The Bears are Roaring: Arizona Previews
“How do you defend against [archnemesis/former Texas Tech OC’s Sonny Dykes’s spread] offense?
1. You must limit yards after the catch. When this offense racks up 40+ points, it is due to big gains off short passes. Think of how the Patriots used Wes Welker (who played at Texas Tech) last season, hitting him in stride all over the field. How do you limit these yards? There is only one way, and it’s got very little to do with scheme or coaching: fast, athletic linebackers. If you have quick, rangy linebackers, the receivers will get stopped dead in their tracks. If you don’t, this offense will run your defense ragged. Cal really didn’t have that kind of quickness versus Tech in 2004, and it made it hard to stop them.
2. You must have success with disguised, well-timed blitzes, preferably zone blitzes. Arizona’s spread is a bit more susceptible to the blitz than the Tech spread because they do not subsist entirely on short passes. They will look deep, and they do run the ball occasionally. But with 5 options to throw to, a good QB like Tuitama is going to burn a blitz if he sees it coming.
3. Punish the receivers for catching the ball. This offense needs receivers to catch over the middle to be truly effective and spread the defense out. A couple huge hits can cause receivers to be hesitant or drop balls, which kills the timing and rhythm of the offense.
4. Keep your offense on the field as long as possible. This offense can score alarmingly fast, so no lead is really safe. But it can also go 3 and out in 10 seconds. If you can make them pay by keeping them off the field, it disrupts their rhythm.”
“If Cal can successfully run the ball tomorrow against Arizona, it is very difficult for me to see them losing against Arizona, barring any costly turnovers. In their two losses this season, Arizona has given up 507 yards on the ground rushing the ball. They face a Cal offense that is currently 3rd in the conference in rushing yards per game, averaging 180.0 yards on the ground. Cal shouldn’t get too excited just yet however, as the commonality in the two rushing attacks that Zona stuggled against were power running games with both Stanford backs Toby Gerhart and Rodney Ferguson of New Mexico, topping out over 230 pounds.
Neither of Cal’s featured backs in Jahvid Best or Shane Vereen even break up the 200 lb. mark, so breaking tackles and moving piles won’t really be a big part of Cal’s rushing strategy. However, if Cal’s offensive line can control the line of scrimmage and open up enough holes for Best or Vereen to break into the second level, it might be a long day for the Arizona defense. Cal’s run blocking struggled mightily in the second half of the Arizona State, as the Sun Devils’ defense keyed in on the run as the Bears nursed a lead. They need to reestablish themselves as a unit against the Wildcats Saturday, and with Arizona’s lack of depth at the defensive tackle position, it might just the place to do it.”
“Historical implications aside, Tuitama has stepped up his game even further this season, tossing just two picks to 13 touchdowns. His accuracy has also steadily improved, and the senior trails only USC’s Mark Sanchez for the conference’s top mark in passer rating with 152.2. “You can really see that his comfort level has grown,” Tedford said. Arizona’s bevy of downfield options has only helped Tuitama notch his impressive stats. Wideout Mike Thomas, who went for 1,038 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2007, returned for his senior campaign and has maintained his status as the quarterback’s main draw this season. Terrell Turner and Delashaun Dean have also emerged as steady targets for the Wildcats, while tight end Rob Gronkowski (five touchdowns) also merits mention as one of the best in the nation at his position.”
“With Best likely to return to action this week, Arizona will have a big challenge on Saturday as it tries to stop the Golden Bear running attack, especially considering that the Wildcat defense gave up 286 yards to Stanford last weekend. “I’m sure they’ll see that on tape and see, ‘Hey, we got to try and run the ball on them and get some big plays in the run game,'” said UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “We’re gonna have our hands full.” The California defense, ranked in the top 27 nationally in total yards allowed per game (290.6) and points allowed per game (18.0), also has a difficult job ahead. The Sonny Dykes version of the spread offesne creates favorable matchups for Arizona. It could be tough for the Wildcats this weekend, however, if Cal’s defensive line is as disruptive as in recent games. The Golden Bears have 13 sacks through five games. But Cal head coach Jeff Tedford sees this weekend’s Arizona game as a huge test.”
- None Found