TUCSON - If Arizona thought it had enough problems, now the Wildcats must devise a way to stop California Heisman candidate DeSean Jackson & Co. UA's veteran defense, touted before the season as one of the Pac-10's best units, ranks eighth in scoring and passing defense in the conference after a 29-27 loss to New Mexico on Saturday. The roles are reversed - UA's once-dormant offense ranks first in passing in the Pac-10 - but the Wildcats can't afford to get into a shootout Saturday when they travel to Berkeley, Calif., for their Pac-10 opener. UA coach Mike Stoops, under pressure to deliver a winner in his fourth season, must shore up his defense for the Wildcats (1-2) to bounce back. "We have to make sure we're not getting soft, and our execution is not getting off," Stoops said. "Those are things you worry about."
Stoops hinted there would be more hitting in practice this week, with both starting units scrimmaging against each other. Usually, the first-teamers face scout units to limit injuries. "We have not done much good and I don't know . . . we have to go back to practice and really work our defense," Stoops said. "That's what we do in camp and in the spring. We have not done it a lot in the last month." Arizona's defense has relied too much on arm-tackling in games, with the Wildcats ranking 94th nationally in pass defense, allowing 267.3 yards per game. The Wildcats are 23rd nationally in rushing defense, but giving up 24 points and 352 yards per game is not exactly what was expected from a unit returning 10 starters and talked about going from being a good defense to a great one. "Defensively we have not played nearly as well as we have needed to win and that really has been disappointing and hard to figure out," said Stoops, who earned his reputation as a defensive genius as an assistant at Oklahoma. Answers are needed quickly, with Cal averaging 40.3 points per game, and 371 total yards.