and strong Beavers, and Buckner said Arizona needs to keep the tempo up and the ball moving.

“I think speed kills, and this is a speed offense,” Buckner said. “If they’re a big physical team, maybe we can wear them down. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

A Line in Flux

Size isn’t the only thing bearing down on the Wildcats’ offensive line this weekend, as health is also a major issue.

Right guard Trace Biskin missed the game Saturday, forcing tackle Mickey Baucus to move over to guard, and backup Shane Zink to step in at left tackle.

This ability to move around showed a level of versatility for the offensive linemen, but it was versatility forced by injuries rather than choice.

“A lot of people always say we’re not tremendously big,” said center Addison Bachman, who got playing time when Kyle Quinn was hurt on Saturday. “But we’re fast and we can play different positions.”

The amount of change required with the line isn’t an ideal situation, Rodriguez said.

“You’d rather just have — to get the chemistry better — your seven or eight guys playing the same positions,” he said. “But we’re not afforded that luxury at this time.”

Even if Biskin returns Saturday, Arizona may still have to adjust for injuries. Quinn’s status remains uncertain until the injury report is released Thursday, and backup tackle Lene Maiava is done for the season.

Bright and early

Throughout fall camp and the regular season, Arizona has practiced in the late afternoon to help prepare for its evening games. But with the Wildcats’ first early start on the horizon — kickoff is scheduled for high noon — Rodriguez changed practice to 6 a.m. sharp in order to get the players adjusted to a different sleep schedule.

“We’re trying to get our guys to learn to adapt and overcome,” Rodriguez said.

At least for the first practice, players embraced the change and even showed up 15 minutes early.

“I don’t know if it’s gonna make a huge difference,” Rodriguez said. “But I hope it makes a little bit of a difference.”

The End of Nwoko’s Wildcat Career

Fifth-year senior Greg Nwoko’s football career looks like it’s hit the finish line. A hip injury will cost him all of the 2012 season after missing 2011 with an ACL injury.

“He’s a great young man,” Rodriguez said. “You feel bad for him, but [Nwoko] has done everything we’ve asked in the program. He’s going to get his degree and he’s there every day at practice.”

Nwoko racked up 543 rushing yards, 195 yards receiving and six total touchdowns in his Arizona career. He redshirted his freshman year in 2008 and then missed all of last season after sustaining a knee injury.

The former running back was converted to linebacker during fall camp, but he injured his hip in his first practice and never recovered.

“We were really excited about him moving over [to defense] and giving us a big body at linebacker,” Rodriguez said. “But unfortunately it didn’t work out.

“I think his football career probably is finished,” Rodriguez added. “That being said, whatever walk of life he goes into, Greg Nwoko will have success.”

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