ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Cats' pass defense has become just average

2010-11-09T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T19:29:21Z Cats' pass defense has become just averageRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 09, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Exactly one hour after the Arizona Wildcats' 42-17 loss to Stanford, Trevin Wade took to Twitter to vent his frustration.

"I don't know what's going on this year … 3 games, I promise I'll get it together in Jesus' name."

And, Lord, Arizona could use the help.

The UA's pass defense has become perfectly average after a strong start to the season. The Wildcats (7-2, 4-2) are 60th out of 120 schools nationally when it comes to opponents' quarterback rating, 125.56. They're allowing 209 passing yards per game, the 49th-best mark in the nation.

Wade, a preseason all-conference and third-team All-American at cornerback, embodies Arizona's problems. Through nine games, Wade has registered just 30 tackles, one interception - a return for a touchdown against Iowa - and two pass breakups.

Coaches benched the junior for true freshman Shaquille Richardson shortly after Wade got beat by Cardinal receiver Chris Owusu for a 45-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of Saturday's blowout.

"It just hasn't been a typical year for him," UA coach Mike Stoops said Monday.

"Sometimes you get in a slump, and it's hard to get out of. You have to work your way out of it, practice your way out of it. He hasn't had the production we're used to seeing from him. Those are technical things, things you need to be working on to give yourself a chance out there. He's just got to keep working."

Stoops did not name a starter for Saturday's game against USC but made it clear he likes Richardson's upside. Despite starting just one game, the freshman has two interceptions and four breakups, both more than Wade. Richardson has forced a fumble and recovered one; Wade hasn't done either.

"Shaquille's a guy who we're going to try to develop," he said. "In no, way, shape or form is (Saturday's loss) on Trevin. There were a ton of misplayed plays in that game Saturday night."

Scott still out; other UA standouts hurting

Backup quarterback Matt Scott will miss his second straight game as he recovers from a sprained right wrist, but three of Arizona's other standouts are likely to play with their injuries.

Scott injured his wrist in the second half of Arizona's Oct. 30 win over UCLA. He was limited in practice all last week and did not dress for the Wildcats' loss to Stanford.

"His long-term prognosis, I don't know what it will be beyond this week," Stoops said.

Starting quarterback Nick Foles felt better Monday, two days after suffering a deep bruise to his left shoulder.

Tailback Nicolas Grigsby and wide receiver Juron Criner are both expected to play with sprained ankles. Grigsby was hurt against UCLA and re-aggravated the injury on his only carry against the Cardinal.

"He tried to cut, and it just wasn't where he wanted it to be," Stoops said.

Criner's injury "has been kind of an ongoing thing with him, too," Stoops said. Criner likely won't practice at all this week.

Cats-ULL matchup was set in March

At first glance, Arizona's decision to play Louisiana-Lafayette Nov. 26 of next season appeared to be a byproduct of Pac-12 scheduling.

Not so, said UA football operations director Erick Harper. Arizona and the Ragin' Cajuns agreed on the date in March, long before the Wildcats' 2011 Pac-12 schedule was announced.

"After talking back and forth with different schools, they're the ones we kept getting back to," Harper said.

Arizona will play 12 games in 13 weeks, starting with a Sept. 3 game against NAU and ending with the nonconference tilt against ULL. The Wildcats will have just one bye, on Oct. 15.

"That's life in the Pac-10 - we schedule the nine conference games, and we always have one top-20 team out of conference," Stoops said. "We'll just deal with it next year."

The Cajuns are 0-3 all-time against the conference, losing by a combined score of 184-34. Arizona State defeated them 63-27 in 2001, and Washington State handed them losses of 77-7 in 1997 and 44-0 in 1999.

Extra points

• The UA's defensive stat sheet against Stanford was "about as clean as I've ever seen," Stoops said.

And that's a bad thing - the Wildcats didn't finish with a pass breakup, interception or sack, and had just one tackle-for-loss.

"That tells the story right there, how difficult it was for us defensively," he said.

• Arizona's 25-point loss to Stanford was its worst regular-season loss since Sept. 9, 2006, when LSU rolled the Cats 45-3 in Baton Rouge, La. The UA played most of that game without quarterback Willie Tuitama, who suffered a concussion on the game's first play.

Up next

• What: USC at Arizona

• When: 6 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Channel 9

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

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