By Kyle Kensing
Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Cal's Justin Forsett is wrapped up by UA defensive end Copeland Bryan during the first half of Arizona's game against No. 10 Cal on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 4, 2005
Run defense will remain concern against No. 1 USC
Coming off a 28-0 loss Saturday at No. 10 California, the Arizona football team has little time to lick its wounds before its road matchup this weekend against top-ranked Southern California.
Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said in his weekly press conference yesterday that the Wildcats will focus this week on the errors that cost the team in Berkeley, Calif., and could bury it against a USC team that, behind golden-boy quarterback Matt Leinart, overcame a 21-3 halftime deficit Saturday to beat No. 17 ASU 38-28.
"When you go back and really analyze some of our mistakes ... we didn't get things executed very well," Stoops said. "We didn't play well, didn't coach well enough."
Given the "frustration and disappointment" of Saturday's loss, Stoops said his team has plenty to build on heading into Memorial Coliseum, particularly on the defensive end.
"We did some very good things (defensively)," he said. "You take out four plays, (and) we pretty much eliminate everything they do. Being on the field 35 minutes, we just did exceptionally well. "
Stoops said senior safety Darrell Brooks, who finished with a game-high 10 tackles, and senior defensive end Copeland Bryan, who returned from injury, were "tremendous."
Bryan went down with an ankle injury on the second play of Arizona's Sept. 2 loss at Utah, but made three sacks against Cal and forced a fumble from the Golden Bears' star tailback, Marshawn Lynch.
Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona senior running back Mike Bell pushes past a California defender during Saturday's 28-0 loss at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. Arizona only managed to rush for a total of 37 yards.
"You can see what Copeland brings to our table," Stoops said. "(The three sacks) say a lot about what kind of player he is."
Arizona held Cal to 331 yards of total offense, including 194 yards rushing, 67 fewer than the Bears' Pacific 10 Conference-leading average coming into last week.
Still, Cal was able to engineer scoring drives thanks to a few big-yardage plays, including a 50-yard run by tailback Justin Forsett that set up a 1-yard touchdown run for quarterback Joe Ayoob in the second quarter. Ayoob scrambled before completing a 39-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
"The long pass is just a mental error, a guy losing track," Stoops said. "We've got them stopped on third-and-10, they throw a Hail Mary, and we inexcusably lose the guy."
Those big plays could be a concern for Arizona against a USC team that rattled off a staggering 373 yards rushing against ASU.
"(USC) will probably try to pound the ball against us, because that's what we've been giving up, and we've got to work on that," said sophomore cornerback Antoine Cason. "We've got to keep our heads up and just keep playing."
The Wildcats were successful in limiting Heisman Trophy candidate Reggie Bush's production a year ago, holding the star tailback to 45 yards on 12 carries.
"We came out and we weren't intimidated," Cason said of last November's encounter with USC. "We played the way we were coached to play, but we just didn't have the depth last year we have now."
Arizona led USC at halftime, the only team to do so against the Trojans last year, before succumbing to the eventual national champions 49-9.
The Wildcats will again have to contain Bush and also deal with fellow running back LenDale White, who racked up 118 yards and three touchdowns rushing against Arizona in 2004.
White is a player USC head coach Pete Carroll called a "classic tailback" in a phone interview yesterday.
Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, accrued 280 yards passing and three touchdowns in last season's matchup.
Cason said the Arizona secondary "welcomes the challenge" of trying to shut down the Trojan passing attack.