Wildcats looking to get ground game on track
TUCSON, Ariz. – It’s expected to be another air show in Arizona Stadium on Saturday night. Passes galore and yards in the few hundreds by No. 18 Oregon State and Arizona, the Pac-12 Conference’s two best passing games.
For Arizona, which struggled to run the ball last week against Oregon, it won't be because they don't want to run. It's just that it won't come easy against a Beavers defense that is the second stingiest in the FBS in rushing defense -- giving up 53.5 yards per game. Arizona is coming off an 89-yard game against Oregon.
“We’re just going to move forward, and I think that’s real easy after what happened on Saturday,’’ said Arizona sophomore back Ka’Deem Carey, who provided a small ray of light last week by rushing for 84 yards on 21 carries.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is looking for “more explosive plays,’’ and he’ll take them from anywhere.
The Wildcats were forced to rely more on the passing attack last week as their deficit mounted in the second half, but Rodriguez also pointed to a lack of “push up front” by the offensive line.
“Some of it was their pressure and some of the looks they gave us forced us to throw,’’ Rodriguez said. “We just didn’t get enough of a push. And we had a couple of busted assignments as well.’’
Rodriguez continues to insit the Wildcats will be good in the running game. "We’ll keep working on it,’’ he said.
The Wildcat had success on the ground in their first three games -- all wins -- running for 323 yards in a 56-0 blowout of South Carolina State, 181 against Oklahoma State and 237 against Toledo.
“Overall, the running game has been consistent, but we also have things we can approve upon,” junior running back Daniel Jenkins said. “As the season goes on, I think we can be a lot better and we can improve drastically.
“In watching film as a team, we saw what we did wrong. We know what we need to correct. We made too many mistakes. We just got to get those things cleaned up and sharpened up.’’
Carey is the key. He enters Saturday’s game averaging 105.8 yards. No Wildcat has averaged more than 100 yards per game since Clarence Farmer in 2001 (111.7).
Carey described himself as the more physical half of Arizona's running back tandem, the type of runner who can wear the opponent down, while Jenkins counters with quickness and shiftiness.
“We’ve just got to put it together and have the frontline open holes and push us,’’ Carey said. “Once that comes along I think it’ll be great.’’
Easier said than done against an opponent like Oregon State, but Saturday is another night to try.