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Know Your Foe: Arizona

Sept. 25 -- Cody Martin joined us from the Arizona Scout site to answer some questions about the Wildcats...

Cody Martin of Wildcat Authority kindly took some time to answer some questions about Arizona this season:

1) With Scooby Wright either out or limited over the last couple of weeks, how has Arizona tried to compensate for his absence, both in terms of the pass rush and run defense?

Scooby Wright is similar to Myles Jack in that they aren't easily replaced. The difference in the two situations is that UCLA has scholarship guys to step up, whereas Arizona was playing primarily walk-ons in his absence. Wright is obviously a very big part of what Arizona was able to do defensively last year because he has a nose for the ball and is always in the right position. That isn't easily duplicated, but the coaching staff was able to get more pressure in the backfield the last two games by mixing up the defensive packages and showing different looks to the offense. The defense is notorious for mixing up different blitzes and coverages, but more so since Wright went down. I think that play calling may have opened up for the coaches earlier than they wanted, but it gave good experience to the defense as a whole heading into conference play. I'd expect to see a heavy does of blitzes and box loading against UCLA.

2) Anu Solomon seemed to struggle toward the end of last year. What have you seen out of him this year that leads you to believe he will be able to maintain a consistent level of solid play through the end of the conference season?

Solomon is still struggling to make the passes that he needs to in order to be an elite quarterback, but his decision making is much better in the passing game. Even against weaker competition, he hasn't thrown an interception and really hasn't thrown many poor passes that could have been intercepted. Most of his mistakes so far have come on overthrowing a receiver down field. The coaching staff would like him to pull the ball a little more in the zone read, but overall, his maturity and knowledge of the offense ave been the two biggest improvements.

3) Is there a sense around the program that they're a little disrespected after returning a good amount of talent and being picked to finish so low in the Pac-12 south?

I don't know that I would say that the staff feels disrespected, but the program definitely feels like it has something to prove. If Arizona had won in either the conference championship game or the Fiesta Bowl, then it may be a different story, but the staff knows that it is going to have to start winning the big games if Arizona is going to be taken seriously and with all of the national attention, UCLA is a big game this season.

4) The receiving corps appears to have taken some injuries as well -- who do you expect to be healthy for the game on Saturday, and who is Arizona counting on to step up if key guys are still nicked up?

Trey Griffey and Tyrell Johnson were projected starters heading into the season, but were injured in training camp and haven't fully recovered. Samajie Grant is another starter that likely wont play this weekend, but Arizona's top receiver, Cayleb Jones, should suit up and see some action. Not having the other three is a big hit for the offense, but the Wildcats receiving corps is the one place that could afford to take a hit as it is arguably the deepest position. Arizona has seen Johnny Jackson, a former walk-on, and senior David Richards step up in their absence. I also expect Arizona to use Jerrard Randall, the backup quarterback at wide receiver as well against UCLA.

5) What's your take on the game on Saturday? Score prediction?

I know UCLA is hurting right now defensively, but there is a ton of talent on the Bruin's roster. Myles Jack is a huge loss due to his versatility and that he has manhandled Arizona the past few years, but there are several solid replacements behind him. Ismael Adams is back for the secondary and he makes up for some of their injuries there as well. Overall, I think UCLA is still a more talented team.With that being said, Arizona is a great team at home. ESPN's College GameDay is in town and Rich Rodriguez seems to want this one more than any other game that he has coached since arriving in Tucson. Arizona and UCLA will both have trouble defensively and both will be able to score points. This one could come down to special teams and I have to give the advantage to UCLA there.

UCLA 38, Arizona 35.


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