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September 29, 2006

Johnson and UA defense ready for Stanback

Last year's loss to Washington may have been a case of overlooking an opponent or simply not being prepared. However, there will be no excuses for Arizona on Saturday as the players know exactly what they are getting into, especially since they still have that blowout loss in their minds.

One player that has been reflecting on last year's loss to Washington is safety Michael Johnson, who says there were numerous factors that led to last season's disappointing loss.

"It happens like that to some teams," he said. "Some teams play well one week and they get complacent and over confident and they don't prepare for the next team and that is what happened last year. We were unprepared and went in there and thought they were going to hand the win to us and we lost."

One major reason why Arizona lost last season was its inability to contain Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback. Stanback had the memorable Hail Mary at the end of the first half that really seemed to put Arizona on the ropes going into the half.

"There was no way they were going to complete that pass," said Johnson. "It was a miracle for them and they completed the pass. I guess it took a little bit of wind out of us going into halftime."

The coaching staff has been stressing the ability of Stanback throughout the week and Johnson and the rest of the defense know that stopping him will be the key to winning.

The key with Stanback is containing him on the ground, something that Johnson is fully aware of.

"The challenge is to contain him and minimize his rushing yards," Johnson said. "He gets loose and gets a lot of rushing yards; like it will be third and long and he'll run for a first down and that takes a lot of wind out of the defense.

"If you can stop him from running and make him throw the ball, hopefully he'll throw some interceptions and create turnovers."

While Arizona had some trouble stopping running quarterback Danny Southall of Stephen F. Austin, Johnson believes that Stanback is likely the fastest quarterback hey will have seen thus far.

"I think he is the fastest quarterback we'll face so far," he said. "Stanback, you saw him last year, he ran all around the field a lot. He is pretty athletic also but our defensive line should be able to contain him. We have plenty of speed on the d-line and hopefully they will be able to gobble him up."

In order to prepare for Stanback, Johnson says that the team has increased the pace of practice in anticipation of seeing Stanback challenge them on the ground.

"In practice you have to be more physical and up-paced," he said.

Whether Arizona will win the game on Saturday remains to be seen. However, the one thing for certain is that there will be no surprises.

Arizona will be prepared come game time. It is just a matter of executing what Michael Johnson and the rest of the team has been practicing throughout the week.

Jason Scheer

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