60-of-79. That's 76 percent.
That's the passing percentage of the opposing quarterbacks that have played the Arizona Wildcats through two games. NAU Lumberjack quarterback Cary Grossart went 20-of-26 for 179 yards against the Wildcats before Oklahoma State Cowboys' gunslinger Brandon Weeden threw a school record 42 completions for 397 yards through the air.
And now? The Wildcats face Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck, who is the undoubted best quarterback in the nation -- bar none. That's not only bad Luck -- I have filled my quota for puns -- for the Arizona defense, it's bad, bad news. Especially after we saw both NAU and OSU pick on cornerback Shaquille Richardson, Saturday's game at Arizona Stadium could very well get ugly.Let's look at any positives to cling on to. Uh ... stutter ... uh. Well, safety Robert Golden banged up his knee against the Cowboys and his replacement, Mark Watley, looked solid, grabbing a pick with the Cowboys threatening to score. Fellow safety Marquis Flowers, while he hasn't look exceptional, has two games under his belt.
And while we haven't seen teams throw toward Trevin Wade opposite of Richardson, he has taken away a part of the field.
But just how much will Luck pick the Arizona defense apart? Should the Wildcats go with a nickel or dime defense, they'll have the speed to contend with a receiving core that is solid but nothing outright scary outside of wideout Chris Owusu. And unlike the OSU defense that threw bubble screens out of a spread formation (before receivers easily bounced to the outside for big gains), the Stanford pro-style offense will be easier to contain to the middle of the field.
The key will be the defensive line and linebacking crew holding the run. Sure, Luck will make his impressive throws to his receiving crew, but the Wildcats should theoretically be able to contain the Cardinal should their defensive backs execute; whether they did or not last Thursday, well, who know what was up with that?
So it all comes down to the defensive line and linebacking crew hitting the Stanford offensive line at the point of attack. Making the offense fall on Luck, though he's good, is still better than having all the options open for Stanford. And not giving him time and set feet will still go a little ways, even if he's capable of hitting his throws while on the run.
Can the defense show some push? The Wildcats better make it happen for their sake, otherwise Luck is going to have more than easy throws -- he'll have the time to make big-time plays deep or off play-action.
If he can do that, well, Grossart and Weeden's numbers might look, dare I say, not that impressive.