The defense has a big task ahead

After the Oregon State game a lot of us were frustrated at the defense's lack of not being able to contain Jaquizz Rodgers but the more concerning thing I saw was how the defensive line was manhandled which meant they really couldn't presure the QB.

For this Mike Stoops team it all starts with Willie Tuitama who is much improved this season with 15 TD's and only 3 INT's. He has clearly come on in Arizona Offensive Coordinator's Sonny Dykes new spread attack. You could see that things were improving with Tuitama last year, he wasn't as erratic and he was making fewer mistakes

At his media luncheon Tuesday, Pete Carroll praised the Wildcats’ all-time leader in passing yards (7,814), attempts (1,092), completions (574) and total offense (574).

“Willie has been a big, strong thrower since early in his high school days,” Carroll said. “He’s a really good all-around athlete. He can make all the throws.”

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said Tuitama has thrived as he’s become a more reliable quarterback.

“Willie’s playing well within himself,” Stoops said. “He’s taking what the defense is giving him. He’s got good command of the offense and playing with poise and confidence, which hasn’t always been the case.

Tuitama’s play this season is a big reason Arizona (5-2, 3-1 Pac-10) is challenging for the Pac-10 title and on track to play in its first Bowl Game since 1998.

“The biggest thing is we’re playing so much more consistently. We continue to mature, and this team has done everything we’ve asked them to do,” Stoops said. “We know that this would be our best group of players, and it’s one of the best teams we’ve had since we’ve been here.”

Tuitama has 1,691 yards on 140 completions in 215 attempts with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. His 151.4 pass efficiency rating is 19th best in the country and second best in the Pac-10 — behind USC’s Mark Sanchez.

There were times early in Tuitama's career that he was just horrible under center but he has really settled in.

I am not expecting USC's defense to hold Arizona scoreless like they have Arizona St. and Washington State. Arizona has too many weapons on offense for that to happen. The most obvious weapon is TE Rob Gronkowski, who can go deep downfield to make plays. The other weapon at receiver is Mike Thomas, who is also a threat downfield he is equal with Oregon State's James Rodgers as one of the best run-after-catch wideouts in the conference.  

The new face on the offense is Keola Antolin who had 149 yards vs. CAL and is very similar to Oregon State's Jaquizz Rodgers. Antolin came in the game after Nic Grigsby fumbled eventually letting Cal score on the drive.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves. As good as UA looks on paper they are averaging 40 points a game but four of their five wins came against teams with losing records but that doesn't mean USC should discount them either. Arizona will have the advantage of playing at home (it's also their homecoming week) and the Pac-10 as a whole has been terrible on the road.

The one thing that SC does have going for it is that just about everyone is healthy on the defense so I would hope that evreyone will step up to the challenge. Tuitama is not the same type of mobile QB that they faced against Oregon St. or Oregon. Tuitama being more of a pocket passer allows SC to try an put presure on him to make mistakes. They have done it before so lets hope they can do it again.

SC had the added benefit getting a lot of players in the game against WSU they won't have that luxury this week but its nice to know that there are some adequate, though not polished, replacements on defense. The attitude on defense needs to be as intense as it can be without the players trying to play outside of themselves. They have made that mstake in the past and there have been time where they have recovered but there were also time that it burned them, that will be the most importantballe of all...

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