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October 15, 2008

Three and out: UA happy at home

It's an important weekend for the UA football team with a huge game at home against Cal. Here's a few thoughts on where the team heading into the Cal game.

Home Sweet Home:

If only every game could be played at Arizona Stadium the Arizona Wildcats would be ecstatic.

The 'Cats continue to play better at home than on the road - as most teams do - but that trend has been obvious as of late. UA is 3-0 on its home turf this season while dropping two of three contests on the road.

"I think the comforts of being home, offensively you seem to execute a little bit better and the crowd noise and the energy picks up both sides of the field," head coach Mike Stoops said. "On the road you are usually going to be in some tough situations and you really have to concentrate on your execution."

The Wildcats will play four of their last six contests in the friendly confines of Tucson but those games will provide their toughest opponents of the season. Despite the stiffer competition, a home crowd can provide an extra boost to the players.

"We have our fans with us and every time there is a big play the fans get into it and it gets us all hyped," Ricky Elmore said. "It's a good thing we have this game at home because it gets me jacked up and ready to play."

Arizona has won its last five home games and seven of the last nine if you date back to the start of 2007 and the Wildcats will hope to continue that trend this weekend.

"There is always motivation at home," Stoops continued. "Your crowd supports you so much stronger at home than they do on the road and that is a big thing. It will be a big factor. I hope we can get a lot of energy in our stadium this week and create an atmosphere that this is a big game for us and hopefully it will help us."

Exposed run defense:

The Wildcat defense continued to struggle against power running backs Saturday as two backs went over the century mark for the Stanford Cardinal. Toby Gerhart had 116 yards and Anthony Kimble had 110.

Arizona's run defense surrenders 137 yards a game but gave up 286 to Stanford. It is an obvious area of concern in preparations for California.

"Correcting that is going to take a lot of work but we gotta do it," defensive lineman Brooks Reed said. "Cal is gonna see that and try to take advantage of that."

In Arizona's four wins it has held opposing offenses to an average of 79 yards per contest but that number rises to 253 yards in its two losses.

"This is something that we're gonna stick it and work with all week because this is something in our two losses that's hurt us a lot," Elmore said. "That's all we're gonna work at all week, get better at the run defense so we'll be ready for it."

Third go to receiver:

Mike Thomas and Rob Gronkowski are the two top targets in the Air Zona offense but a third reliable weapon established himself on Saturday.

Junior wideout Terrell Turner was on the receiving end of 10 passes for 175 yards as he made just about every big play for the Wildcat offense over the weekend.

"In a game like that they're going to double guys and they gave me opportunities to show what I can do as an individual but to also help my team out," Turner told GOAZCATS.com's Kara Bauman in her weekly interview.

Statistically, Turner is the squad's second leading receiver with 28 catches for 362 yards and one score this season, much of the production came when Gronkowski was out with mononucleosis.

But Turner is not the only Wildcat capable of making the big play.

UA has had 15 different players catch a pass this season and four of them are well over triple digits in receiving yards. In addition, seven different players have caught a pass for a score.

Scott Karpen

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