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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football preview: Wildcats and Huskies mirror each other

Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 15 Wildcats took on the UCLA Bruins in a Pacific 10 Conference college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Arizona held off a late fourth-quarter push to beat the home team 29-21.

The playing styles may be drastically different, but through the first half of the season the successes, and more recent failures, of Arizona and Washington are practically mirror images.

The Wildcats (3-3, 0-3 Pac-12) are riding a three-game losing streak, but all three have been against ranked opponents, the same as all three of the Huskies (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) losses. Earlier in the year, both teams beat a ranked foe at home and then took their fresh top-25 ranking into Eugene, Ore., only to be humbled by the Ducks.

Both have let opportunities slip through their fingertips, only to find themselves wondering what might have been.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez said he shouldn’t think about the missed opportunities so far this season, but he can’t help himself from considering how a break or two could’ve altered the course of Arizona’s season.

“We move on after 24 hours,” Rodriguez said. “But if you think about it and look at it, I get frustrated knowing that we [were] this close. But I’m not going to dwell on it, because there’s no reset buttons or do-overs. It’s not like PlayStation or Xbox.

“I think you try to learn from it as much you can and, heck, move on and get excited for the next one. And I’m excited for the next one.”

The games have been close, as Arizona has lost back-to-back heartbreakers to Oregon State and Stanford by a combined nine points. Washington has played four games against teams ranked No. 11 or higher at the time.

To turn things around, both teams might need to be carried on the shoulders of their dual-threat quarterbacks.

Senior Matt Scott has statistically performed better than Washington’s Keith Price, but the talent and athleticism of the two signal-callers draw close comparisons.

“I think [Scott and Price] are similar in a lot of ways,” Rodriguez said. “And we’re throwing it more, I think. We’re throwing it an awful lot more probably than anyone imagined. But I think they’re very similar and they’re very, very competitive guys that their offense are kind of built around their strengths.”

As of late the Arizona defense has fallen off the map, ranking 110th in total defense, so slowing down a dual-threat quarterback in Price will be a tough task.

“He’s got some wheels,” linebacker Jake Fischer said. “And he can get the first down whenever he needs to. So just close down the pocket, take away the passing lanes and go from there.”

Price’s junior campaign hasn’t been as stellar as many expected, in part because of the Huskies tough schedule. Still, Price only has 1,106 total yards — 83rd overall — and just seven touchdowns on six interceptions, well below his 33 to 11 ratio in 2011.

Struggling against defenses like LSU, Stanford and Oregon doesn’t take away from his ability as a quarterback, though, and Scott said he was impressed with Price’s performance against No. 11 USC.

“He’s pretty mobile. He runs around a lot,” Scott said. “He can make pretty much all the throws, so he’s a good quarterback.”

Scott, on the other hand, has produced big numbers this season, even being picked as the Pac-12 offensive player of the year at midseason by CBS Sports, even though wins haven’t come with the performances as of late. When Washington has thrived this season, it’s been with its pass defense led by cornerback Desmond Trufant.

The Huskies No. 12 ranked passing defense allows just 6.8 yards per pass attempt, but they’ll be tested against Scott and his 2,321 total yards, fifth in the nation.

Saturday will be the first time since Sept. 15 that neither the Huskies nor the Wildcats are playing a ranked opponent. Rodriguez isn’t approaching the game in that frame of mind, though.

“I think you have to treat them [like one] because they’re probably gonna be a ranked team before the season’s out, and they’ve beaten a ranked team,” Rodriguez said. “They’re without question one of the most athletic teams in our league.”

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