Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tucson Citizen: Wildcat defenders hope for breather

But this week's opponent, Cal, has a high-powered offense
Arizona's defense hopes for another long breather against No. 8 California. The defense stood on the sideline much of the fourth quarter in Saturday's 27-17 victory at Washington State. That was out of the norm for a unit that has been relied on heavily this season, with the offense struggling. The offense, for a change, controlled the clock. Arizona held possession for more than 35 minutes against the Cougars. "When the offense keeps the defense off the field, it takes a lot of pressure off of us," Arizona safety Michael Johnson said. "A team is going to have to drive 80 yards in order to score a touchdown," the senior from Austin, Texas, added, "and most of the time they are not going to be able to do that."
In the fourth quarter, the offense controlled the clock for 11 minutes and ran 17 plays to Washington State's four. Extra time to rest would be a bonus for the defense Saturday with California, an offensive juggernaut, as the opponent.
The Golden Bears average 36 points and 440 yards a game.
Get the QB
UA sacks leader Louis Holmes said the Wildcats used a simpler pass rush against Washington State. It worked. Look for a similar approach against Cal. "We just went after the quarterback. It made it a lot easier," Holmes said. "You don't have as much to think about other than pass rusher. I'm pretty good at pass rushing, all the 'D' linemen are good at pass rushing. "When you are thinking about the run, it sometimes slows your footsteps down." Arizona had four sacks against the Cougars and hurried the quarterback more than a few times.
By the numbers
0 Points Arizona scored against Cal the past two years.
12 Bears tailback Marshawn Lynch needs that number to reach the 1,000-yard plateau for the season.
27 Arizona's national ranking in run defense. It will try to show why it is strong vs. the run against Marshawn Lynch, who leads the Pac-10 in rushing.
64 Percent of passes completed by Cal quarterback Nate Longshore in Pac-10 play.

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