Scouting Report: Arizona Wildcats

Oklahoma State prepares for its third meeting with the Arizona Wildcats in as many seasons. The Cowboys beat Arizona in the 2010 Alamo Bowl 36-10 and then followed up with a 37-14 win in Stillwater last season. There is little to be gained from looking back on those wins as the Wildcats are under the direction of first-year head coach Rich Rodriguez, who takes over for the disposed Mike Stoops.

Rodriguez has brought in a former assistant of his with defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel leaving West Virginia, where he was originally hired by Rodriguez, to coach the defense for the Wildcats.

That leaves the Arizona offense converting from a multiple offense to the run oriented zone-read spread invented by Rodriguez. On defense they will convert from the multiple four-man front defense used by Stoops to a 3-3-5 employed by Casteel.

You cannot complain about the first go-round for the offense as quarterback Matt Scott is the key, and he was pretty sharp with his execution of the attack.

A fifth-year senior that is seeing this offense as a saving grace and final chance for success in his college career, Scott rushed for 74 yards on mostly zone-read keepers and also used the third option of the offense, the passing game, by completing 30-of-46 for 387-yards and two touchdowns. That is somewhat bassakwards for a Rodriguez offense as the totals of 387 passing and 237 rushing are a little odd adding up to the 624 yards of total offense.

"When this offense is at it's best, it is usually having more success running the football," said Rodriguez. "We are looking for balance, but not forced balance, so what happened last Saturday with Toledo is okay. Matt is a good quarterback and a real competitor."

KaDeem Carey led the rushing attack with 20 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown on a 73-yard breakaway run. The two top targets were also on the outside, which again, is unusual as the offense traditionally favors slot receivers. Former Texas Longhorn Dan Buckner and Austin Hill are both outside receivers. Buckner had 10 grabs for 116 yards and Hill caught seven passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Terrance MIller also caught a touchdown pass.

The offensive line is not spectacular but solid. Center Kyle Quinn is a two-year starter that made his first start in the Alamo Bowl loss to Oklahoma State. Quinn has a little chip on his shoulder.

Suffice to say that the Wildcats defense is not the finished product. They only allowed Toledo 3.4 yards per play rushing, 4.2 yards per pass attempt, and 3.8 yards per offensive snap. They picked off a pass and recovered a fumble. They had eight tackles for loss and two sacks in the 24-17 overtime win over the Rockets.

Middle linebacker Jake Fischer is a heckuva a player that was in for all 94 defensive snaps in the game and earned the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week Award. Fischer had a team-leading 13 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

The Wildcats are thread bare on defense having suffered too many preseason injuries. They are especially thin at linebacker. This will be a project and it is not one that is quite ready for Oklahoma State at this stage.

Special Teams
The kicker Bonano missed two-of-three field goals and his one make came from 26 yards, while the misses were from 24 and 25 yards. Arizona also gave up a 54-yard kickoff return.

The punter averaged 43.5 yards a punt and Scott got credit for a 54-yard punt on a quick kick. Arizona uses its running back Carey on some returns, but the Wildcats don't appear to be overly talented in those departments.

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