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OPPONENT PREVIEW: Arizona Wildcats

Head Coach:  Mike Stoops

Record: 5-2 (3-1)

Offense: 30.0 PPG, 6.2 YPP

Washington State will face another talented offense this week in the Arizona Wildcats.  Since Mike Stoops handed over the offense to quarterback Nick Foles, the passing game has flourished, as Foles has completed a ridiculous 72.3 percent of his passes.  Take that number with a small grain of salt however, as the team does rely heavily on the screen pass and quick throws to the outside.  Nevertheless, it has been much more effective with Foles in charge.  Foles doesn't appear to have any specific favorite pass catcher, as four different receivers have grabbed at least 25 balls this season.

The Wildcat running game has been a big weapon for Stoops so far this season.  Overall, Arizona is averaging 5.46 yards per carry and has rushed for 12 touchdowns.  Junior Nic Grigsby leads the way on the ground with 535 yards rushing, five touchdowns, and a 7.54 yards per carry average.  However, Grigsby and freshman running back Greg Nwoko are banged up this week and may or may not see time.  Look for Keola Antolin, who is also coming back from injury recently, to get the major share of the carries.  On the season he has carried 49 times for 5.20 ypc.

It should be the same old story, as Arizona should easily outclass the Cougs in terms of speed.  Look for a lot of quick passes to the outside to take advantage of that and don't be surprised if the Cougar defensive line is manhandled once again in the run game.

The most interesting stat I came across?  Arizona has only returned three punts ALL SEASON for a total of negative one yards.  The opponents have punted 32 times.

Defense: 24.1 PPG, 5.1 YPP

On defense, the Wildcats have been decent against the run, giving up 3.58 yards per carry.  Overall, they are an average unit which will most likely look above average on Saturday.  Arizona forces two turnovers a game, and has eight interceptions on the year.

The leading tacklers for Arizona are senior linebacker Xavier Kelley with 47, defensive back Cam Nelson with 44 and linebacker Vina Tuihalamaka with 44.  On the defensive line, junior Ricky Elmore leads the way with 5.5 sacks, and senior Earl Mitchell has 3.5 sacks to go with 2.0 tackles for loss.  Overall, they've done a pretty good job putting pressure on the quarterback, garnering 2.57 sacks per game.

The Wildcat defense is an experienced group.  Against UCLA last Saturday, they started seven seniors, two juniors and two sophomores.  It will probably be the case once again where men are greater than boys.

One more fun fact that I came across: The leader tacklers for both Arizona and Washington State are named Xavier.

The Wildcats are in trouble if:  The defense gives up too many yards in the passing game to the Cougs.  The Washington State defense tackles well, limiting the effectiveness of the quick  passes and bubble screens.  Arizona turns the ball over at least six times.  If all that happens, we could have a close game on our hands!

From the other side ...

For this week's interview with the opponent, Nuss caught up with his old coworker at, Anthony Gimino. AG has covered the Wildcats off an on -- mostly on -- for the last 20 or so years, and has a blog at called AG's Wildcat Report. He also is a bigshot editor for Lindy's college football and college basketball magazines, so we suppose that means you should listen to what he has to say.

One of the more interesting parts of the conversation is his take on the patience it takes to build a winner when the program is more or less destroyed. Wildcats fans know a thing or two about that ...

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