Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011
Let's take a brief look at the Arizona team then break it down. Today we focus on offense, tomorrow defense and a score prediction.



Nick Foles
Arizona: Nick Foles returned for his senior season and has looked exceptional so far. Even in losses, Foles is completing a high percentage of passes without a single interception. In games against top 10 opponents when his team was behind and the world knew he was throwing, he still went 61-84-637-2-0. That is a whopping 72.6% completion rate. As expected he was dominant against Northern Arizona.

Darron Thomas
Oregon: Darron Thomas has been equally impressive the last 2 games, but against significantly inferior competition. Over that span Thomas went 24-34-501-9. That's right 9 touchdown passes in 2 games with a very impressive 70.5% completion rate. Against the best defense any Pac-12 team will see this season, Thomas went 31-54-240-1-1. Considering the incredible talent along the entire defense for LSU, this may be the best performance a QB sees against LSU all season.

EDGE: Arizona

I will give a slight edge here to the Wildcats. Nick Foles will be a pro next season and has played well even when behind against top 10 teams. However, this is a very close battle.


Keola Antolin
Arizona: The Wildcats have a very good "slash" type runner in Keola Antolin. Unfortunately for Arizona, the Wildcats have been behind a lot over the past 2 weeks and, playing catch-up, resorted to a lot of throwing the ball. The Wildcats have been winging it all over the field. In the first three games Antolin has carried the ball 28-118 with 1 TD. Against Stanford, he was able to break free with 9-62. As a group, through three games they have carried the ball 52-233-2 TD's. Their overall rushing numbers are brought down by QB sacks, but the RB's are still averaging only 77.7 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry.

Lamichael James
Oregon: What a contrast. Oregon is led by returning Heisman Finalist and Doak Walker winner, LaMichael James. James has cemented himself as the all time leader in several categories at Oregon. He struggled some against LSU, but that is going to happen with a lot of running backs this year. Overall, James is 52-320-5 TD's an average of 7.1 yards per carry. The running backs overall are 106-729-5 TD's.

EDGE: Oregon

This one isn't even close. The Ducks have depth beyond belief at running back.


Juron Criner
Arizona: Arizona is led by senior Juron Criner who most Duck fans remember. He has been a thorn in the Ducks side for the last few seasons. Criner, who missed the Oklahoma State game following an appendectomy has caught 12-199-2 in his two games this season. Dan Buckner, a 6'4", 220 lb receiver out of Plano, TX has emerged as a capable second threat. Against Oklahoma State he caught 10-142 with a TD. He also led the team in receiving against Stanford catching 4-71. Criner, though, is their deep threat. With their combination of receivers, they have the ability to stretch the field as well as catch tough balls over the middle.

Oregon: The Ducks have been a mixed bag at receiver so far this season. Lavasier Tuinei; LT leads the team with 14 catches for 162 yards. The next two leading receiving threats are running backs De'Anthony Thomas and Lamicahel James with 10-153-2 and 9-144-1 respectively. Junior College transfer Rashaan Vaughn made an impact against Missouri State with 2 catches for 64 yards.

EDGE: Arizona

Based on production the edge here goes to 'Zona. Criner is a known commodity and Buckner has really stepped up so far this season.


Arizona OL
Arizona: The Wildcats are breaking in an entirely new offensive line. Their depth chart shows two redshirt freshmen starting at the tackle spots. They are teamed up with a sophomore and two juniors. The starters average 298 across the line. The line has struggled opening holes for running backs as well as protecting the QB. On the year, the Wildcats are averaging only 4.5 yards per carry and have given up 7 sacks for 53 yards lost.

Mark Asper
Oregon: Oregon also broke in 3 new starters but have fared considerably better so far this season. The running game struggled early against LSU, but there were holes there and the Ducks gained more than double what everyone else has been able to gain against LSU. The line has allowed only 1 sack so far this season for a loss of 4 yards; and that was backup QB Bryan Bennett. The line for Oregon is just as stout averaging 302 pounds.

EDGE: Oregon

Though the line has been somewhat maligned early this season, they have done their jobs well; opening holes for running backs and protecting quarterbacks. The Duck offensive line has made some noticeable mistakes, but they are certainly working better as a group than Arizona at this point in time.


Dan Buckner
Arizona: The Wildcats do not list a TE position on their depth chart instead listing 4 starting Wide Receivers. Their roster shows 4 tight ends and a couple of H Backs, a tight end hybrid position. None of their listed tight ends have any receptions this season. However, Dan Buckner, a Wide Receiver has a tight end build and certainly fills that role to a degree.

David Paulson
Oregon: Though he has been largely absent from the first 3 games, David Paulson is one of the better tight ends in the Pac-12 conference. He is a sure handed receiver with decent speed for a tight end. On the season, Paulson has 4 catches for 26 yards. He is backed up by true freshman Colt Lyerla who has one less catch than Paulson, but has made his 3 receptions count for 53 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lyerla is still working on his blocking and knowledge of the position, but his athleticism makes him a threat any time he is on the field.

EDGE: Oregon

Though there is not much productive capacity for comparison, Oregon actually utilizes a tight end and has a returning All Pac-12 player in Paulson. I would expect Oregon to get him involved in the game plan this week and use some new sets to take advantage of the skills at this position.


Arizona: Arizona has been very productive through the air averaging 364 yards per game. The running game is a different story as the Wildcats average a mere 55 yards per game. That amounts to a total of 419 yards of total offense per game. Even against a weak opponent, Northern Arizona, the Wildcats only mustered 75 yards rushing on 20 carries.

Oregon: While Oregon's numbers do not look as gaudy as last season, the Ducks are deeper and faster at nearly every position this season. The offense has been working out some kinks early, but the Oregon offense is still extremely potent. Through the air, the Ducks appear to be ahead of where they were early last season even with the loss of Jeff Maehl. That is mostly the result of Darron Thomas being more comfortable this season. Listed as a running back, De'Anthony Thomas made an impact catching quick passes against LSU to open the season. Overall the passing game is averaging 278.7 yards per game while the running game averages 254 yards per game for a total offense of 532.7 yards per game.

Edge: Oregon


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