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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    One-game season

    ESPN “”College GameDay.”” The Zona Zoo “”red-out.”” A ticket to the Rose Bowl. A chance to become Pacific 10 Conference champions.

    All the ingredients to electrify this game are there, but only one thing matters for Arizona: Beat Oregon.

    “”It’s a big game, but even if (“”GameDay””) wasn’t coming we’d still go out and do what it takes and give it 100 percent,”” said Arizona senior offensive lineman Mike Diaz.

    Defeating the No. 11 Ducks, who are currently in sole possession of first place in the Pac-10, will not be an easy task for the Wildcats (6-3, 4-2 Pac-10). Oregon (8-2, 6-1 Pac-10) is one of the most well-rounded teams in the conference and boasts one of the most effective offenses in the country.

    “”This is a very challenging week for everybody,”” head coach Mike Stoops said. “”I think when you look at Oregon play, their athleticism, their skill and their speed really jump out at you.

    “”Defensively, our discipline is going to be tested across the board in our assignments and our ability to slow them down,”” he added. “”I don’t think you’re going to stop them in the entire contest, that’s very difficult to do. You’ve got to try and get stops and get turnovers and come up with some big plays on third down.””

    It sounds like the famous SportsCenter catch phrase, “”You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.””

    The “”him”” in this case is Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, whose 11 touchdown passes and nine rushing touchdowns have made him one of the most dangerous offensive playmakers in college football.

    “”They’re much more dynamic when they have a quarterback that can read things, that can run, and that can throw,”” defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said. “”Certainly somebody like Masoli, who is so physical, it definitely is much more difficult to defend with a player like that.””

    A quarterback so dangerous with his legs puts extra pressure on each defensive player. Defensive linemen have to keep, contain and wrap him up in the backfield and linebackers have to make sure Masoli doesn’t get beyond them.

    No position has more pressure on it than the defensive backs, though, because they need to be able to defend the pass while also helping with the run.

    “”There’s definitely some pressure (on the defensive backs) because you have to add guys to the run game with the quarterback so there’s definitely going to be some one-on-one situations that we have to win,”” Mark Stoops said. “”It’s going to be hard enough to play that one-on-one, especially when you use poor technique like we did last year.””

    Last year, of course, was the devastating 55-45 loss in Oregon’s Autzen Stadium. The Wildcats surrendered a staggering 45 points in the first half, only to roar back in the second half but fall short. Arizona spent countless hours watching the film of that game this week, figuring out what didn’t work in the first half and what did work in the second half.

    “”Frustrating first half,”” Mark Stoops added. “”What frustrated me about that game last year is that there were plays we should’ve defended, and didn’t.””

    An emphasis on defensive fundamentals has been the theme of practice this week, but what about the offense? People have been so quick to praise Oregon’s offense and voice concerns about whether Arizona’s defense that they’re forgotten about “”Air Zona.””

    But sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

    “”Every week you want to go out and put up more points than the other team, especially with Oregon because of the things they do on offense,”” said senior wide receiver Terrell Turner. “”This is going to be a shootout, we know that. We’re prepared, we’re going to go out and execute and put points on the board.””

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