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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Run game takes WSU by surprise

    Running back Nicolas Grigsby finds a hole in Arizonas 48-20 win over Washington State Saturday at Arizona Stadium. The freshman Grigsby enjoyed a career day, gaining 262 all-purpose yards, including 186 on the ground.
    Running back Nicolas Grigsby finds a hole in Arizona’s 48-20 win over Washington State Saturday at Arizona Stadium. The freshman Grigsby enjoyed a career day, gaining 262 all-purpose yards, including 186 on the ground.

    Throughout the season’s first half, the Arizona football team has shown a bundle of different personalities on offense. At times, it has struggled to run the football and at others, it simply couldn’t score in the red zone.

    The Wildcats addressed both issues Saturday night against Washington State, compiling 567 total yards, 227 on the ground.

    “”I think it’s official: we have an offense,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”I think (running that well) goes to being able to take what the defense gives you and being good enough to do that.””

    Arizona has demonstrated a pass-first mentality throughout the year in lieu of a dependable running game, as quarterback Willie Tuitama set a school record with 61 attempts last weekend at California.

    After not having a 100-yard rusher all season, Arizona decided to put the ball in the hands of true freshman running back Nicolas Grigsby, who hit the century mark before halftime.

    “”They weren’t expecting the run, so they thought we were going to come out throwing and we caught them off guard,”” Grigsby said. “”Our offense is unstoppable. … We just came out thinking high and just know what we’re going to do.””

    The Wildcats’ scheme showed no signs of an old-school, run-based offense in the previous four games, and the Cougars seemed to be unprepared to stop Arizona’s rushing attack.

    Cougars defensive back Husain Abdullah admitted WSU was focusing on Arizona’s passing attack.

    “”The run game caught us by surprise,”” he said. “”We game-planned for the pass, but they countered us and came with some nice runs. So when everyone started coming in for the run, they hit us over the top.””

    An effective running game boosted what was already a much-heralded passing game.

    The Wildcats used an array of play-action passes to exploit the creeping Cougar defense, waiting for WSU to bite on the run, only to throw it over the coverage.

    Tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Mike Thomas were the prime benefactors, combining for 168 yards receiving and four touchdowns.

    Gronkowski said the coverage was softer in the secondary thanks to the successful running attack, which freed him up to make plays.

    “”This offense is definitely neat,”” Gronkowski said. “”There are so many aspects we can hurt people with, during the short passes, during the long passes, running and spreading people out. … It’s tricky.””

    Thomas said he couldn’t be happier with the way Arizona moved the ball on the ground.

    “”We did some good things with the run, and it turned out good,”” Thomas said. “”With the run game, they couldn’t stop it, so we just kept pounding it down their throats.””

    – Bobby Stover contributed to this report

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