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October 14, 2006The positives that you can pull from Arizona's 27-7 loss to UCLA last week are few and far between. However, the statistic that is the most apparent is that Arizona held UCLA to just 65 yards on the ground.
Coming into the game, UCLA running back Chris Markey was ranked 13th in the nation in rushing, averaging just over 113 yards per game. Arizona's defense played together, and held Markey to just 40 yards on 14 carries.
Looking past last week, to today's game against Stanford, Arizona defensive tackles Lionel Dotson and Donald Horton feel that there is not a need for concern, but a need for a spark.
"We've just got to come out there with the right mindset to do it," Horton said. "I don't know how to explain it; once game time comes we've just got to start believing. Once the game starts, that's when we start rolling and getting our confidence back."
Prior to the start of the season, most expectations fell in the category of the Wildcats secondary being one of the best in the nation, and the rush defense needing some work.
However, midway through the 2006 schedule, that scenario is switched. Arizona's rush defense ranks 55th in the nation, while the Cats' pass defense is hovering in the top 100, and currently at 92nd.
Dotson thinks that the reason the pass defense hasn't lived up to expectations is because of the pressure that the defensive line brings while getting into the backfield.
"The quarterbacks that we played get rid of the ball," Dotson said. "They see us and throw it away or run a whole bunch of boots on us. We've got to get there faster to give our secondary a chance so they don't have to cover all day."
Getting more pressure on the opposing quarterback is extremely important and will help the entire defense, and will alter the game plan of the opposition.
"It's real important. It's going to help our defensive backs a lot," Horton said. "It's going to change up their passing game, change the routes they run and slow them down a lot."
Dotson, like many players on the team, feels that the main problem that Arizona has is the execution during the game.
"We don't execute every play," Dotson said. "We've got to execute better as an offense and defense. As a team we win and lose together."
When watching the game film, it is no secret that the weakness of the Wildcats offense is greatest in the running game. However there has been some cohesiveness over the previous weeks.
"I think we're all getting closer. The last few games our offensive line has protected a lot better," Horton said. "Running backs haven't seen the best holes in the world, but I think were running a little bit better than what we have been doing."
Horton said that the practices have been running smoothly and that winning is just a matter of translating everything from the practice field, to the game.
"We can do it," he said. "We have good practices we prepare well. We're going out there believing that we can win and I think we can. We see it in practice and we just have a few kinks that need to get out and we'll be ready."
Today Arizona takes on Stanford, who is currently last in the Pac-10 with an overall record of 0-6. It is a must win game for the Wildcats, who at this point in the season don't really care how they get their victories.
"We need to win, everybody wants to win and nobody wants to lose," Dotson said. "We're going to get the 'W' and we don't care how. A win is a win."