UA forcing a punt would be nice

2010-10-11T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T19:24:25Z UA forcing a punt would be niceRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 11, 2010 12:00 am  • 

During the second half of Arizona's 29-27 loss to Oregon State on Saturday, coach Mike Stoops turned and yelled three words to no one in particular: "Do your job!"

Stoops might have well been speaking to the Arizona Wildcats' entire defense.

In a span of three hours, the UA went from the nation's No. 2-ranked defense to a Pac-10 pincushion. The Wildcats surrendered more touchdowns in one night (four) than they had in the first four games combined (three).

OSU quarterback Ryan Katz, a first-year starter with a 2-2 career record, played like a cross between Drew Brees and Willie Beamen of "Any Given Sunday" - even after star receiver James Rodgers left the game with an injury.

"We didn't look sharp, and that's what we need to work on getting back to where we were a couple weeks ago," Stoops said.

We present something the Wildcats defense didn't see much of last weekend - a three-and out. Here's what the 17th-ranked Wildcats need to do if they hope to improve on Saturday night's shellacking:

First

Stop the pass. Katz torched Arizona's secondary, completing 30 of 42 passes for 393 yards and two touchdowns.

The Beavers threw for 200 more yards than their average of 185.8 yards and 125 fewer than Arizona allowed to its first four opponents combined.

The UA defensive secondary seemed unprepared for the onslaught; a first-quarter leg injury suffered by cornerback Trevin Wade didn't help things, either.

"Defensively, we couldn't get a stop to save our lives," co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown said. "It wasn't any one coverage they beat us on. Each week, you have a challenge presented to you and you have to come out and play. We were just outexecuted."

Stoops and his staff will re-evaluate their scheme heading into this week's game against Washington State. Arizona has played more man-to-man coverage and blitzed more this season, leading to more one-on-one matchups between cornerbacks and receivers. Stoops could mix up the look to take the pressure off his corners.

"The corners are on an island a lot," he said. "We need to look at getting them some help. It's tough to be out there consistently."

Second

Avoid the big play. Oregon State gashed the Cats for large chunks of yards. Katz hit receiver Markus Wheaton for a 48-yard score, and connected with Joe Halahuni, James Rodgers and Jordan Bishop for plays of 30 yards or more. Tailback Jacquizz Rodgers registered an 18-yard run; Katz even got into the act, gaining 17 yards of his own on a third-down sneak.

"It's one thing if they execute and do some things extremely well," linebacker Paul Vassallo said. "But to do our job on the back end and have him take the ball and run … it's very frustrating."

Arizona's first four opponents averaged 3.89 yards per play; Saturday, the Beavers averaged 6.3.

"We can't come out and play haphazardly," Stoops said. "We're not that type of team."

Third

Make stops on third down. Arizona tries to limit opponents to a third-down conversion rate of 35 percent. Saturday, the percentage was 67 - Oregon State converted 10 of 15 third downs, lengthening drives and frustrating an already-tired UA defense. OSU dominated time of possession, controlling the ball for 36 minutes 23 seconds.

Wade said the Wildcats "got to stay disciplined, and guard your man until the whistle blows" on third downs.

Luckily, the Wildcats defense will get more opportunities to prove itself. Arizona may not be as good as its No. 2 national rating had indicated, but it's better than it showed Saturday.

"We know what we need to," Vassallo said.

Up next

• What: Arizona at Washington St.

• When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Versus

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

AP TOP 25

With first-place votes in parentheses, records through Oct. 9 and previous ranking.

1. Ohio St. (34) 6-0 2

2. Oregon (15) 6-0 3

3. Boise St. (8) 5-0 4

4. TCU (1) 6-0 5

5. Nebraska 5-0 7

6. Oklahoma (2) 5-0 6

7. Auburn 6-0 8

8. Alabama 5-1 1

9. LSU 6-0 12

10. South Carolina 4-1 19

11. Utah 5-0 10

12. Arkansas 4-1 11

13. Michigan St. 6-0 17

14. Stanford 5-1 16

15. Iowa 4-1 15

16. Florida St. 5-1 23

17. Arizona 4-1 9

18. Wisconsin 5-1 20

19. Nevada 6-0 21

20. Oklahoma St. 5-0 22

21. Missouri 5-0 24

22. Florida 4-2 14

23. Air Force 5-1 25

24. Oregon St. 3-2 -

25. West Virginia 4-1 -

Others receiving votes: Michigan 137, Miami 63, N.C. State 31, Virginia Tech 17, Northwestern 5, Texas 5, Kansas St. 1.

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