Blitz-happy Wildcats could cause some problems for Oregon offense

·3 min read

For a team that’s rebuilding, the most difficult part is trying to figure out what kind of defense, or offense for that matter is best to run according to the personnel that is on the roster right now.

Arizona has decided the way to go is to blitz the quarterback. And if that doesn’t work, then blitz again.

After three games, quite literally, it’s been a hit-and-miss strategy for the Wildcats under first-year head coach Jedd Fisch and defensive coordinator Don Brown. Arizona knew exactly what it was getting in Brown as the long-time assistant coach has the moniker of “Dr. Blitz.”

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But the Wildcats are prone to giving up the big play. BYU scored a touchdown of 67 yards in the first game and then San Diego State found the end zone on plays of 55, 25, and 40 yards, all in the first half. All three opponents, including Northern Arizona, had their fair share of plays of 20 yards that were not scoring plays.

That’s the bad.

The good comes from ranking second in the Pac-12 with 21 tackles for loss, only behind Oregon State. Nose tackle Kyon Barrs, who leads the team with 3.5 tackles for loss, and cornerback Christian Roland-Wallace, who is considered to be a premier shutdown corner.

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The stats don’t bear it out (just one interception thus far) because opponents tend to throw on the other side of the field. In Arizona’s five games in 2020, he ranked third on the team in tackles and tied for the team lead in pass break-ups.

Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead says Roland-Wallace can cause havoc for an offense in multiple ways.

“His length and his physicality in the run game and at the line of scrimmage (make him a challenge),” he said. “He has very good short-distance quickness and the ability to redirect and the scheme that Coach Brown utilizes gives him a lot of opportunities to press at the line of scrimmage and challenge the receivers.”

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While opponents know the Wildcats will be blitzing, the difficult part, according to Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal is figuring out where it’s coming from and prepare for every possible scenario.

“The challenge this week is two personnel groupings that are very different in what they do out of them,” he said. “We have to be at our very best, got to study them thoroughly and got to have a good plan because they do affect the quarterback. They get a lot of penetration and create negative plays in the run game as well.”

As long as the Ducks get more explosion plays than negative ones, they should be just fine when the final horn sounds on this contest.

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