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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Stoops places Moore, Williams ‘on a pedestal’ as top wideouts”

    Opponent Analysis

    The Arizona football team has been in this situation before.

    The big nonconference home game for Arizona is against a team from a mid-major conference immediately following a game in which the Wildcats dismantled an inferior squad – 2007’s 45-24 win over NAU versus 2008’s 70-0 demolishing of Idaho. Last year, it was a New Mexico team that wanted to prove it could play with teams in the Bowl Championship Series’ six major conferences. This season, it’s Toledo, which will visit the desert looking to prove last year’s 5-7 mark doesn’t accurately reflect the Rockets’ program.

    Toledo, however, will have more time to prepare for Arizona then last year’s Lobo team that beat Arizona 29-27. The Wildcats will be the Rockets’ first opponent of the season.

    Aside from having fresh legs, Toledo also returns 15 starters overall – four of them All-Mid-American Conference selections – and boasts a high-flying offense led by two standout receivers in senior Nick Moore and junior Stephen Williams.

    Moore and Williams were Toledo’s first pair of receivers to receive an All-Conference honor in the same season, and both are expected to be focal points of the Rockets’ offense again this year. UA football head coach Mike Stoops has gone as far to say that Moore and Williams could be the two most talented pass catchers Arizona will see this season.

    “”It’s a great feeling to hear that a head coach from another team puts us on a pedestal like that,”” Moore said. “”Me and Steve, we’ve been working hard and our coach has high expectations for us. He’s the type of guy who’s not worried about what we did last year. He’s all about what we’re gonna do this year.””

    This year, Toledo hopes to avoid the injuries that helped stall the Rockets’ 2007 season. Toledo defensive tackle Sean Williamson returns to action after missing last year with a leg injury and safety Tyrell Herbert will return to the fray as well. Those two additions should help two-time All-MAC safety Barry Church – a player who caught the attention of UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes – try and slow down Arizona’s suddenly unstoppable offense.

    “”(Church) runs around and makes a lot of plays. He’s very active,”” Dykes said. “”He’s a big, rangy guy. He makes a lot of big plays for them … I think they’re going to be a very improved defense (when compared to last year). I think it’s going to be a heck of a challenge for us.””

    Big plays will be necessary for the Rockets on both sides of the ball if they want to come away from Arizona Stadium with a result similar to the UA’s contest against New Mexico last season. Although New Mexico was more of a running team, the Lobos got plenty of big plays from their pair of wideouts who combined for 285 yards on 21 catches and hauled in three touchdowns against NFL-draftees Antione Cason and Wilrey Fontenot.

    Despite the fact those experienced corners gave up those lofty numbers to wideouts who weren’t of the same caliber of Moore and Williamson, Toledo doesn’t think it can move the ball at will on the Wildcats’ new

    defensive backfield.

    “”They just beat a team 70-0. I mean, their defense must be strong,”” Williams said. “”I was watching film and Idaho was throwing the ball around and (the Arizona defensive backs) looked very experienced. They looked good out there so we still have our work cut out for us.

    “”They’re a fast defense. They swarm to the ball really well,”” Willams added. “”We’ve just got to get ready to play. They all react so quickly – their linebackers, linemen, safeties and corners. They’ve got real good speed out there.””

    But speed isn’t the most important part of a defense. That would be how well the unit executes and UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops knows that.

    “”We’ve got to do what we do. The bottom line is that we have to go out there and execute and do our job,”” Stoops said. “”Just because we play a great receiver here or there, we don’t ever change our defense. We can’t do that.

    “”We’ve just got to play great team defense,”” Stoops added. “”Everybody needs to be where they’re supposed to be at all times and execute our defense and we’ll be fine.””

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