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Arizona football: Cats face a tall, and big, order

Cowboys' size not only obstacle Arizona must overcome to win
2012-09-08T00:00:00Z 2014-10-10T11:29:15Z Arizona football: Cats face a tall, and big, orderRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 08, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Oklahoma State's starting five offensive linemen come from Webb City, Mo.; Cape Coral, Fla.; and three cities - Killeen, McKinney and Arlington - in Texas. Together, they tip the scales at exactly 1,553 pounds. The five would be considered heavy if they weren't also so tall, an average of 6 feet 4 1/2 inches of rippling orange and black per player .

Forget the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Parker Graham, Jonathan Rush, Evan Epstein, Lane Taylor and Daniel Koenig are five Cowboys who could flatten you.

How the Arizona Wildcats handle the front - if they can at all - will be the difference in tonight's game. The UA (1-0) will will face 18th-ranked OSU (1-0) tonight at Arizona Stadium with a distinct size - and, possibly, talent - disadvantage.

It starts up front. The Cowboys' starting offensive linemen are an average of 1 1/2 inches taller and 41.3 pounds heavier than Arizona's defensive line.

"They're huge," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Unless there's a magic pill to make our guys bigger - there's nothing legal anyway … we are going to be outsized. We're going to be outmanned a little bit, but we're going to be like that in every game."

To stop the Cowboys, who scored 84 points in last week's opening win over Savannah State, the Wildcats must:

• Stuff the run. Joseph Randle might be the most talented running back Arizona faces all year. While quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon received most of the attention when the teams met last fall in Stillwater, Okla., Randle might have posted the best game.

He torched UA for 121 rushing yards on 15 carries; he scored two touchdowns, one of them coming after he bulldozed Arizona's Marquis Flowers at the goal line.

"I know personally what (Randle) presents, because he got me last year," said Flowers, now a UA starting linebacker. "I've been waiting for this game for a long time. It's going to be a dogfight in there."

• Pressure the quarterback. OSU's Wes Lunt completed 11 of 11 passes for 129 yards in his first college game last week. Given time, the true freshman could put up big numbers again tonight.

The Wildcats' smaller, faster defense will try to get Lunt out of rhythm with a little pressure. The approach worked last week, when the UA posted two sacks - more than twice its 0.83 sacks-per-game average from a year ago - and forced one fumble. The Wildcats need to do the same or better tonight to have a chance.

• Force turnovers. The Wildcats lost last weekend's turnover battle, a main reason they needed overtime to defeat a Toledo team that they had thoroughly outgained and outclassed.

The Week 1 performance - Arizona fumbled twice and threw and interception, all in Toledo territory - won't fly against OSU, or most of the UA's remaining opponents.

"We try it and we work on it with drills in practice," Rodriguez said.

"Hey, any way we can get a stop - whether it's a turnover, penalties help or they make a mistake. A stop for us is good. Even if they have a 10-play drive, they stop and don't score and miss a field goal, for us that's a win."

Offensively, the Wildcats will try to build off a solid Week 1 performance. Quarterback Matt Scott paced a 624-yard performance.

The UA threw more times (47) than it ran (41) against Toledo, a hint - perhaps - that its new offense will more resemble its old one than the run-first attack that Rodriguez popularized at Michigan and West Virginia. But turnovers and John Bonano's two missed field goals kept the Rockets close.

TODAY

• What: Oklahoma St. at Arizona

• When: 7:30 p.m.

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
UCLA 6 2 0 0.750 9 2 0 0.818
ASU 6 2 0 0.750 9 2 0 0.818
Arizona 6 2 0 0.750 9 2 0 0.818
USC 6 3 0 0.667 7 4 0 0.636
Utah 4 4 0 0.500 7 4 0 0.636
Colorado 0 8 0 0.000 2 9 0 0.182

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Oregon 7 1 0 0.875 10 1 0 0.909
Stanford 4 4 0 0.500 6 5 0 0.545
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 6 0 0.455
Oregon State 2 5 0 0.286 5 5 0 0.500
Washington 2 5 0 0.286 6 5 0 0.545
Washington State 2 6 0 0.250 3 8 0 0.273
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