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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Ritter’s Rules

    Quarterbacks

    BYU’s Max Hall will be making his collegiate debut, while Arizona’s Willie Tuitama will be making his debut in a new offensive system. Although Hall is certainly a highly-touted passer, Tuitama’s in-game experience and previous success of winning on the road – and against BYU – is a plus.

    Advantage: Arizona

    Running backs

    BYU’s trio of running backs is a bit depleted. Manase Tonga is suspended, and Fui Vakapuna is not at full strength due to a leg injury he suffered in 2006. However, Harvey Unga is not a drop-off at the position. Arizona just doesn’t have enough depth at tailback to compare.

    Advantage: BYU

    Wide Receivers

    Both teams have small concerns at receiver. Three of BYU’s top receivers from last year either are gone on a mission or have used up their eligibility. The theme for Arizona’s receivers is youth, and that will carry on throughout the season.

    Advantage: BYU

    Offensive Line

    The BYU offensive line just might be the deepest position on the field Saturday. The Cougars return only three starters on the line, but they are coming off a year when they allowed only 15 sacks. Arizona, on the other hand, allowed 31.

    Advantage: BYU

    Defensive Line

    Arizona returns all four starters from a year ago, and the team is expecting an even bigger season from defensive end Louis Holmes. It’s a tall task going up against BYU’s stingy offensive line, but the Cougars are hurt by the loss of nose tackle Russell Tialavea.

    Advantage: Arizona

    Linebackers

    BYU switched from a 3-3-5 defensive alignment to a 3-4 just because of the talent at linebacker. But Arizona’s linebacking core definitely makes a case for itself with all three starters returning. Still, Kelly Poppinga, Bryan Kehl and David Nixon round out a much better group.

    Advantage: BYU

    Cornerbacks

    If there is any weakness from BYU’s defense, it’s the cornerback group. If there is one strong point of Arizona’s entire team, it’s Antoine Cason.

    Advantage: Arizona

    Prediction

    The teams share many same strengths and weaknesses as well as a similar style of play, but BYU is hungry to beat Arizona after the Cougars lost last year’s opener at Arizona. It’ll be a close one.

    BYU 24, Arizona 21

    – compiled by Mike Ritter

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