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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    BYU’s lauded QB returns to home state

    It’s a high-powered offense against a shutdown defense. John Beck versus the Arizona secondary.

    In order for one team to come out on top in tomorrow night’s season-opening contest against Brigham Young, something has to give.

    The senior Beck, a graduate of Mesa’s Mountain View High School, was named first-team All-Mountain West Conference last season after throwing for a conference-best 3,709 yards and 27 touchdowns against 13 interceptions while completing 65.5 percent of his passes.

    This season, Beck was named MWC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year by two publications.

    “”John’s a fabulous player, and coming back to Arizona, he’s going to want to put on a great show,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said. “”But we feel like it’s a good match-up. We’re going to have to play well in the secondary. I like our secondary, they’ve played well all through camp, and they’re ready to go.””

    Said junior Wilrey Fontenot, one cornerback charged with slowing Beck: “”I love it. They’re going to come out passing … 40 times a game.””

    Like Beck, Arizona’s secondary comes loaded with preseason hype.

    Junior Antoine Cason, who was named a preseason All-American by Sports Illustrated, is considered by many to be among the top cornerbacks in the nation. He also made the watch list for the 2006 Chuck Bednarik Award, given each year to the nation’s top defensive player.

    Senior safety Michael Johnson was given honorable mention for All-Pacific 10 Conference consideration after bursting onto the scene with a three-interception performance against Oregon State late last season.

    Not to be overlooked is Fontenot, a disruptive presence in the defensive backfield who has four career interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.

    Beck had better get used to seeing both Cason and Fontenot, as neither have missed a defensive snap in their respective careers since arriving on campus in 2004.

    “”They like to throw the ball around a little bit. I’m excited for that,”” Cason said. “”That’s where I make my name, is in the passing game.””

    Beck has the weapons to help him succeed. Senior running back Curtis Brown is a preseason All-Mountain West pick by five publications after rushing for 1,123 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.

    Two tight ends, Jonny Harline (63 receptions, 853 yards, five touchdowns in 2005) and Dan Coats (21 receptions, 189 yards, three touchdowns), are also expected to have an impact tomorrow night.

    It’s that multitude of threats that has Stoops concerned.

    “”They move the ball on everybody,”” he said. “”They have a lot of confidence. That offense…they have an answer for about everything you do. You have to keep them off balance and not let them play to keep the tempo of the game.””

    He compares their offensive structure to that of Texas Tech, an offense he became familiar with as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003.

    “”It’s the same exact structure, but they emphasize things that are a little bit different,”” Stoops said. “”They like to create formations with standard personnel groupings on the field, but they … probably run the ball a little bit more.

    “”There’s a lot of people in and out…guys running all over the place.””

    But, Stoops added, Arizona has an advantage that may help contain the Cougar offense: The crowd is expected to show up in force in a sold-out Arizona Stadium.

    “”We’re going to have a packed house, and the noise level, that really helps,”” he said. “”The mechanics of an offense change when the crowd gets into it.””

    When Arizona has the ball, Arizona’s sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama will have his shot to take apart BYU’s weakness: Their defense. The Cougars gave up 417.1 yards per game, including 269.3 through the air, and opponents scored a whopping 29.2 points per game.

    “”We’re just trying to show everyone that we can move the ball the whole game,”” said Tuitama’s newest target, starting tight end Brandyn McCall. “”Not just in spurts here and there, but really dominate the whole entire game.””

    Stoops said he expects the Cougars to use many linebacker blitzes to disrupt the flow of Arizona’s offense, forcing himself and offensive coordinator Mike Canales to make some adjustments.

    “”If they’re going to take something away, we’ve got to be able to find ways to move the football,”” Stoops said.

    “”I think we’re probably going in with a little bit more (offensively) than probably you usually do, because you have to,”” he added. “”But there’s a fine line between having too much. We’ve got to let our kids go out there and execute the play, play with confidence and play fast.””

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