Arizona has something going on: they lost to USC by 7 last year, in mid-season. However, since then they've lost their two best offensive playmakers (QB and TE (Gronkowski is reportedly out). All the noise this week has been about the RB Grigsby, and his 8+ ypc average.
So, Grigsby. He's listed at 5'10", 190, so you know, he's really 5'9", 180 -- max. He's not that big of a guy . If we decide to stop arm tackling this week he will feel it a few times. IOW, he's 50 pounds lighter, and no faster, than the RB we practiced against all last year. Edds might be as quick, and outweigh him by 60. Not to be arrogant, but he looks like an undersized Wegher, to me. His coach loves to talk about his "competitiveness". That's fine, but no one ever said Shonn, Tavian, or Ronnie were "competitive." Being "competitive" is usually the sobriquet reserved for us scrubs who happen to be of the Caucasian persuasion.
Last year, Grigsby fumbled a lot early, was benched, and returned to average a little over 100 ypg the rest of the way. (overall 5.4 ypc.) That's fine. They ran for 150 a game as a team. I guess you'd be impressed if this were the NFL.
This year he is averaging 8+ per carry -- but is he really? This sample set includes CMU (which, admittedly, beat MSU last week) and Northern Arizona (playing their first game of the year). Against NAU, he had a 94 yard run. Throw that out as an outlier, and he's, again, making 4-5 yards a carry, average, against teams that will not be petitioning to join the Pac-10. (He is an adjusted 37 carries for 231.) I think he's a fairly reliable 4-5 ypc back against average run defenses, because that fits the historical data model. We're not constructed to be an average run defense. We're supposed to be top 20, and we usually are. The plan has to be to take him out of the game and make someone else beat us. If someone else does, it will be that man's career game.
He has 1 reception for 12 yards. He's on track to meet last year's numbers: 12 for 62. And we care?
The QB is a newbie who doesn't seem to make dumb mistakes: his efficiency score is 124.
My take on this game, therefore:
1. It's time for us to start playing run defense as we did last year. If we do, and limit ourselves to two Stanzi-balls, we win. If their QB can beat us, well, there's always Templeton Rye.
2. Arizona likes to slug and plug on D. If we cross them up by running more than the Sainted Seven plays, we win.
3. If we can't stop Grigsby, we're going to be shredded for the first time in memory once we get to the Big Ten. Even by Illinois. Maybe by Minnesota. This would not be good. See above: Templeton Rye.
4. I will be staring at who is controlling the LOS, because these are old school Ohio/Penna coaches (Youngstown and Pittsburg, for goodness sakes) and it's almost a guilty pleasure for them to play someone who doesn't spread the field and avoid the mosh pit between the hash marks. This game has the potential to be "That 70's Show".
5. I hope we run that pro-spread again. (Of course, if you're Arizona, and you have done your homework, you *want* Iowa to put the game in Stanzi's hands early, because he's a dangerously sloppy guy in the first half, historically .)
Net? I think we're playing a D'Antonio-like team, but one lacking either a proven QB or an exceptional RB. (Maybe CMU concluded same.) If we're a good team by now, if we tackle per the historical usual, we we will win. Are we a good team yet? Not demonstrated. Can we beat ourselves? Really well: Stanzi's first half fumble last week while being knocked around the pocket was among the uglier, out-of-control, eyes closed, where's-momma fumbles I've ever seen.
But if we're going to have a really good year, we will win this game. I think we'll learn a lot.