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October 6, 2012

Arizona's 'fire ants' to meet 'elephant'-sized Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. - Arizona will seek to avoid a three-game slide and a fall to .500 Saturday when it takes on No. 18-ranked Stanford at noon.

The Wildcats (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12 Conference) also are looking for their first road win and first league win this season. But to do so, UA will have to overcome a rash of injuries, particularly on defense.

Safety Jared Tevis, listed as questionable for the contest with a sprained ankle, tweeted late Friday night that he will not play. The sophomore landed awkwardly after leaping to defend a pass in the Wildcats' 38-35 home loss to Oregon State last week.

True freshman safety Wayne Capers will likely see extended action and possibly start in Tevis' place.

Also out will be defensive end Dominique Austin (foot), and questionable for the contest are center Kyle Quinn (ankle), defensive end Reggie Gilbert (ankle) and right guard Trace Biskin (toe), who missed last week's game with the same injury.

"There are a lot of guys that are a little bit beat up," UA head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Being a really small team, and way too small defensively, is cause for concern

The losses on defense will only make the task tougher against the Cardinal (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12), who are coming off an upset loss at Washington - one week removed from an upset victory of their own against then-No. 2 USC. The loss dropped Stanford 13 spots in The Associated Press Top 25 poll.

UA will have to deal with the size of the Cardinal, particularly on the offensive line, at tight end and running back. Very few of the linemen weigh less than 300 pounds, senior tight end Levine Toilolo checks in at 6-8 and 265 pounds and Stepfan Taylor is a 215-pound workhorse.

Stanford will likely run the ball plenty against a UA defense that ranks 11th in the conference with 166.8 rushing yards allowed per contest.

Rodriguez said competing with the Cardinal's size is like figuring out "how to eat an elephant."

"One bite at a time, right?" Rodriguez said. "We might be like a bunch of fire ants or something, jumping all over those guys. It may take five or six of them.

"So the first guy to get there, hit 'em as hard as you can and hold on for dear life, and hope that the cavalry comes to help you out."

Where the 'Cats may have some success, despite a lack of defensive pressure, is against Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes. The senior has struggled lately, completing less than 50 percent of his pass attempts in the 17-13 loss to the Huskies - including a late interception on the final Stanford drive that sealed the game.

Although Nunes has had the unenviable task of replacing star quarterback Andrew Luck, UA linebacker Jake Fischer said the defense has to respect his abilities.

"He's got a scholarship, too, so it's not like he's bad, or anything," Fischer said.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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