Oppo Notes: Arizona Offensive Preview

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

A look at the offense that will be taking on the UCLA defense this week. The Arizona Wildcats come into the game having scored over 30 points in their last 4 games.

The Arizona Wildcats come into Saturday's contest against UCLA at 6-2 and 3-2 in the Pac-12 with losses at Washington and at Southern Cal by a combined 25 points (69-34). They've beaten Utah, Colorado and Cal (the same three teams that UCLA has beaten in Pac-12 play) by a combined 38 points (112-72).

The Wildcats have scored over 30 points in all but one game this season, so they score pretty regularly despite having the worst passing game in the Pac-12 (just 187 yards per game). The reason behind this is a formidable rushing attack ranking behind only Oregon in the Pac-12 at 275 yards per game.

Passing Game

Like I said, this area has been far from a strength for the Wildcats. In strictly Pac-12 play, they have actually outproduced the Bruins, averaging 235 yards per game (up over 50 yards from their season average).

The biggest reason for that is the improvement of B.J. Denker, senior from Torrance, California. Denker is on the small end for QBs at just 184 pounds and is a real rarity as a left-handed thrower. He reminds me a little bit of Jake Plummer with the way he is playing now versus earlier in the year. Lots of rollouts and scrambles. Statistically, it's fairly unimpressive to look at Denker, having completed just 58.1% of his passes (136-234) for 1502 yards and 9 touchdowns with 3 interceptions.

No receiver for the Wildcats ranks in the top 12 in the Pac-12 in recepetions or receiving yards, which is unsurprising given the low total yardage. Two freshmen lead the Wildcats in receptions and yards. Those two, Samajie Grant (5'9", 173) and Nate Phillips (5'7". 177) are a welcome change of pace from the bigger wideouts UCLA has faced recently. Grant has 33 catches for 255 yards and Phillips has 21 for 312 and 4 touchdowns. TE Terrence Miller also has 18 catches for 283 yards and is a big bodied player at 6'4" and 233 pounds.

The real story are the injuries suffered by Arizona's WRs earlier in the year. Austin Hill (1364 yards in 2012) has not played this season after an extremely impressive 2012 and 6'4" David Richards has just recently returned for the Wildcats but needs to be kept an eye on.

The pass blocking has been solid this season for the Wildcats, having allowed just 13 sacks on the year, though 9 have come in conference play and 4 last week against California.

Running Game

Ka'Deem Carey (5'11", 207) might be the best running back in the NCAA. You could make a very strong argument just based on his numbers this season. 188 carries for 1072 yards. 5.7 yards per carry with 10 touchdowns. Only lost 15 yards the entire season, so he's rarely tackled for loss. An additional 18 catches for 131 yards. He's rushed for over 100 yards in 11 straight games.

The last game he didn't rush for 100? Last year's UCLA-Arizona matchup, where he was bottled up for just 54 yards on 16 carries with 19 yards coming on one run in the third quarter. The Arizona running game was a nonfactor in 2012 and Lou Spanos will have to have a similar gameplan to slow down a rushing game that has been averaging 247 yards per game in Pac-12 play.

The offensive line for the Wildcats features 1 senior, 3 juniors and a sophomore (for reference against UCLA's line). The tackles (Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele) are both 6'8" and are 305 and 311 pounds. The center Steve Gurrola in a 6'2", 291 pound junior. Interestingly, both guards are on the small side. At right guard, Chris Putton stands 6'4" but at just 284 pounds. Even smaller is the left guard Cayman Bundage at just 6'2" and 267 pounds (for reference, Cassius Marsh is 6'4" 260). Physically, this is a size advantage for the UCLA front seven, as the interior lineman are all the smallest UCLA has seen in weeks.

This is a good offense that has been especially hot in October, so the Bruins defense will be put to the test on Saturday night on the road.

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