Well this week the Wildcats will have an extremely daunting task in trying to beat Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have owned the Wildcats the last few seasons. OSU defeated the Wildcats in the Alamo Bowl 36-10 and then they played about nine months later and the results were almost exactly the same as the Cowboys won easily, 37-14.
Arizona's defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel will try to work some early season magic against a Cowboys offense that racked up 84 points last weekend.
In both games OSU’s offense ripped Arizona’s defense, but a lot of the higher profile players have since left like Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden. Unfortunately for Arizona, the Cowboys have reloaded their roster rather well.
One guy they didn’t have to replace is running back Joseph Randle. While Wildcat fans probably knew of the Weeden/Blackmon combination before the last meeting, after the game Randle had introduced himself to the Wildcats by running for 121 yards and 2 TD’s off of only 15 carries. If that wasn’t enough he added 99 more yards on 9 reception.
Last week Randle did not see much action do to the lop-sidedness of the game. He only had 6 carries but still managed 2 TD’s and 107 yards. Last season Blackmon got most of the attention but Randle had a great year. He was 2nd team All-Big 12 and that was in his sophomore season. This year with his running and receiving abilities, there’s no doubt that he will be a focal point in the Cowboy offense.
Another running back that will get some playing time is Jeremy Smith. He is a pure downhill runner who is extremely effective. He had 646 yards rushing off of just 91 carries. That is an astonishing 7.1 yards per carry. Last week he maintained that high average despite gaining only 37 yards. The flip, though, is those 37 yards came on just 5 carries (7.4 yards a carry)!
One of the key components to a Wildcat win Saturday will be slowing down the Cowboys QB. They will start a freshman, which will be playing in his first EVER road game. The U of A football team hopes that the Zona Zoo knows that as well and brings the noise. Wes Lunt was named the starter after the Cowboys spring camp. He is a big-armed pocket quarterback, standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 210 pounds. This will be the first time since 1993 that the Cowboys have started a freshman at QB, which back then was Tone Jones.
Granted it was against Savannah State, but Lunt was pretty darn good in his first collegiate game. In fact many would say he was perfect. Only playing part of the game, he threw for 129 yards but was a perfect 11-for-11 through the air. The Cowboys ended up playing two other QB’s including likely backup to Lunt, JW Walsh. Walsh got most of the action last week and was 13-for-21 with 149 yards passing. He also threw 2 TDs and a pick.
The good news for the Wildcats is that OSU lost a lot of their go to receivers from last season including the number one receiver in college football the last two years. The bad news is that in 2009 they had to replace 4 of their top 5 including Dallas Cowboy receiver Dez Bryant, and had very little drop off.
This season Tracy Moore is OSU’s top returning receiver. He had 45 receptions last year and 4 of them put points on the board. Isaiah Anderson was the next most productive receiver; he had 28 grabs for 315 yards. Against Savannah State, freshman Austin Hayes had 8 receptions for 77 yards but they rotated a lot of receivers in and out. The Starting receivers were on the bench by the end of the first quarter. It looked a lot like a NFL preseason game, with a high school team on the field.
All in all the odds do not favor the Wildcats, and neither do the critics. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are coming off of a flamboyant win and the Wildcats win over Toledo was the exact opposite. Luckily for the Wildcat defense they will bring a lot more talent to the field than Savannah State’s defense did. Arizona’s D is better battle tested coming off of a nail biter that went to OT against Toledo. Wildcat fans got a tasted of the 3-3-5 Stack’s potential as, despite the struggle, Arizona’s D held Toledo to 0-for-8 on third down conversion attempts after halftime while holding the Rocket offense to just 8 total yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.