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Arizona Sportspage


September 13, 2009 4:19 PM

Running Game Is Wildcats' Identity

After two weeks of the college football season, what we know now is that the Arizona Wildcats can run the football.

The Wildcats doubled up the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 34-17 Sept. 12 at Arizona Stadium. The win was fueled by a 207-yard, two touchdown performance by running back Nic Grisby.

Arizona, 2-0, dominated at the line of scrimmage, rushing for 365 yards. Keola Antolin added 60 yards and quarterback Matt Scott rushed for 48 yards.

For the second week in a row, the Wildcats were able to gain more than 240 yards on the ground. In a 19-6 victory over Central Michigan in Week One, the Willdcats rushed for 246 yards.

The Wildcats, who struggled early last week, had no problem putting together good drives in the first half against the Lumberjacks. Grisby showed an ability to be physical between the tackles and break the long run. He scored on touchdowns of 25 and 30 yards in the first quarter. He also broke a 93-yard run later in the game.

"He's a game-changer and a game-breaker," Arizona coach Mike Stoops told The Arizona Republic. "He's a guy that can hit the home run, and we need that."

If there were any questions about the Wildcats' identity, they're coming closer and closer to being answered. Arizona, over the first two weeks of the season, has been a team which thrives on its rushing attack and strong defense. Every team needs an identity or something to rely on when the going gets tough. Arizona seems to have found its niche early. Arizona can use three different options in the running game. Grisby has been more than effect, Antoli s is a constant and quarterback Matt Scott puts pressure on a defense with his ability to pull the ball down and run.

But is the Arizona rushing attack truly this effective? It's possible the Wildcats may not find out for some time. The Wildcats, for the first time this season, will face a formidable opponent in the Iowa Hawkeyes, Sept. 19 in Iowa City, Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 2-0 with wins over Northern Iowa and Iowa State, but they did surrender 190 rushing yards to the Cyclones.

Like milk to the body, a good running game can do a whole team good. Arizona's defense, which has played well over the first two games of the year, will be rested. The Wildcats' passing game would be more effective and opposing defenses would feel the sting of fatigue by the final quarter.

With tough games at Washington (Oct. 10), at home against Standford (Oct. 17) and UCLA (Oct. 24), and road games against California (Nov. 14) and USC (Dec. 5), a good running game will always give the Wildcats a chance.

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