The Arizona Wildcats look to continue their winning ways Friday night in Salt Lake City against the Utah Utes in a pivotal Pac-12 South battle.
Arizona (3-3, 2-1) is coming off a 24-17 home win against Cal. Utah is (3-2, 1-2) is entering off a huge win against then-No. 14 Stanford.
Here is what UA coaches and players said about the Utes during media availability this week. Our first glimpse at Utah can be read here.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin on Utah: “They’re the No. 1 defense in the league statistically. No. 1 run defense in the league. No. 1 red zone in the league. So it’s the best defense in the league right now and they’ve got a lot of experience, a lot of size, and a lot of athleticism and they put them all together. They haven’t given up a bunch of big plays. They have limited people in their run game. Chase Hansen has been right behind Colin Schooler for No. 1 and No. 2 in the league in tackles for loss.”
Sumlin on the challenges of having a short week: “The combination of recovery and preparation. Particularly when you have to travel in that short week also. ... You have to give your student athletes a day off during the week. The challenge is recovery and preparation. How you do that is important.”
Arizona linebacker Tony Fields II: “They’ve got a couple playmakers. They’ve got (Britain Covey), the receiver, and they got an athletic quarterback (Tyler Huntley), a running back who’s pretty athletic and their o-line is obviously pretty big.”
Arizona center Josh McCauley: “We’ve watched a lot of film so far, and Utah’s got a very stout d-line. Their run defense is very good, so it’s going to be a battle up front, so we’re getting ready for it.
“For how big they are, their athleticism is pretty good. They got some big guys up front that can still move, which we haven’t seen a whole lot this year — guys being 330+ (pounds). So that’s going to be a challenge, but we’re working for it.”
McCauley on what Arizona needs to do to have success against a front like that: “For us up front it’s all about being on the same page. We’re going just going to what we’re coached to do, run the calls that we’re coached to call, and try and get a bigger push this week. That’s something we’re struggling with. We’re not really moving people the way we should, so we need to start doing that.”
McCauley on avoiding a slow start or weak finish: “That was one thing we’ve been emphasizing all week: play four quarters of great football. We got to the first quarter (against Cal) where everyone was pumped to come out, and the first couple drives we put a touchdown and field goal. Then it kind of fizzled off, so we have to continue to build off that and continue to play the entire game.”
Arizona WR Cedric Peterson on Utah:“They’re pretty stout on defense. They fly to the ball well, their d-line and linebackers are pretty good. Their secondary is pretty good as well. It’s a really big game for us. We have to be on our A-game, and I think we’re ready for the competition this Friday.
“They’ve played a tough few teams. Stanford, they shut down their running game pretty good. One of their corners (Jaylon Johnson) had a 100-yard interception, so they’re not going to make too many mistakes. We have to be on top of our game and I feel like the one-on-one matchups is where it’s going to be at, and we’re ready for the task at hand.”