KELLY: Tight end trauma - Tucson News Now

KELLY: Tight end trauma

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© (Boston Globe) Arizona originated the type of tight end they will face for a 3rd straight week. © (Boston Globe) Arizona originated the type of tight end they will face for a 3rd straight week.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

You've heard me and, the man who knows better than any other, the ex-tight end Glenn Howell, talk the past few weeks about the Arizona Wildcats defense or lack there of against opposing teams tight ends.

It is a huge weakness for the Cats at the moment and the USC Trojans are another team that comes to town with big dudes that can go across the middle and down the seams.

Yes you've heard about wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Lee. They are the two main threats for poster-boy quarterback Matt Barkley. But after those two guys comes sophomore Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble.

Grimble is third on the team in catches with 13 and Telfer, fourth with eight. That is a far cry from Lee and Woods who have a combined 104 receptions, but the two tight ends also have five touchdowns which means that Barkley is finding them when they are open in the secondary.

Grimble averages 16 yards per catch. The most of Barkley's primary receivers.

Arizona on the other hand has been blitzed by tight end play the last two games. Stanford's Zach Ertz and Levine Toiolo along with Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins have combined for 19 catches for 315 yards and three touchdowns.

That's almost 17 yards per catch.

I took that to the defense this week to find out how they plan to stop the Trojan tight ends.

The consensus from the players is you have to be physical with them, yet in the last two games as Glenn has stated the tight end is often getting a free release off the line of scrimmage.

I asked head coach Rich Rodriguez about that this week and he contends the key to stopping the tight ends is being able to put pressure on the quarterback.

The Wildcats have not really succeeded at that this season. What they might be able to do is try and confuse Barkley with different coverages against his tight end. The odd stack defense is more suited to moving defenders around and creating multiple looks for the offense.

The linebackers also have to be able to recognize when the tight end is going on a route versus staying in to block.

On several plays against the Huskies it appeared that the Cats were fooled by what the tight was doing and were left grasping for Seferian-Jenkins as he ran by them.

There are some dynamite tight ends in this league, all of whom could find themselves playing on Sundays.

Sadly what the Wildcats will deal with for a third straight week might be an invention of their own doing. All of these tight ends are in the mold of Rob Gronkowski (UA '09) who has become the most prolific tight end in the National Football League since leaving Tucson.

The ever changing rules that favor offensive football have made the evolution of the tight end position most beneficial for coaches who want to throw the football.

Copyright 2012 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

David Kelly is a sports anchor/reporter for Tucson News Now who covered the NFL's Cleveland Browns for four seasons.

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