Cats cookin' up game plan slowly

2010-12-27T00:00:00Z 2014-09-15T09:42:55Z Cats cookin' up game plan slowlyRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 27, 2010 12:00 am  • 

SAN ANTONIO - The Arizona Wildcats don't have a secret recipe or magic formula that will guarantee an upset in the Alamo Bowl.

They'd be wise to follow a Texas pitmaster's advice: slow and low.

Grind-it-out football has been known to tenderize tough teams, and No. 16 Oklahoma State is one of the most unwieldy hunks of meat the Wildcats have faced all season.

Don't be surprised if the UA (7-5) tries to establish the run and dominate time of possession when the teams meet Wednesday night at the Alamodome.

"We've been doing a little bit more this week, especially when we were back in Tucson," offensive tackle Adam Grant said Sunday. "I think our coaches definitely want to run the ball against these guys."

It won't be easy: Arizona averages just 135.2 rushing yards a game, figures that are eighth in the Pac-10 - ahead of only Oregon State and Washington State. Oklahoma State (10-2) boasts the Big 12 Conference's second-best rush defense, allowing 137.3 yards a game.

Still, Arizona figures to give the hard-nosed attack a try - if nothing else, it should keep Oklahoma State's vaunted offense on the sidelines.

"We've run the ball well when we wanted to," quarterback Nick Foles said. "You're not going to 'gash' one every play, but our running backs have made plays when they needed to, and that's because of our offensive line."

Physical domination at the line of scrimmage comes with a mental edge, co-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh said.

Establish your will with the run early, and you can torch safeties for deep passes later. Play with confidence and upsets happen.

"It's incredibly important" to run, Bedenbaugh said.

"Any time you can run the football - we haven't done it as well as we would've liked this year - but any time you can, it forces the safeties to get involved in the running game," he said.

"We've been effective enough running it to where people will bring them down and we can throw the ball over the top."

The "run, then gun" philosophy is part of the Stoops brothers' DNA. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops built a reputation behind a hybrid power-spread attack that was exciting and intimidating. Brother Mike has done the same at Arizona - with varying degrees of success.

In fact, OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young said Sunday that Arizona is "very similar to the University of Oklahoma."

"There's some other teams out there that they run some plays like, but if you look at them from top to bottom they're a power running football team with two running backs and a tight end. Then they'll get in some one-back set. In particular, when they get in a four-receiver set they throw the ball quite a bit and put it down the field. They do a tremendous job."

Junior Keola Antolin is expected to start against the Cowboys, with a healthier Nicolas Grigsby and Greg Nwoko receiving some snaps as change-of-pace backs. Grigsby is the wild card; the combustible senior says he's fully recovered from a string of ankle injuries that derailed a once-promising career. Though Grigsby defines himself mostly as a specialist, he stands to benefit from the indoor game and artificial turf as much as anybody on the team. Grigsby said he "had my head down for a couple of weeks," feeling partly responsible for the Wildcats' losing streak - specifically the Territorial Cup loss to Arizona State. The prospect of redeeming himself in a bowl game snapped Grigsby out of his funk.

"We're going to do what's helping us," he said. "If running the ball is helping, we're going to run the ball. If throwing the ball is going to win us the game, then we're going to throw the ball. That's basically the way it is."

On StarNet: Watch UA's offense talk about strategy from San Antonio


• What: Arizona (7-5) vs. Oklahoma State (10-2)

• When: 7:15 p.m. Wednesday

• TV, radio: ESPN, 1290-AM, 1490-AM, 107.5-FM

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 4 0 0.714
USC 6 3 0 0.667 9 4 0 0.692
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 13 2 0 0.867
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 8 5 0 0.615
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 6 0 0.571
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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