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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Three ways to win, three ways to lose

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat Arizona beat Nevada 35-28 September 13th, 2014, at The University of Arizona Football Stadium

The stretch of Arizona football without Scooby Wright III is upon the Wildcats, and the No. 22 ranked squad is facing their first road test of the season.

Arizona squeaked out a win against UTSA, 42-32, but it was a costly victory as All-American linebacker Wright exited the game with a torn lateral meniscus. Injuries have set the Wildcats back a few steps on both sides of the ball, but a road victory against a hungry University of Nevada would be the Wildcats’ ideal scenario.

Arizona gave up over 500 yards and 29 first downs to the Roadrunners last week. If Arizona wants to come out on top in Reno, then there are three rules to abide by. Keep in mind, Nevada only lost to Arizona by seven points last season.

Three ways to win

1. Run Nick run!

Sophomore running back Nick Wilson was a marquee addition to last season’s squad as Ka’Deem Carey’s successor. Running the ball at a high level will be one of the reasons Arizona comes out on top this week. Wilson rushed for 97 yards in the season opener. Nevada senior linebacker Bryan Lane Jr. will be a handful for Arizona’s offensive line, but the Wildcats’s run game will be the bread and butter if they want to win.

2. Return of Samajie

Samajie Grant is back from his one game suspension and will be another reason why Arizona wins. Granted, Arizona has Nate Phillips that filled in at the slot position last week, but the swagger that Grant brings to the table is a characteristic that separates him from the bunch. Grant only had 50 receiving yards in the last nail biting meeting with the Wolf Pack, meaning a breakout game from could lead to a blowout win.

3. Parks as a leader

With Wright out, the leadership role on the defensive side of the ball will switch to the secondary, primarily on safety Will Parks. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has relied on middle linebackers his entire Arizona career with Jake Fischer and now Wright, but Parks will have to step up Saturday. Arizona will deal with a new quarterback and picking off the newbie could be the reason the Wildcats will be victorious.

Three ways to lose

1. The Scooby hangover

Haden Gregory is not the All-American Arizona fans are used to seeing every week, but the Wildcats can shine without the Heisman hopeful. Kanye West once asked in his song “Dark Fantasy,” “What’s worse, the pain or the hangover?”. The Wildcats could find themselves asking, “What would Scooby do?,” and Nevada has the chance to execute on the opportunity.

2. Wolf Pack hogging the ball

Nevada held the ball for 36 minutes in last season’s game with the Wildcat, and 21 of those minutes came in the first half. If Nevada can hold the ball and keep the Arizona offense off the field, especially against a defense that is trying to find a new identity without Wright, the clock may become Arizona’s worst nightmare.

3. Looking ahead

Let it be known that Nevada isn’t a pushover team like Arizona may be used to playing in non-conference play. A tendency teams can have—especially on the road—is to get by just enough for the win and move on to next week. In 2008, the Wildcats started off the season 4-1, with that one loss coming from the University of New Mexico. That loss came right before Arizona’s matchup against UCLA. Sure, it’s only NAU next week, but without their leader on defense, the Wildcats may be itching to get back to Arizona Stadium.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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