The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

47° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “‘O’ flyin’, rush not so much”

    UA head coach Mike Stoops stands over running back Chris Jennings after a hard hit during Arizonas 29-27 loss to New Mexico on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. The running game has also taken a hit so far this season.
    UA head coach Mike Stoops stands over running back Chris Jennings after a hard hit during Arizona’s 29-27 loss to New Mexico on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. The running game has also taken a hit so far this season.

    The Arizona football team’s offense has proven in two consecutive games that it is capable of driving like a well-oiled machine. It just isn’t running on all of its cylinders.

    Though the Wildcats have been more than effective on the offensive side of the ball thus far this season – averaging 409.7 yards per game – a rather lopsided portion of the yardage has come through the air, mainly because Arizona has been struggling on the ground.

    “”We are trying to get balance in the run game, and that is an area that we need to improve on and certainly something we are conscious of,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”We are really going to continue to run the football. We have to, and we have to try and find more balance.””

    Arizona has struggled to establish a solid rushing attack, resorting to the pass game when the ground game has not been consistent. Arizona has averaged only 88.3 yards a game on the ground, gaining only 3.6 yards per rush.

    Arizona has no rushing touchdowns on the season and is ranked 101st in the nation in total rushing offense.

    Consequently, the Wildcats have struggled to control the time of possession. So far this season, Arizona’s scoring drives have been everything but methodical, averaging 64.7 yards on 6.7 plays and spanning a little more than two minutes .

    “”We are going to be lopsided

    We aren’t really struggling. …We have been making plays, but we just have to make
    bigger ones.

    Xavier Smith,
    running back

    between pass and rush, that’s what we do,”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”We have to run the ball a little better, but we need to establish a passing game and get people to respect the passing game.””

    “”With us in the running game we aren’t as worried so much about quantity as much as we are about quality,”” he added. “”When we run it we want to be able to make yards and have a good yard-per-carry average, and in order to do that we have to be good at throwing it.””

    Dykes stressed the importance of getting first downs, and the Wildcats have been successful in doing so through the air. Arizona has 66 first downs on the season, and only 15 have come on the ground.

    “”We have been trying to improve (on the running game) and make sure we have it down,”” said running back Xavier Smith. “”We aren’t really struggling. … We have been making plays, but we just have to make bigger ones.””

    The Wildcats will continue to take a running-back-by-committee approach, giving Smith and Chris Jennings opportunity to make plays. After having nine carriers for 58 yards against NAU two weeks ago, Nick Grigsby isn’t expected to play a large role in the Wildcat backfield.

    Jennings declined to comment.

    “”Nothing has changed with our backs, they will all play,”” Stoops said. “”Nick has to become a more reliable player, and when he does he will get all of those opportunities. There is a lot that goes into being reliable, and those are things that I think Nick needs to continue to grow, and if he does he will be an outstanding player.””

    Though Stoops acknowledged the running game has struggled, he remains confident in the offense’s capabilities.

    “”It just comes from working, and it will continue to get better as the season progresses,”” Stoops said. “”But if people aren’t going to let us (run), and they are going to blitz everyone, we are going to need to throw the football.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search