On Saturday, that could change as Arizona faces the Washington Huskies. The Huskies rank second-to-last in the Pac-12 when it comes to rushing defense. The Wildcats are in the top five rushing offenses in the conference, which could mean trouble for Washington,
The Wildcats' passing attack will be tested, as this is the first time that they have faced a top-tier passing defense. The Huskies are only giving up 172.7 yards per game through the air, which is good enough for second best in the conference.
Up front, Washington's defensive line is geared to stop the pass. The line is anchored by sophomore Andrew Hudson, who has a team-high two sacks on the season. Hudson started the season slow, but has been getting an exceptional push up front in the past few games.
The secondary is benefiting from the pressure on the quarterback, but also has a few speedy defenders. Safety Sean Parker has been playing fantastically for the Husky defense, as he is second on the team in tackles and is all over the field. It can be safe to assume that his name will be heard plenty in Arizona Stadium this weekend.
In order for Arizona's offense to be successful against Washington, it has to find ways to make holes for Ka'Deem Carey and possibly Daniel Jenkins. Arizona has the most potent offense in the conference, but the rushing attack only ranks fifth in the conference. The Wildcats need to run the ball effectively and push the tempo against the Huskies.
Players to watch:
#50 LB, Thomas Tutogi – The younger brother of Taimi Tutogi, Thomas has been a leader for the defense in just his second year with the team. Last year, he was used primarily on special teams, but this season, Tutogi is leading the Huskies in tackles. Look for him to have an impact on Saturday.
#1 S, Sean Parker – The safety doesn't have an interception or a sack, but that doesn't stop him from being a key player on the Washington defense. He has 36 tackles and that number continues to rise as he had a season-high twelve tackles against Oregon two weeks ago.
#41 LB, Travis Feeney – The redshirt freshman has been a potent member of the Huskies' linebacker corps this season. He is among the team leaders in nearly every category and continues to improve in his first campaign. If Arizona tries to run the ball against the Huskies, expect to hear Feeney's name called quite a bit.
#93 DE, Andrew Hudson – The big defensive end can be an issue for the Wildcats if they decide to drop back and throw the ball. Arizona has given up plenty of sacks this season and should Matt Scott stay in the pocket too long, Hudson could make him pay.
Keys to the game:
1. Score in the first drive: This one is simple. In the games that Arizona has put up points on the first series of the game, the Wildcats have won. In the three games the Wildcats lost, they failed to put any numbers on the scoreboard early. Confidence is key at this point in the season and scoring early could give Arizona that extra boost.
2. Tempo: Arizona seemed to slow the game down at times over the past few weeks and the offense wasn't quite as dangerous at those times. The offense is built to catch other teams off guard and an inexperienced Husky defense is a team that should tire quickly as the game goes on.
3. Run the ball: Washington has one of the worst rushing defenses in the league and Arizona needs to exploit that. The Wildcats have a capable rushing attack that can put up some big numbers and it needs to happen if they expect to win. The Huskies won't be able to stop the read-option and Arizona needs to utilize it.