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Friday, September 22nd 2006

Preview: Arizona

Someone Actually Made A Wildcats Highlight Video?!

USC is dealing with Reggiegate and injuries. Arizona with a Stoops at the helm (not that that is worth much right now), is trying to dig itself out of the dregs of the PAC 10. A Wildcat victory would be one of the biggest victories in the program history.

With that said however, expect that the most interesting thing at the game on Saturday will be the Arizona co-eds.

“Hey There. I’m Going To Be A Doctor…”
Works Every Time

The hyperbole on the internet (not that there is a terrible lot of interest in this matchup), seems to be that the Wildcats are about to get their behinds handed to them on both sides of the ball. I’d like to be able to say, I disagree or “we better not get too cocky,” but I just can’t imginae USC not turning Wildcat stadium into a slaughterhouse. Well, with the ending given away let us get down to the meat.

Arizona Offense v. USC Defense

Arizona offense is one word Tuitama. That is the one and only bright spot on a unit that has otherwise looked horrific (especially last week). Arizona eeked out a win against what has proven to be an effective BYU team. They did it however with less than 3 ypc. And BYU isn’t exactly an SEC caliber defense.

At the same time USC was beating a top 25 team 28 – 10, Arizona managed the same score against meek I-AA Stephen F. Austin (way to represent Texas!)

If Arizona is going to have a shot in this game they’re going to win it by taking advantage of oppurtunities on offense that Trojan mistakes might create. And they’re going to smack the Trojans in the mouth early through the air. To do that however, Tuitama is going to have to have time,

Keeping the sophomore quarterback upright and able will be perhaps the offense’s biggest challenge Saturday against the deep and formidable front seven of No. 3 USC, which so far this season has shuffled through top-tier talent like Jay-Z’s iPod.

USC’s impressive personnel will test a Wildcat offensive line that has shown only flashes of consistency with three redshirt freshmen playing significant roles.

With starters Eben Britton (right tackle) and Blake Kerley (center) getting their first career action and right guard Daniel Borg filling out the team’s six-man rotation, Arizona allowed Tuitama to be sacked five times in the team’s first two games.

The most notable hits came on the first offensive series against No. 10 Louisiana State on Sept. 9.

Tigers defensive end Tyson Jackson cut through the line before Tuitama’s first pass and drilled the sophomore with a helmet-to-helmet hit that gave him a concussion and caused him to miss three days of practice the following week.

Expect LoJack and the USC linebacking corp to have at least as much success as the touted LSU defense. And this is without Sedrick Ellis, once again.

Tuitama is talented and the recieving corp isn’t drop happy. Nebraska for some strange reason decided there was no purpose in testing freshman safety Taylor Mays deep last week. Only God can explain that decision and I suppose there’s a good chunk of reasoning to some of the sophistry out in the Trojan blogosphere about the secondary having to step up this week.

I for one have faith in them. But beyond that, I think this Arizona offensive line is soooo bad, and even without Ellis so over matched by the stunts Holt and Carroll are going to have the front seven pull, that Tuitama is going to be on his back every time Arizona tries to take a deep shot. As well Tuitama is off a recent concussion.

This offensive line is a ‘work in progress’ to say the least. And the running game they’re blocking for isn’t exactly SuperPrep. The former walk on who is starting at tailback against the Trojans has had a scholarship for approximately two weeks (!)

Let’s See…At 210 Yards Per Game My New Scholarship Works Out To $1,135 Per Yard!

I think despite Jennings performance against S.F. Austin and Tuitama’s concussion, Arizona is going to come out with the short and intermediate passing game. Willie is going to get more than his fair share of throws. Of course, the talent level is too great for ‘Zona to try to slant and out their way down the field. They’re going to have to take shots…and probably early. If Jackson and that linebacking corp are hanging on Tuitama in the first quarter, as I suspect, it will be a long day for the Wildcat offense.

Not that it will matter, but if the curse of injuries catches up with USC during the game…well there isn’t much to worry about,

Since training camp, USC lost six starters and one-part time starter to injuries: Fullbacks Brandon Hancock and Ryan Powdrell, cornerback Kevin Thomas, safety Josh Pinkard, nose guard Sedrick Ellis, offensive guard Jeff Byers and linebacker Oscar Lua.

But the Trojans appear unaffected, thanks to years of compiling some of the nation’s top recruiting classes. So far, USC seems immune from the devastating effects of injuries.

And in Carroll’s opinion, the Trojans might emerge even stronger at some positions as the replacements gain valuable experience.

“I thought all along this would be our deepest team,” Carroll said.”Hopefully it will perform at the highest level. I don’t know the answer to that yet. But I don’t think people on the outside recognized our depth.”

I’m expecting right around 200 yards of total offense for Arizona and better than 2.8 ypc but less than 4.0.

USC Offense v. Arizona Defense

If you’re looking for Kiffin & Co. to let Booty get his feet wet throwing the ball downfield. Well this may be it. With Stanley Havili looking to start at FB…probably…

By all reports, Stanley Havili is a superb freshman who has the ability to run, catch and block, not unlike the two guys he is succeeding. I believe that USC will utilize Stanley, in much the same way they had planned to utilize the two injured guys. Obviously his ability to block and know the offense is somewhat less than his predecessors, but if Ryan Powdrell was a quick study, there is no reason to think that Stanley can’t handle the job as well. Freshmen have been given as much as they can handle since Pete has been here, so I have to believe that process will continue with a great talent like Stanley.

When using Mike Brittingham, there will certainly be some limitations, but he is a smart, tough kid who can be a reasonably effective blocker at times. To keep the defense honest, I would not be surprised to see Mike also get an occasional carry or ball thrown to him. As for Luther Brown, I think he will be a non-factor unless yet another injury hits the current kids.

And of course, I also think SC will utilize more 2 and perhaps 3 tight end sets. SC is blessed with guys like Dale Thompson, Fred Davis, Jimmy Miller and the great young talent, Anthony McCoy. If any team can overcome the loss of a Brandon Hancock and Ryan Powdrell, USC is just that squad.

…use a lot of three WR and two TE sets. Which is fine by me. It isn’t like clock managment will be a big issue in this game. If John David Booty comes out throwing 35+ passes I’d be comfortable with that, with even a cursory glance at the the ‘Zona secondary.

Still, the secondary may be one of the ‘strongest’ components of the Wildcat defense. Certainly CB Cason (along with Tuitama) are the Wildcat’s premiere players. As Rivals (subscription) points out the defensive line is atrocious with virtually no pass rush and an abysmal showing trying to stop LSU’s running game.

The Wildcats’ rush defense stats look okay, but BYU and Steven F. Austin aren’t exactly rushing juggernauts, and LSU punished them on the ground. Their pass rush has been almost non-existent. After getting three sacks against BYU, they have only one in the past two games. Even the addition of Louis Holmes, who got two sacks against BYU, hasn’t seemed to help much.

They seem to think Stoops will resort to complex zone schemes to try to confuse JDB, even after watching his nearly error free performances against Arkansas and Nebraska. I disagree and think he’s going to blitz early.

USC’s rushing attack has proved a little bit of a work in progress. I beliefve despite the talent of Washington and Moody and Gable, the USC rushing attack right now probably isn’t up to LSU’s. That might be a controversial statement, but it’s my feeling USC will throw the ball early. Watch for Jarrett to try to repeat his line against Nebraska and with single back/2 TE sets for Fred Davis to get his touches. I may be completely wrong about that with Cason and the Arizona secondary clearly being the defense’s strongest line.


USC is on a loooong PAC 10 win streak. I’m with all the college football pundits on this one, USC runs away with it.

If the Wildcats thought their trip two weeks ago to LSU was ultimate misery and humiliation, wait until they get a load of the Trojans.

This is the young against the restless.

USC 42 – Arizona 17