UA (3-8 in 2005) VS. BYU (6-6): The breakdownby John Moredich on Sep. 01, 2006, under Sports
UA offense vs. BYU defense
Arizona is in search of more big plays. BYU gave up way too many in the passing game last year. It could be a perfect situation for Wildcats quarterback Willie Tuitama to come out blazing.
The big question will be what inexperienced UA tailbacks Chris Henry, Xavier Smith and Chris Jennings can do on the ground. Henry, a backup to Mike Bell last season, has much to prove. If Henry plays anything like he did in camp, he should be ready to ease some of the concerns about the fumblitis.
UA defense vs. BYU offense
Cougars quarterback John Beck has started 26 games, has a firm grasp of the offensive game plan and has plenty of targets, with tight end Jonny Harline his favorite receiver.
It will take a strong effort by the secondary and pressure up front to rattle Beck. That didn’t happen much when the Cougars averaged 43 points over their past five games.
Arizona place-kicker Nick Folk has a big edge in long tries, but BYU’s Jared McLaughlin made 14 of 19 attempts and was 9 for 9 between 30 and 39 yards. He was not so efficient outside the 40, though.
Wildcats need consistency from punter Kyle McQuown. BYU knows it will get that from Derek McLaughlin, who averaged 40 yards a boot.
Returner Syndric Steptoe tips the edge to the Wildcats.
The X factor
Arizona will have its first sold-out crowd since Ohio State in the 2000 season opener. Plenty of excitement and noise could slow BYU’s audibles. It could come down to size and strength of BYU versus speed of the Wildcats.
The bottom line
If Arizona can create turnovers and put the Cougars in long third-down situations with sacks, this could be a blowout. If Beck can dink and dump his passes, throw long on occasion and rely on 1,000-yard tailback Curtis Brown, most of the crowd will go home frustrated.
If you go
> When: 7:15 p.m., Saturday > Where: Arizona Stadium > Series: Arizona leads 10-8-1. > Last meeting: BYU 23, Arizona 16, 1976 > Line: Arizona by 6 1/2 > TV: TNT > Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 1210-AM (Spanish)