84? Eighty four? 8-4? Well, didn't see that coming, but I loved every second of it. Did we run the score up, hell no, if we had it've been 222-0 (I'm sure Cumberland still remembers that, Georgia Tech). Hell, back in the 1910's we beat some colleges 137-0, so SSU should consider themselves lucky. Well, now it's time to move on to next weekend, and our first real game, against the Wildcat's of Arizona.
The University of Arizona, (yes, we have to do this one more time) located in Tuscon AZ, is a public research institution with an enrollment of 39,000. Arizona football is 567-423-33 all time, with a 6-8-1 bowl record and 6 conference titles. The highpoint of the program came between 1992 and 1999 under coach Dick Tomey (there is already too much dick here at CRFF, but now theres a bit more), culminating in 1998 with a 12-1 record. Since then things have been, well, rough. Mike Stoops took over between 2004 and 2010, and succeeded in proving that his only real skill is screaming on the sideline (as well as ripping the heads off puppies and drinking their blood to keep his youthful appearance up). Okay, we all caught up? Great.
The 'Cats, fresh off a 7 point victory against Toledo, are looking to keep the RichRod era rolling against our Cowboys. Zona managed to look both impressive and terrible during the game, which is an impressive feat. The Wildcats managed to roll up 639 yards, but only managed to score 24 points. So, should we be worried about the yards, or excited about the lack of points? Well, probably a little of both, but we'll get into all that here in a minute. Mr. Rodriguez comes to Arizona after spending the 2011 season in purgatory at CBS as punishment for running the Michigan program into the ground (and lord knows, they don't need help doing that). As many of you probably know, the Rod offense is your standard spread but with a twist, he employs a run-first approach instead of the traditionial pass first spread. Also of note, ol' Rich is running a 3-3-5 odd stack defense this year (isn't that a dick kinda move, running some lame ass defense just to be different). Let's get into the offense and defense more after the jump.
Like every RichRod team, ever, the Wildcats run a variation of the zone read; throw in a little option, a dash more pass than usual, and we have the 2012 Arizona Wildcats. Now, obviously, we only have one game to base this preview on, and comparing this team to last years team is impossible. For one, RichRod doesn't strangle baby kittens as halftime motivation, like Mike Stoops did. And for two, neither the offense or defense run the same scheme. Add to that a new quarterback, senior Matt Scott, new starting running back Ka'Deem Carey, and returning linebacker Jake Fischer (who missed the entire 2011 season with a knee injury), and this is basically a new team. As far as stats go, I'm looking more at his time at UM than I am Arizona last year.
The RR offense averaged 189.3 yards a game rushing while at Meechegan, and 197 yards passing. To be successful against this offense we need to be able to contain the option, at the same time using more man defense to slow down the pass. Normally, Rod runs the ball two-to-one over the passing, but last week the Wildcats passed 46 times to 41 rushes. I think, much like last year, we will see a lot of pass, because I expect to be ahead with Zona playing catch up most of the game.
On the other side of the ball the wildcats run an odd stack defense in a 3-3-5 formation. Lets look at the 3-3-5 (or 3-5-3, it's all the same) defense: The main benefit to the odd stack is the ability to show many different fronts without actually changing the defense. You can show your opponent anything from a 4-3 to a 5-2 to a 3-4, hell even the old bear front, while maintaing the base defense. A defense running this scheme also has the ability to blitz and stunt from almost any location in the defense, which can, among other things, confuse a rookie quarterback. This type of defense relies on fast defenders, but that usually means they are undersized.
So then, knowing all this, how do we attack such a defense? Well, there are two main areas of weakness with this defense: it can be soft against the run, and you are almost forced to employ man defense against the pass with it. I don't know about all of you, but that last sentence got me hard. Read that again, soft against the run. The Wildcat front 3 averages 270 pounds. The OSU O-line averages 310. Anybody else think Randle, Roland, and Smith are getting fired up right now? Oh, and that man defense on our receivers, mmmmmmm, makes we cream my panties.
We have to temper our raging hard on's by the fact that the stunts they use are made to confuse the line and especially young quarterbacks. Given all these facts though, I'm confident we win. Why you ask? Well, for one I personally think RichRod is a joke. For two, while most of these kids are new to us, they're not new to Arizona, they're Stoops recruits, and we have plenty of experience playing against those. How much success have they had against us over the past two years? Exactly. Going into this weekend we have to deal with PAC-10 refs, a late start time, and all 14000 fans that will be packed into Arizona Stadium, but this group of Cowboys knows how to win. As far as the late start, nothing will ever start later than that Tulsa fiasco last season, so that won't mean much.
Finally, some players to watch for on the Zona side this weekend:
Quarterback Matt Scott, running back Ka'Deem Carey, receivers Dan Buckner and Terrence Miller, linebacker (and PAC-12 defensive player of the week) Jake Fischer, safetys Marquis Flowers Jared Tevis, and linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson (yes, Sir is his first name. I know, it's a pretty stupid name).
Well that's it Cowboy fans, I think I'm a few dick jokes short of my norm, but other than that I hope you get something out of this.