Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tucson Citizen: UA challenge: Match Cal offense

The University of Arizona football team's improving offense might have to score a lot of points to hang with an explosive California squad on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.  But can the Wildcats beat the No. 6 Golden Bears in the game, which begins at 3 p.m., if it's a shootout? "I don't know if we can score big numbers. I would like to think that 27 (points) would have been good enough last week to win," Arizona coach Mike Stoops said, referring to Saturday night's 29-27 loss to New Mexico.  "I don't know if it would be realistic to go up there and score 40-some points.  "Hopefully we can control the football and control the time and limit their touches. (Cal is) a hard team to slow down, but we are going to have to."

Unless the struggling UA defense can play more aggressively, quarterback Willie Tuitama and the offense will have to keep up with the California offense.  The Golden Bears average 40 points and 436 total yards per game, and Arizona ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring defense (24 points per game) and passing defense (267 yards per game). "I definitely think we have the offense, and we have the players to go out there and make plays," Tuitama said. "We have guys all over the place. As long as we do a good job of giving them the ball, then we should be OK." After a sluggish opener against Brigham Young, UA has piled up more than 400 total yards in consecutive games, a feat not accomplished since the 2003 season. A third 400-yard game in a row would be the first time that has happened since 2001.

The California coaching staff is aware of UA's success under new offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. "They are spreading it out and throwing the ball," Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford said. "Willie does a nice job of throwing the ball. He is a threat. There is no question they can score and do some things. We are going to have to be very disciplined on defense." The Wildcats rank 101st nationally in rushing at 88 yards per game but are 14th in passing at 321.3 yards per game.

"(Tuitama) is tough and has a great arm," Tedford said. "He has as good of an arm as there is in the conference. He is a very tough guy in the pocket."

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