An Early Look at the Wildcats

Fall camp is over. Preparation for the first game against Arizona began in earnest as the team shifted into its regular season practice routine. Scout teams have been formed and game plans developed as the Cougars prepare to travel down to Tucson next Saturday for the season opener.

"We've been watching a lot of film on them," said tight end Daniel Coats about the Wildcat defense. "They have a good run defense and they play a good cover-two scheme. They're going to be tough."

Coats and the rest of the offense is getting most of their work against the scout team, which will be asked to mimic Arizona's 4-3 base scheme as well as possible to prepare the offensive starters. Defensive players on the scout team so far include Kellen Fowler, Robbie Buckner, Cole Miyahira, Carter Mees, Jordan Richardson, Skylar Stephens, Garrett Eskelson, Temana Paongo, Tommy Nelson, Dan Alleto and Rex Doman.

"We think we have a good idea of what Arizona does defensively," said receiver Zac Collie. "It's a pretty basic 4-3 defense, but what they do, they do well. They're very fast to the ball and they're aggressive. They're going to be a challenge."

Defensive View

The defense will be going against an up and coming offensive system that started making waves with quarterback Willie Tuitama. The Cougar defense is ready for the new Arizona quarterback, having watched film on him from last year.

"He's a good drop-back quarterback," said linebacker Chris Bolden. "A lot of people think he's a scrambler, but he's really not. He's good in the pocket and he'll be a challenge for us. They have real good receivers and I think their passing game will be the strength of their offense and what we'll have to shutdown most."

For now the defense will try and stop what the scout team is simulating with such guys as Ryan Neely, Zac Erekson, Matt Smith, Jon Barrett, Daniel Trevort, Isaac Taylor, Walter Kahaialii, Eric Freeman, Jeff Rhea, Nick Longshore, James Lark, Rick Wolfley, Rudy Beck.

"We're trying to get a feel with the game film and then with practice going against the scout team," said linebacker Aaron Wagner, "We need to feel what they're doing and what they're about—the quarterback, his tendencies and all the rest of what he does. It's not a real complicated system that they run, but it's a system that is solid and the quarterback they have is very good at making good and fast reads, so we'll have to be ready for that."

Ailing Cougars

On the injury front tight end Andrew George re-aggravated a meniscus tear that he had in high school. He will be out for around 4-5 days, but is optimistic he will be ready to go against Arizona. Markell Staffieri was held out of full-contact and pursuit drills, but like George, he is optimistic that he will be ready for Arizona. Wagner, who is not quite feeling 100% himself, has been practicing in Staffieri's stead.

"I'm close," said Wagner regarding his health. "I still feel a little slower, but I'm close. I can play, and I feel I can play well getting most of the reps at inside linebacker with Cameron. We all want Markell back, and I think he will be back in time for the Arizona game. If he can't, then I'll have to pick up the slack, which I'm ready to do."

Cornerback Justin Robinson left practice early today after taking a head shot from receiver Michael Reed on a blocking drill. His status is uncertain at this time. Defensive lineman Matangi Tonga hurt his ankle during yesterday's practice and did not practice today. He is expected to be back on Monday and to play against Arizona.


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