Arizona football: Polk is latest to test Cats

2011-10-28T00:01:00Z 2014-09-15T10:21:09Z Arizona football: Polk is latest to test CatsRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 28, 2011 12:01 am  • 

Robert Golden was a high school star when, in 2007, he attended the prestigious B2G Elite Camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

There, the budding Arizona Wildcats safety met his roommate, a prospect from Redlands, Calif., named Chris Polk.

"He was a wide receiver out of high school," Golden with a grin. "When they moved him to running back, it kind of surprised me."

Polk has since become the Pac-12 Conference's embodiment of a sure thing. Washington's junior tailback leads the conference with 872 rushing yards. He is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has scored five touchdowns in the Huskies' first seven games. Last weekend, he tied a UW record with his 17th 100-yard game.

If Arizona hopes to upset the Huskies in Seattle on Saturday, it'll have to stop Polk. The 5-foot-11-inch, 222-pound back is "probably as strong or as physical a back as we have in this league," UA interim coach Tim Kish said.

"I think he's a fantastic running back," Kish added. "He's a physical, hard runner. He has a knack for finding a hole. We haven't seen a back like him, per se, this year, to be honest with you."

Which, given how poorly Arizona has played against the run, is a scary thought.

The UA is allowing 173.3 rushing yards per game, a figure that ranks 10th in the Pac-12 and 78th nationally.

Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle, a lightning bug of a back, rushed for 121 yards on 15 carries against the UA in Week 2. Stanford's Stepfan Taylor put up a career-high 153 yards on 22 totes; a week later, Oregon's LaMichael James ran for a school-record 288 yards.

Even backups have run wild against the Cats: Oregon State's Jovan Stevenson, a Sunnyside High School product who started the season buried on the depth chart, put up a career-high 99 yards in the Beavers' 37-27 win earlier this month.

Despite their defensive struggles, the Wildcats are confident they can slow down one of the nation's top rushers. Kish summoned the double-eagle flex front in last week's win over UCLA, and the Bruins rushed for just 37 yards.

The UA's interim coach would not say whether the flex look is back for good. Linebacker Paul Vassallo said the threat of a new front "gives the offenses more to prepare for, and that's never fun."

Regardless of which front they use, the Wildcats are going to need to bring a desert swarm Saturday.

Polk is too big and strong to stop by himself.

"He's a premier back in our league," UA cornerback Trevin Wade said. "You've just got to gang-tackle him and don't let go."

Up next

• What: Arizona at Washington

• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: FSAZ

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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Pac-12 South football standings

Team W L T PCT
Utah 6 1 0 0.857
Arizona 6 1 0 0.857
ASU 6 1 0 0.857
UCLA 6 2 0 0.750
USC 5 3 0 0.625
Colorado 3 5 0 0.375

Pac-12 North football standings

Team W L T PCT
Oregon 7 1 0 0.875
Stanford 5 3 0 0.625
Washington 5 3 0 0.625
Oregon State 4 3 0 0.571
Cal 4 4 0 0.500
Washington State 2 6 0 0.250
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