Scouting Report: Utah

Both Arizona and Utah come into Saturday's game with a lot of unanswered questions. Both clubs are undefeated, but neither has played an opponent that challenged them enough to show exactly what they have. Arizona wants a win over a quality opponent, while Utah would love to knock off one of the big boys.

This Scouting Report is sponsored by InnSuites Hotels. If you're coming to town for a game, business or pleasure, why not stay where all fans stay. For more information, click on the banner below.

Both teams head into this game with a trip to the Big-10 on the radar screen. Arizona goes to Wisconsin next week, while the same day the Utes head to the "Big House" for a game against Michigan.

Utah at a glance:
Record: 2-0
2001 Record: 8-4 (4-3), Beat USC 10-6 in the Las Vegas Bowl
Head Coach: Ron McBride
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Returning Starters: Off: 5, Def: 8
Season to date:
Utah has gotten off to a quick start beating two inferior opponents. The Utes cruised to a 23-3 win over Utah State, running all over the hapless Aggies. The Utes pounded out 282 yards against Utah State and followed it up with 386 yards on the ground in their 40-13 romp of Indiana.

When Utah has the ball:
Utah likes to use the run to set up the pass. They have a straight ahead, hard-nosed running attack that is comparable to Stanford's of a year ago. Utah's stud running back Marty Johnson has put together games of 176 and 229 yards in the season's first two games, but sprained his knee and is expected to miss the Arizona game. His back up, R.J. Peroulis has rushed for 211 yards so far this year.

Peroulis is more of a slasher than the bruising Johnson, but both runners will pound it in the middle. The Wildcats will need great play from their defensive line and linebackers to stop the run. Utah has a big, talented line, with the pair on the left side averaging 313 pounds. Arizona's defensive tackles will have to do a solid job to help stuff the run.

Lance Rice is the Utes' signal caller and the steady junior is the perfect quarterback for the Utah system. Rice makes few mistakes, but has the ability to make the big play. Utah coach Ron McBride is a former Dick Tomey assistant and like his mentor puts an emphasis on ball control and field position.

"They can play 3-0 game and enjoy it as much as any other game," said Arizona coach John Mackovic. "Maybe more so. They like to control the game."

The Utes will use a lot of play action and occasionally use it to throw deep. Wildcat defenders can't get too dialed into stopping the run.

"It takes a lot of discipline," said linebacker Ray Wells. "We have to be ready for the play action pass."

When Arizona has the ball:
The Utes are one of the best zone blitzing teams in college football. The Utes' system calls for a variety of pass rushers to come from all different angles. Often times when linebackers are blitzing the defensive linemen drop back into pass coverage. If the blitz is successful, then Jason Johnson will have to rush his throws.

"Utah is the best zone blitz team I've seen in a long time," said Mackovic. "They coordinate their fronts and coverages real well. They bring them from all over."

The Wildcat line will have their hands full with the Utah scheme. To protect the passer the line will have to hold their blocks and not fall for the stunts and looks that the defense will give them.

"We have to really know our assignments," said Arizona center Keoki Fraser. "We'll spend all week getting prepared."

As good as Utah's pass rush is, their run defense is even better. The Utes have a great front line and do a great job at stopping the run. Jason Kaufusi is the top defensive end, while Garrett Smith and Lauvale Sape are two very active tackles.

"They have a veteran defensive line," Mackovic said. "They have seven returners who either started or played a lot up front. They do not give up a lot of yards rushing."

The Wildcats will try to get Clarence Farmer going after a rough outing against NAU. The Wildcats need their star running back to gain some yards and free things up for the passing game. Expect the Wildcats to try to spread the ball around, utilizing a lot of quick drops and short passes against he Utah zone.

The Utes have a lot of players who have moves around in the secondary, but so far they have played quite well. Strong safety Dave Revill was a corner back last year. The Utes used a lot of nickel and dime coverages a year ago, and they will probably do the same against the Wildcats' wide-open passing attack.

OUTLOOK: This is a tough game to call. If Arizona can establish the run against the Utes, then it could be a big night for the Wildcats. The Wildcats won't be able to be as one dimensional against the Utes as they were the Lumberjacks. This game is a great measuring stick for both clubs. In the end the depth of the Pac-10 team could be the difference.


Wildcat Authority Top Stories