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Rodriguez: UW game will be ‘great challenge’ for Wildcats

The Arizona Wildcats are well aware of the fact that the No. 16 Washington Huskies will be the best team they’ve faced in 2013.

After all, following a non-conference slate of Northern Arizona, UNLV and Texas-San Antonio, there aren’t many schools that wouldn’t be a step up in terms of competition.

But when the Wildcats take the field for Saturday’s 4 p.m. kickoff in Seattle, they’ll look across the field and see a team with a lot of similarities to themselves.

Washington running back Bishop Sankey, who was the nation’s leading rusher before being “limited” to 77 yards on four carries in a blowout win over Idaho State last week, has a similar running style to Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey.

“They’re guys who make you put them on the ground,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday at his weekly press conference. “They’re not going down with just an arm tackle. They’re two of the best in the country.”

While UW quarterback Keith Price is a better passer than Arizona’s B.J. Denker, both can make big plays with their feet — and use their feet to create big passing plays.

“Mobile and athletic quarterbacks … any coach will tell you that they’re tough to go against,” Rodriguez said. “You have to be disciplined on your coverage downfield and you have to keep it contained.”

And both offenses do everything they can to put the most pressure possible on opposing defenses—namely running a fast-paced attack that gets even quicker when moving the ball effectively.

“It’s stressful to go against, and that’s why we do it,” Rodriguez said. “Like us, if they get multiple first downs, they can control the tempo and rhythm that can put more stress on the defense.”

Washington found out how stressful the fast-paced UA offense can be during a 52-17 loss in Tucson last year that Rodriguez called the Wildcats’ most complete game of the season. And the Wildcats have used that blowout win as a jumping-off point of sorts.

But facing Washington in Husky Stadium is a much taller task than facing them in the Old Pueblo. Still, Denker said he’s excited to go into his first major road test as the Wildcats’ starting quarterback.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories about it … we were talking about it with teammates who played there before,” Denker said. “They said it’s probably the loudest crowd they’ve played at. I anticipate it being nuts.

“I personally like playing on the road more than at home for the simple fact that you can silence a crowd, I think that’s the craziest thing as a competitor.”