Scouting Report: Arizona/BYU

The Cougars and Cats renew a rivalry that has been dormant for nearly 30 years. BYU comes to Tucson with hopes of taking one from a Pac-10 school, while Arizona tried to start things off on the right note before heading on the road next week.

Brigham Young (0-0) at Arizona (0-0)
Kickoff: 7:15 p.m.
Site: Arizona Stadium (Cap. - 56,002) - Tucson, Ariz.
TV: TBS Sports (Chip Caray, Tom Ramsey, David Aldridge)
Radio: 1290 AM KCUB/107.5 FM KHYT (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett, Sean Mooney)

BYU and Arizona Historical Fast Facts
First Meeting: 1936 (Arizona 32 - BYU 6)
Last Meeting: 1977 (BYU 34 - Arizona 14)
All-Time Series Record: Arizona leads 10-8-1
Current Streak: BYU has won the last two meetings between the two

BYU AT A GLANCE
Head Coach: Bronco Mendenhall (2nd year, 6-6 overall)
2005 Record: : 6-6 (Lost to Cal in the Las Vegas Bowl)
Series Record: Arizona leads the series 10-8-1.
Last Meeting: BYU beat the Wildcats 34-14 in 1977

BYU On Offense: The Cougars can move the ball. Mendenhall is trying to bring back the high scoring tradition of the LaVell Edwards era and his first year would have to be deemed a success. The Cougars averaged 33 points a game last season and racked up over 5,500 yards of total offense.

The team offense resembles that of Texas Tech in terms of structure but do more with standard personel and also have a greater emphasis on the run.

"They move the ball on everybody," Mike Stoops said. "They have an answer for everything you do."

Quarterback John Beck leads the offense. The senior passer puts the ball up early and often and is very accurate. He's got good arm strength and generally makes good decisions. If he gets into trouble he can scramble and stay alive.

The Wildcats will try to put pressure on Beck. If his line gives him plenty of time to pass he will burn the Cats and quickly build up his already high confidence.

Taking the pressure off of Beck is running back Curtis Brown. Brown rushed for almost 1,200 yards and 14 scores a year ago. When the Cougars get the running game going they were a much more efficient offense.

"They were most productive when they ran the football," Stoops said.

The backs do more than just carry the football. They are prime targets in the offense. Two running backs were in the top-five in receptions last year, with Brown having the second most receptions with 53.

The receiving corps may lack a true star but there are a number of talented pass catches for Beck to throw to and the team tends to share the ball very well. Tight end Johnny Harline led the team in receptions a year ago and should remain a favorite target for Beck this year.

The offense line is enormous, averaging over 315 pounds. They have a reputation for not being the most physical group, but they do seem to protect the passer pretty well. One challenge for the Wildcats' gap-control defense is the fact that the Cougars often use very wide splits, which hampers the linemen from clogging up the gaps. For the Wildcat front line it will be the classic battle of size versus speed. The Cats do not line up big, bulky defensive linemen. They rely on speed and strength. They will try to run past, around and between the BYU linemen in order to disrupt things.

Shutting down the run is a priority. In games where BYU failed to rush of 100 yards, the Cougars won just once. Forcing the Cougars into being one-dimensional is a key to success. Last year two of the three BCS conference teams BYU faced were able to do just that and both won handily.

Tackling will also be vital for the Wildcats. In games where they surrendered a lot of rushing yards a year ago, they also tended to tackle poorly.

BYU On Defense: BYU was not a great defensive team a year ago. They surrendered almost 30 points a game. To make matters worse, seven starters off of that squad have moved on.

The advantage the Cougars have is that they have switched up their defensive scheme and there is no video of BYU in the 3-4. The Cats can only prepare against what they think the Cougars want to do.

BYU's defensive line is mostly unproven. There is okay size at the two end spots, but BYU will be small on the inside. Although the Cats don't have a lot of beef on the offensive line, they will have the size advantage here.

The Cougars do have a solid linebacking unit led by Cameron Jensen. The group is talented and has some big hitters, but they were suspect a year ago in short yardage situations and need to play stronger.

The secondary appears to be a real weakness. The group is experienced, but gives up a lot of big plays. They lack size and could struggle against the diverse wide outs the Wildcats can throw at them. Of the top six projected defensive backs, the group has just three interceptions.

The Cats want to be balanced. They want to get the run game going early in an effort to keep teams from sitting back waiting for the pass. Chris Henry will get the nod at running back and will get the majority of the carries, but Xavier Smith and Chris Jennings will also get their share of touches. Henry is the most physical of the three, while Smith may be the shiftiest. Jenkins is in between and the three can give the defenses a variety of looks and styles.

The key for the Cats is to hold onto the ball. In the losses to Utah, Purdue, Oregon and Stanford it was turnovers that were the killer. Henry had fumble problems a year ago but has really hung onto the ball in the fall.

Overview: Both teams should have some success moving the ball. The BYU offense is spectacular, while the improved Arizona offense should have no problem exploiting the BYU defense. Both teams must establish the run, to be successful and if one team fails to do so then they could go home the losers.


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