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October 14, 2006The Arizona Wildcats have had trouble running the football this season to say the least. Regardless of whether blame is placed on the offensive line or the running backs, one thing is for sure and that is that Arizona has been no threat to run the ball. The Wildcats have rushed for negative yardage the past three Pac-10 football games, all of which were losses.
Throughout the past year, Chris Henry was the anticipated starter for the Wildcats. However, a lack of production has spread the carries thin in the Arizona backfield.
Henry believes that the capability of establishing the running game lies on the running backs and believes that things will start to come together today against perhaps the worst run defense in the country in Stanford.
"I have only gotten the ball sparingly so far, but from a running back standpoint we have to hit it and get it," said Henry. "Whenever we see a hole we have to hit it. They are not going to be large huge gaping holes and the offensive line is doing the best that they can right now."
A lot of attention has been paid to the lack of production on the offensive line and the lack of a running game seems to rest on their shoulders. However, Henry says they should not carry the load and believes they are playing with everything they have thus far.
"It is not a lack of effort by the offensive line at all," says Henry. "They all play with their heart and play with 100%. We (the running backs) just have to run the ball better and establish the run."
Heading into the season the big question surrounding the running game was the lack of experience. The Wildcats lost four-year starter Mike Bell and backup/starter Gilbert Harris to graduation last season, however, Henry doesn't believe that inexperience is the cause of the running games problems.
"I don't believe that the problem is inexperience," he said. "It bothers me when I am watching film and I notice there is one person here or one person there that could have made a block which would have sprung the running back for a long run. Again, the offensive line is doing better every game and trying to do better and they have been progressing."
With high hopes to start the year, one would think confidence would be shattered at a mid season record of 2-4, however, that is apparently not the case.
"I think we all have a very positive attitude, but it gets to a point where you have to have positive play to compliment your positive attitude and from an offensive standpoint there has been no positive play," said Henry.
The hope is that this upcoming game against the Stanford Cardinal will allow the emergence of positive play on the offensive end. The Wildcats are near last in the NCAA in rushing yardage, and the Cardinals are near last in rushing defense. Something has to give and the team to seize the opportunity could come out with a victory.
"We see Stanford as an opportunity, but we have to capitalize on it," said Henry. "We have been presented with opportunities throughout the season and we have yet to seize them. So we have to go in and the offense has to seize the opportunity.
"We have to put everything on the line this weekend. The offense has to play as if this is the last football game ever being played. How would you want to remember yourself having played? This is one of those situations and we have to come out with a win."
If Henry and the Arizona running backs do not struggle and can establish a threatening running game, then they will be on the inside track to a win early. If not, then the long season will continue.