Arizona quarterback Nick Foles passed for more than 400 yards in last year's win over Stanford. He could be due for another big day.
Smooty and uofafanatic from Arizona's SB Nation blog AZ Desert Swarm were kind enough to answer some questions about Saturday's game.
1. Nick Foles was putting up big numbers before his injury and Matt Scott did a fine job in Foles' absence. Which quarterback do you think matches up better against Stanford, and do you expect Mike Stoops to use both Foles and Scott against the Cardinal?
uofafanatic: While I have been very excited about Matt Scott's ability, Nick Foles would match up better if he is really 100%. He is just so incredibly accurate. Expect to see Scott get at least one series, and possibly more. That part of the game is kind of tough to predict. OC Seth Littrell seems very high on Scott, but if the game is tight, I can see Stoops keeping Foles in all game. Also, watch out for a couple of plays where Scott may line up at WR. He did it, unsuccessfully, against Washington and RB Nic Grigsby
took the snap. With Foles taking the snap and Scott at WR, that play could be deadly.
Smooty: Foles matches up better, in that I think it will be a close game and Foles has proven to be steady under pressure. Also, Stanford's defense has been prone to give up big chunks through the air (Oregon, USC, and WSU games), and Foles' clear strength over Scott is his passing ability. With that said, a little bit of rust is expected from Foles, and Scott has looked great running the ball in Foles' absence. I expect Foles to start, but Scott to see 10-15 snaps during the game to force the Cardinal defense to defend a completely different look.
2. The havoc that Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed have wreaked this season is well documented. What other player on the Arizona defense do you foresee playing a key role in the outcome of Saturday's game?
uofafanatic: If he is healthy, DT Justin Washington. He is scary good. The reports coming out of the practices are that he'll start, and if he does, the Stanford run game will likely be shut down Saturday.
Smooty: The linebackers as a unit, particularly Paul Vassallo
. The LBs need to keep the Stanford rushing attack from going wild, and prevent large gains on first down. Long 2nd and 3rd downs will be an advantage for Arizona's defense, and it's two defensive ends, and their ability to rush the passer.
3. How did OSU quarterback Ryan Katz find so much success against the Arizona defense in the Wildcats' only loss this season?
uofafanatic: Several factors. Most notably, Trevin Wade
took a helmet to his thigh, and played hurt for most of the game. But Katz picked apart the zone, and worked some magic. He threw several passes while being tackled that were somehow completed. But no whining here. Katz had a terrific game, largely without his best receiver.
Smooty: Trevin Wade was playing while he was clearly hurt. The Beavers attacked Arizona's zone all game long, and were able to take advantage of some blown coverages. Katz looked pretty good that afternoon. Several passes were released just as he was being hit, and his receivers were able to make big plays.
4. Washington attempted to establish the run early against Stanford and failed miserably. Do you think Keola Antolin or Nic Grigsby needs to be effective in order for Arizona to knock off the Cardinal?
uofafanatic: No. That is not to say that Arizona won't be able to establish the run, just that they won't need to. Nick Foles is so accurate that Arizona can just complete short passes to 'substitute' for a running game if need be. I suspect, however, that Keola Antolin will have a good day against Stanford. The Arizona coaching staff saw the benefits of establishing a running game the past two weeks, and will likely be eager to do so against the Cardinal.
Smooty: When the running game gets going, Arizona's offense is extremely hard to stop. With that said, it doesn't have to get going. With the short passing and screen game, and (when he plays) Matt Scott's ability to scramble, the offense is usually able to move the ball down the field. The key to me is Arizona succeeding in getting the ball to Antolin and Grigsby in space, whether that be on the ground, or through the air.
5. What's your prediction for Saturday's game?
uofafanatic: Arizona wins a close one, 37 - 34. This will, hopefully, be a statement game for Arizona. Stanford is a great team. Not a good team, a great team. And my prediction should not be seen as a slight to the Cardinal. I just believe that Arizona is good enough to win this one. The defense will be the difference here, and I don't think the Stanford D will be able to stop a healthy Nick Foles. Also there's that Juron Criner guy. I hear he's the best receiver in the Pac-10.
Smooty: OT. And several adult beverages needed to calm the nerves. Should be a great football game.