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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Trojans pound Wildcats on the ground

Trojans pound Wildcats on the ground
Tim Glass

Two weeks ago, Arizona’s front seven was one of the most feared in the nation, holding opponents to 88.4 yards rushing per game.

But for the second consecutive week, Arizona’s once-stout run defense was MIA and en route to a 24-21 loss to Southern California at Arizona Stadium on Saturday.

“”That was really the difference in the game, their ability to run,”” head coach Mike Stoops said after the game. “”There was no trickery involved really, they just lined up and pounded us pretty good.””

One week after yielding 217 rushing yards and four scores at Stanford, the Wildcats were once again exposed on the ground, surrendering 205 yards.

Marc Tyler rushed for 160 yards and the Trojans held the ball for 37:27.

“”Marc (Tyler), he was just very physical,”” Stoops said. “”I thought they got good vertical push at the point of attack. When he gets downhill, he’s a big physical guy. He ran well all night.””

The Wildcats have now given up a combined 422 rushing yards and six rushing scores on the ground in their last two contests after yielding only 707 yards and four scores through the first eight.

“”It’s disappointing to give up another 200 yards again especially because we take pride in our run defense,”” said linebacker Paul Vassallo. “”We were doing so well early in the season and in the last couple games we’ve struggled.””

Although Arizona mostly beat itself with its inability to get off the field defensively, the offense struggled to convert scoring opportunities.

On the game’s opening drive, Alex Zendejas pushed a 34-yard field goal attempt wide right and it was off to the races for USC, who scored on the very next possession.

Arizona had a chance to answer back, but USC sacked quarterback Nick Foles and forced a fumble that it recovered at the Wildcats’ 22-yard-line, leading to a 7-yard touchdown pass from Matt Barkley to Rhett Ellison.

From that point on Arizona was forced to become one-dimensional, as it trailed 14-0 with no established run game. Foles went on to throw for 353 yards and three scores, including a 5-yard pass to Douglas to start off the second quarter and a 31-yard bomb to Travis Cobb that left Arizona down 21-14 going into the break.

But the Trojans sustained drives lasting as long as nine minutes and Arizona’s defense couldn’t get off of the field due to its inability to stop the run.

“”We needed the defense to get off the field and get our offense back on the field with good field position and we weren’t really able to do that tonight,”” said safety Adam Hall, who collected his first career interception.

Even when the offense did get the ball, they continued to struggle finishing drives. The Wildcats had a chance to tie things up early in the third quarter, but a Douglas fumble at the USC 15 negated a scoring opportunity.

Foles did his job, and receivers Terrence Miller (seven catches, 117 yards), Juron Criner (six catches, 98 yards) and Douglas (six catches, 44 yards, two touchdowns) stepped up.

But it came down to Arizona getting stops defensively, which it simply couldn’t do.

“”We’ve got to play better as a team,”” Stoops said. “”Offense, defense, special teams, I don’t think we’ve played well the last two weeks.””

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