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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


3 ways to win and 3 ways to lose: Arizona vs Cal

Rebecca Marie Sasnett
Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat

3 ways to win

Stopping Rubenzer and Goff

Cal brings an NFL-ready quarterback in sophomore Jared Goff, who has already thrown for 510 yards over two games and his backup, Luke Rubenzer, has thrown for 103 yards and has 82 rushing yards as well.

Arizona struggled with pass defense in its last game against Nevada and will have to do a much better job, as it is currently ranked 10th in the Pac-12 Conference in passing defense, allowing 64.6 percent of opposing quarterbacks’ passing attempts.

Even UA head coach Rich Rodriguez is a little nervous about all of the different packages that Cal can bring to the table.

“We have had to prepare for different packages for Cal,” Rodriguez said. “Our quarterbacks have been running the same plays, so we don’t have anything different for any of the other quarterbacks.”

The Offensive Duel

Over the past three nonconference games, the Arizona offense has come to play and has come up huge, scoring 119 points in its first three games.

If redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon can continue successfully passing to Arizona’s dynamic receiving corps, Cal will have a difficult time on defense.

On top of that, true freshman running back Nick Wilson has produced 149.7 rushing yards per game and 6.8 yards per carry. This offense has been working together and must continue to do so, especially going up against Cal’s offense.

Crowd goes wild

For Arizona’s first Pac-12 game of the season, it may need a little help. Arizona Stadium will host its first-ever white-out, and it is relying on the ZonaZoo and fans to bring even more spark to this game in particular.

Of all 31 all-time meetings with Cal, 21 have been decided by a possession or less, and 10 have been decided by a field goal or less.

Rodriguez has continued to compliment the ZonaZoo and the rest of the Arizona fans for being continuously loud.

3 ways to lose

Goff goes off

California quarterback Jared Goff is just a sophomore, but he could wreak havoc on a sometimes shaky Arizona defense.

Goff is seventh in the nation in passing efficiency, 20th in passing touchdowns, 34th in passing yards per completion and 38th in passing yards per game. As a team, Cal is 22nd in the NCAA in scoring offense (43 points per game) and 27th in passing offense.

Plus, the Golden Bears had extra time to prepare for the Wildcats last week with a bye.

Meanwhile, Arizona gave up 349 yards to UTSA and 429 to Nevada.
The Wildcats’ defense has had a bend but don’t break mentality so far, but the Air Raid (or Bear Raid) offense could break them.

Solomon struggles

This could go every week, but it is especially important as the Wildcats open Pac-12 play.

Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon is one of the best quarterbacks in the country through three games, as he ranks 13th in the nation in passing and 10th in total offense. He leads all FBS freshman quarterbacks with 934 passing yards.

However, who was that against? That would be two Mountain West teams and a Conference USA squad.

UTSA’s program hasn’t been around for half a decade, Nevada is winless on the road in the last two years and UNLV is UNLV.

Cal is a Pac-12 team and will provide a bigger challenge.

Looking ahead

Yes, Cal is 2-0 but a bigger match-up is coming up in game five for the Wildcats. In their next game, the Wildcats travel to No. 2 Oregon for a Thursday night contest on ESPN.

Arizona overlooked its foe before the mighty Ducks last year and were embarrassed at home by a mediocre Washington State team, 24-17. The Cougars also ran the Air Raid offense.

The Wildcats have to focus on Cal to avoid another Wazzu debacle.

Follow Matt Wall and James Kelley on Twitter @mwall20 and @jameskelley520

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