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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Keys to the game: Arizona

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA Wildcats vitory vs Citadel Bulldogs, UA Saturday Sept 11th, 2010 at Arizona Stadium.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Wildcats vitory vs Citadel Bulldogs, UA Saturday Sept 11th, 2010 at Arizona Stadium.

Arizona keys to the game

Keep the pace up

This game is a contrast of two completely different styles, and if the Hawkeyes dictate the pace, Arizona is in trouble.

“”If we sit there and let them get, eight-, nine-, 10-minute drives; 12-, 15-play drives, that’s really going to be really hard on us,”” said defensive end Ricky Elmore. “”I think it’s really up to the defense to really step up and really recognize what we need to do and get our offense the ball.””

The Wildcats want, and need, to play fast in order to win Saturday night. Iowa lulled them to sleep in 2009 and Arizona simply ran out of time. But if the defense can force a few quick three-and-outs and get the offense back on the field, Arizona’s offense has a chance to turn this contest into a shootout.

 

Establish the running game

No matter how many times Stoops says that Arizona is aiming to be a balanced football team in 2010, there’s no hiding that the Wildcats are a pass-first squad. But Arizona truly needs a balanced attack against the Hawkeyes. Iowa isn’t a blitzing team, and uses its NFL-caliber front four to get pressure. Arizona needs to take advantage of the fact that there are less players in the box and move the football. The Wildcats will struggle if Iowa makes them one-dimensional and could be facing a ton of three-and-outs if they can’t move the chains. They are effectively passing the ball in the flats to their backs so far this season, but with Iowa only bringing defensive line pressure, that allows seven other defenders to key in on the passing game. Needless to say, the usually pass-first Wildcats need some balance to stay afloat on Saturday.

 

DBs can’t fall asleep

For as much talk as there is about Iowa being a run-first, grind-it-out team, the Hawkeyes and Ricky Stanzi will make the Wildcats pay if they fall asleep.

“”They’re a great run team,”” said cornerback Robert Golden. “”So they try to run, run, run then play action you know, so try to get the secondary to fall asleep and hit you on the over the top.””

Iowa isn’t the “”spread it out and go deep”” style of team by any means, but Iowa’s top two receivers through two games — Allen Reisner and Marvin McNutt — have caught balls for 55 and 66 yards, respectively.

With that said, the Wildcats need to key in on stopping the run, but the quartet of Golden, Trevin Wade, Joe Perkins, and Anthony Wilcox need to stay alert.

Players to watch for Arizona

OT — Adam Grant

It’s rare that the outcome of a game rests on the shoulders of an offensive lineman, but that’s how things are shaping up this weekend. Adrian Clayborn is one of the best defensive ends in the country, and sixth-year senior Adam Grant will be lining up against him on every snap this weekend. At 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, Grant has the size advantage over the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Clayborn, but he’ll have his hands full with one of the best defensive ends in the country.

And not only does Grant need to keep Clayborn from getting to Nick Foles, he also has to help get a solid push to give Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin room to run. If the Wildcats can’t establish a run game, their quick-pass style will soon become predictable, making them one-dimensional and very beatable. Moral of the story: Adam Grant needs a huge game.

RBs — Nic Grigsby/Keola Antolin

If Arizona can’t establish a run game, they’re doomed. While that does start with the offensive line, Grigsby and Antolin need to hit the holes hard and keep the Wildcats balanced. Grigsby had a huge game against The Citadel with 115 yards and three touchdowns, but the Hawkeyes are lightyears ahead of the Bulldogs. Last season, Grigsby ripped off a 58-yard run in Iowa City, but he can’t dance around and wait for one big run this time around. He needs to get going early and often to give Arizona a chance. As for Antolin, head coach Mike Stoops said they need to get him the ball more and Saturday is the perfect chance. He’s been extremely effective catching the ball in the flats, but offers a nice change of pace as a downhill back against a smash-mouth team like Iowa. If Grigsby is caught dancing and Antolin is stuffed at the line, Arizona is in trouble.

NT — Lolomana Mikaele

This game is going to be decided up front, and the Wildcats need a big game from nose tackle Lolomana Mikaele to take the Hawkeyes out of their game plan. Iowa and running back Adam Robinson are looking to pound the ball and kill clock, which is where Mikaele comes in. The 6-foot-2, 305-pound senior captain will anchor Arizona’s run defense at nose tackle, and he needs to help the Wildcats get a solid push and not allow Robinson and the Hawkeyes any room between the tackles. If Mikaele and the rest of the defensive line can get penetration and get the offense back on the field, Arizona is in good shape.

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