Wildcats to rely on run game - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Wildcats to rely on run game

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Posted: Saturday, October 21, 2006 10:43 am | Updated: 4:53 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

TUCSON - Oregon State, its season rejuvenated by a victory at Washington, will try to make it two Pac-10 road wins in a row Saturday against the depleted Arizona Wildcats.

The Beavers (3-3, 1-2) will face an Arizona team that snapped a three-game skid with a victory at winless Stanford last week but lost backup quarterback Adam Austin with torn ligaments in his left knee.

With starter Willie Tuitama already out after two concussions, the Wildcats (3-4, 1-3) will go with third-string quarterback Kris Heavner.

Arizona coach Mike Stoops knows that Oregon State will try to rattle the quarterback.

‘‘They will put a lot of pressure on us, but we have to have ways to counter it,’’ Stoops said. ‘‘We will have to have something up our sleeve.’’

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, bringing pressure is an Oregon State strength.

The Beavers are averaging 3.8 sacks per game, with 11 coming in the last two games. In those two games, Oregon State has 25 tackles for loss. The math gets even worse. Arizona has allowed 20 sacks this season.

Expect the Wildcats to come with a conservative game plan. Heavner threw only four passes after Austin was hurt late in the first half.

‘‘We have to make sure we are solid around (Heavner) and our ability to run the football is key,’’ Stoops said. ‘‘We have to try to get some big plays. We have to make sure we have a plan if they are cheating the line of scrimmage.’’

Arizona’s trio of running backs — Chris Jennings, Chris Henry and Xavier Smith — combined for 236 yards against Stanford. The Wildcats’ had negative yards rushing their three previous games.

The Beavers, meanwhile, are coming off a strong offensive performance. Matt Moore threw for 436 yards, fourthbest in school history, in the victory at Washington. Sammie Stroughter was named conference offensive player of the week after 223 yards receiving against the Huskies, also fourth-best in school history. Stroughter returned punts for touchdowns earlier this season against Eastern Washington and Boise State.

Oregon State can move the ball on the ground, too. Yvenson Bernard is second in the Pac-10 at 106.5 yards per game. The Beavers are 3-0 when Bernard tops 100 yards.

Oregon State’s weakness on offense has been turnovers. Arizona intercepted Moore six times in last season’s 29-27 Wildcats victory in Corvallis.

The Wildcats will need a strong effort from their defense to have a chance.

Arizona’s defense has been steady most of the season, giving up 306 yards per game, fourth-best in the Pac-10. The Beavers rank third at 302.

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