Arizona's Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore form arguably the best defensive end tandem in the Pac-10, and Cal right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has had the misfortune of going up against both of them.
It was especially difficult in 2008, when Reed had two sacks and a forced fumble during the Wildcats' 42-27 win. So Schwartz knows Saturday's game in Tucson will be the offensive line's toughest challenge so far this season.
"They're really good with pass pressure, but they're also really good against the run," Schwartz said. "It'll be a tough matchup."
Elmore finished last season second in the Pac-10 with 101/2 sacks. Reed was limited by injuries and had just two sacks, but he had eight in 2008. This year, Reed has 21/2 sacks and Elmore has 11/2.
"The two defensive ends can really get after you and put a lot of pressure on your tackles," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "They're a good front, and we're going to have to protect and try to stay out of obvious passing situations."
With Lolomana Mikaele and Justin Washington playing at high levels at defensive tackle -- Washington leads the team with four sacks -- the line has been a major reason for Arizona's defensive success this season. The Wildcats rank third nationally in total defense (220.3 yards allowed per game), and they have 11 sacks in three games to rank in a tie for sixth in the country.
Six of those sacks came in last week's 34-27 win over Iowa, including four in a row at the end of the game.
"Just individually and as a unit they play great defense," Schwartz said. "They pretty much shut down Iowa, and Iowa has a pretty high-powered offense."