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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Running in place

Arizona football fans are going to find out how serious the Wildcats are about being a complete team on Saturday against No. 6 Stanford.

Getting pasted 37-14 at then-No. 9 Oklahoma State, the Wildcats’ first showdown with a top-10 team didn’t go well, and Arizona rushed for a whopping two yards per carry in that beating. That miserable showing led to a week of UA’s coaches talking about being committed to running the ball.

“Some of it’s my job as a coach, calling it more,” offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said. “We’ve just got to get better at it.”

Now it’s time for the Wildcats to show they’re serious.

For the past two years, Arizona’s lack of a run game has been painfully clear. Red zone and short-yardage struggles have been as much a part of the Wildcat offense as the Nick Foles to Juron Criner connection.

It’s clear that the current formula — running back Keola Antolin running sweeps and draws out of shotgun formations — isn’t going to work.

It’s not time for an overhaul of Arizona’s offense. It’s just that the few running sets that work for the Wildcats are rarely used.

Antolin’s actually a pretty effective back when he’s behind Foles in a single-back formation. Use fullback Taimi Totugi, and things get too cluttered. Have Antolin in shotgun, and he doesn’t have the burst to be at full speed as soon as he gets the ball and isn’t shifty enough to make people whiff in the backfield.

And believe it or not, it’s actually possible to throw the ball with a quarterback that’s under center. Especially a 6-foot-5, 240-pound one.

“Some of it’s personnel, some of it’s commitment — getting players to do better,” head coach Mike Stoops said. “And some of it’s coaching.”

Stoops is right. It’s a combination of all three.

Arizona doesn’t run the ball enough to be effective at it, has a very inexperienced O-line and isn’t playing the one running back on the roster than can create things on his own.

As Albert Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Now the biggest change needs to be the increased presence of freshman Ka’Deem Carey in the offense. Sure, he’s just a true freshman and is still learning blocking schemes. But Carey can’t show everyone why he was one of the most electrifying recruits in Arizona history without getting the ball in his hands.

“We have to get a playmaker in there and just give him an opportunity and just see what he can do,” Stoops said.

And now is a better time than ever for that to happen. Antolin getting twice as many touches as Carey hasn’t worked out on the big stage. Split the touches closer to 50-50 and see what happens.

It’s time to try something new, because let’s face it — Arizona’s ground attack can’t get much worse.

— Alex Williams is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu

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