STANFORD -- No. 18 Stanford prides itself on playing power football in the new age of spread offenses. Cardinal players like nothing more than an old-fashioned pitched battle at the line of scrimmage.
"I wish teams would literally line up with 12 people on the ball and just try to run, because that's what football is," nose guard Terrence Stephens said. "It's man versus man, especially in the trenches."
Stanford's front seven defenders might prefer crashing into opponents like medieval infantrymen, but they have to mind the gaps Saturday when facing Arizona's high-flying offense.
The Cardinal needs to slow the Wildcats' zone-read spread in a Pac-12 homecoming game starting at noon for any chance to rebound from a 17-13 defeat to Washington last week.
"They are going to stretch you laterally and vertically," coach David Shaw said. "It's a different spread offense than Oregon. And different from what you will see from UCLA. It takes you two days to get a feel for what you are going to see."
It's the brainchild of mad football scientist Rich Rodriguez. The new Arizona coach widely known for effectively using the spread offense has found instant success in the Sonora desert.
"All of us coaches said when he got hired we had hoped it would take at least a year to start showing signs," Shaw said. "But it really hasn't. The quarterback is the perfect fit."
Fifth-year senior Matt Scott is compiling big numbers for the
Scott has completed 31 passes each to receivers Austin Hill and Dan Buckner.
The Wildcats also have 972 yards rushing, led by Ka'Deem Carey (538 yards, seven touchdowns).
After opening the season with three consecutive victories, Arizona has fallen to No. 2 Oregon and last week to No. 14 Oregon State 38-35.
But Stanford (3-1, 1-1) expects the Wildcats to make it difficult on the defense.
"These guys are going to make you defend the whole field," Shaw lamented.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.