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Oregon coach has high praise for Arizona running backs

arizona-wildcats-ucla-bruins-pac-12-line-odds-favored-home-opener-2019 Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not uncommon for an opposing coach to rave about aspects of the team they’re about to face. The more they can make the opponent look better, the more impressive it looks when beating that team.

So it wasn’t surprising to hear that Oregon Ducks coach Mario Cristobal has given high praise to the Arizona Wildcats’ running game:

Turns out, he’s not just blowing smoke. Recent data backs up Cristobal’s statement.

Arizona ranks second in the Pac-12 in rushing offense, averaging 196.5 yards per game, and the Wildcats’ 5.02 yards per carry is tops in the league.

J.J. Taylor is eighth in FBS with 817 rushing yards, with Gary Brightwell’s 443 yards the most of any No. 2 rusher in the Pac-12.

Per Pro Football Focus, Brightwell and Taylor had the second- and third-best grade among Pac-12 running backs from last week’s games when they combined for 275 yards in the loss at UCLA.

Arizona’s run game faces a tough challenge when Oregon comes to town Saturday. The Ducks are second in the conference in defending the run, allowing 116.3 yards per game.