No. 5 Oregon (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12) at Arizona (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 23 Time: 1:30 p.m. (MST)
Location: Tucson, Ariz. (Arizona Stadium -- 56,037)
Television Broadcast: ABC/ESPN2 (reverse mirror)
TV Broadcasters: Mike Patrick (pxp), Ed Cunningham (analyst) and Jeannine Edwards (sideline)
UA Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network, 1290 AM and 107.5 FM in Tucson (complete list of affiliates on page 4)
UA Radio Broadcasters: Brian Jeffries (pxp), Lamont Lovett (color analyst), Dana Cooper (sideline analyst)
UA Spanish Radio: 990 AM (Francisco Romero, pxp; Marco Rincon, analyst)
National Radio: ESPN Radio (Marc Kestecher, pxp; Tom Ramsey, analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 136, XM 205
Oregon-Arizona Series History
All-Time: Oregon leads, 24-14
First Meeting: Dec. 4, 1937 (Arizona 21, Oregon 7 -- at Tucson)
Last Meeting: Sept. 22, 2012 (Oregon 49, Arizona 0 -- at Eugene)
Streak/Note: Oregon has won last five meetings
Some Game Themes: Arizona wraps up its home slate and tries to gather itself following a pair of deflating home defeats the last two weeks … The Wildcats will rely on the emotional pick-me-up and leadership of its 18-player senior class, which plays its final home game at Arizona Stadium … Awaiting the Wildcats is a showdown with BCS-minded Oregon, a high-flying offensive squad that was thrust back into top spot in the Pac-12 North standings a week ago … Arizona seeks to get back to its hard-edge mentality that slipped when it was unable to shake off a loss to nationally-ranked UCLA earlier this month … Now the Wildcats get a crack at another top 25 team, and there is some history with highly-ranked Oregon squads falling in the desert over the last decade … UA must find a way to capitalize in the red zone, something that has plagued the Wildcats the last two weeks and something that also bit them on the road at Oregon a season ago … Ka’Deem Carey continues his chase for the school rushing record, and an “average” game makes that a realistic possibility this week. But 117 yards may not be easy to come by against the Ducks, who are the only team the last two seasons to hold the Wildcats under 100 rushing yards as a team … Marcus Mariota poses yet another dual-threat challenge for the UA defense, which has lost a bit of its stinginess on November … The Cats will need every bit of sure-tackling along with proper alignment to contain the highest-scoring offense in the league … Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner bring an explosive run threat, while De’Anthony Thomas can make plays all over the field … Already bowl-eligible, Arizona tries to firm up its place in the postseason … The Wildcats seek to snap a five-game losing streak in the series, having last defeated the Ducks in Tucson in 2007 … The third home game in as many weeks for Arizona.
The Coaches: Arizona - Rich Rodriguez (West Virginia '86), second year at Arizona (14-9) and 19th as a head coach overall (134-93-2). At Arizona, Rodriguez’s teams are 9-4 at Arizona Stadium, 4-5 on the road, 1-0 at neutral sites, 7-9 in Pac-12 games and 1-0 in bowl games (2012 Gildan New Mexico). Rodriguez was introduced as the 30th head coach of the UA football program on Nov. 22, 2011. He carries Division I records of 14-9 at Arizona, 60-26 at West Virginia (2001-2007) and 15-22 at Michigan (2008-10). He began his head coaching career at Salem University (W.Va.) in 1988 and then coached at Glenville State (W.Va.) from 1990-96. Rodriguez's West Virginia teams were Big East Champions in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 while appearing in two BCS bowls, the 2005 Sugar Bowl with a victory over Georgia for an 11-1 record and a victory over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl to finish 10-2 shortly after Rodriguez had left for Michigan. His teams have appeared in bowls in eight of 11 seasons an FBS head coach … Oregon – Mark Helfrich (Southern Oregon '86), first year at Oregon(9-1) and 1st as a head coach overall (9-1). A 39-year-old Oregon native, who served as a graduate assistant in Eugene in 1997, has seven years of experience as an offensive coordinator at two BCS schools and 15 years coaching quarterbacks. Named Oregon's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on April 30, 2009 following three seasons in the same capacity at Colorado (2006-08), five years as quarterbacks coach at Arizona State (2001-05) which included his final three campaigns in Tempe, Ariz., as passing game coordinator, and three seasons as quarterbacks coach at Boise State (1998-2000). He began his coaching career as running backs coach at his alma mater in 1996 before playing and coaching (offensive coordinator) in Europe with the Vienna (Austria) Vikings in the winter of 1997.
Last Week: Arizona appeared to be kicking itself for letting a game against UCLA slip away the week prior, and Washington State rolled into town and kicked the Wildcats, 24-17, last Saturday at Arizona Stadium. It was the Cougars who were more confident and made big plays throughout, taking an early 10-0 lead and then rallying in the second half for the victory. Connor Halliday passed for 319 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cougars, who found a bit of a spark in the running game, too. Marcus Mason put the Cougs on the board early with a 15-yard run, and Andrew Furney added a 24-yard field goal to put the visitors up 10 in the first period. Ka’Deem Carey did his best to keep the Wildcats in the game, scoring on a 30-yard run near the end of the first quarter and adding a 7-yard touchdown reception to give UA a 14-10 halftime lead. Washington State asserted itself in the second half, keeping the Wildcats out of the endzone and scoring twice itself. Halliday gave the Cougs’ a 17-14 lead with a 23-yard pass to River Craycraft early in the third, before Arizona tied the game on Jake Smith’s 25-yard field goal on the ensuing possession. The game remain knotted deep into the fourth quarter when Smith pulled a 34-yard field goal, which could have put UA on top. Instead, Halliday marched the Cougs 80 yards over 4:44 and hit Isiah Myers for a 25-yard touchdown. The Cats’ comeback bid came up short as B.J. Denker’s scrambling pass to Samajie Grant in the endzone was caught out of bounds as time expired, giving WSU its first victory over Arizona since 2003. Carey finished the game with 132 rushing yards – his 13-straight 100-yard rushing game.
2012 Arizona-Oregon Flashback: What was billed as a track meet turned into a an old fashioned defensive struggle in the first half before Oregon pulled away with relative ease in the second half to win 49-0 last Sept., 22, in Eugene, Ore. The shutout was certainly a surprise given the Wildcats' ability to score points early in the season, but miscues and missed opportunities, notably on five redzone trips, doomed the upset-minded Arizonans. The defense, though, gave the Cats plenty of chances, forcing the Ducks to give up the ball on four of its first five possessions. Even after Oregon went up 7-0 and seemed to be gaining momentum, the UA defense stiffened and held the Ducks to field goals on 17 and 16-play drives to close the first half. The 13-0 halftime deficit kept the Cats within reach, but Oregon's defense stole the show and forced UA to punt on its first four possessions of the second half, before three interceptions in the next four drives squashed any hope of a comeback. In the meantime, UO's electric De'Anthony Thomas was held to 97 all-purpose yards in the contest, but his 36-yard punt return set up a quick score midway through the third quarter as the Ducks began to pull away. Two interception returns for scores inflated the scoreboard tally and took some credit away from the UA defense, which did hold the Ducks to 4.3 yards per carry - a good standard against a team that entered the contest averaging 6.2 yards per tote. Arizona's swarming secondary broke up nine Oregon passes, and Jonathan McKnight snared his third interception in as many games. Jared Tevis led the way with 12 tackles, two breakups and two forced fumbles, while Sir Thomas Jackson set a career high with 10 tackles and Tra'Mayne Bondurant also added 10 stops, including a career-best 3.0 for loss. Offensively, Matt Scott struggled with a career-high three interceptions, while Ka'Deem Carey was held to 79 yards on 21 rushes. David Richards was the leading receiver, with then-career-highs for catches (7) and yards (50).
Senior Salute: Eighteen Arizona seniors are slated to play their final games at Arizona Stadium this Saturday. It is a group that has endured a lot during its time over the last four or five seasons, including a coaching change, several top-25 victories and some crushing defeats. For those like Terrence Miller and Jake Fischer, it’s been a five-year path filled with adversity. They have played in three bowl games and have a chance to become just the second class in school history to participate in a bowl four times in five years. Here are the 18 seniors set to be honored this week: Eric Bender-Ramsay, Kylan Butler, Brian Chacon, B.J. Denker, Jake Fischer, Marquis Flowers, Tevin Hood, Daniel Jenkins, Terrence Miller, Richard Morrison, Chris Putton, Derrick Rainey, Shaquille Richardson, Justin Samuels, Jake Smith, Sione Tuihalamaka, Justin Washington and Shane Wilson.
Bowl-Eligible: The Wildcats have themselves bowl-eligible with still two regular season games remaining. The bowl picture is unclear and 10 conference teams still have hopes of holiday plans, so there is plenty of work left to do. Even so, Arizona has positioned itself for a bowl bid and should it play in a postseason game this year, will do so for the fifth time in six years. The only other time the Wildcats have gone bowling five times in six seasons was from 1989-1994 under head coach Dick Tomey.
Against The Top 25: Saturday’s showdown is Arizona’s third chance at knocking off an Associated Press Top 25 team after dropping a contests to No. 16 Washington (31-13 on Sept. 28) and to No. 16 UCLA (31-26 on Nov. 9). Last season, the Wildcats upset No. 18 Oklahoma State (Sept. 8) and No. 10 USC (Oct. 27) to give Arizona at least one win against a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll in eight of the previous nine seasons. The highest-ranked foe to go down in the last nine seasons was then-No. 2 Oregon, 34-24, in Tucson on Nov. 15, 2007. Historically, Arizona is 41-103-1 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. Rich Rodriguez is 2-6 such games at Arizona.
Carey Up For Top Honors: Junior running back Ka’Deem Carey has been named a semifinalist for three prominent national awards, including the Doak Walker Award (Outstanding Running Back), the Maxwell Award (Outstanding Player) and the Walter Camp Award (Player of the Year). Carey has rushed for at least 119 yards in all nine games he has played this season. He has gained 1,353 rushing yards on 242 attempts with 12 touchdowns. He also has 178 receiving yards on 25 catches with a touchdown, giving him 1,531 all-purpose yards. The Tucson, Ariz., native ranks second nationally with 150.3 rushing yards per game and is No. 3 nationally with 170.1 total yards from scrimmage per game.
Quite the Encore: Running back Ka’Deem Carey set a school record with 1,929 rushing yards and led the nation with 148.4 yards per game as a sophomore. He’s followed up that All-American campaign with another one of the top seasons in program history. Carey has rushed for 1,353 yards and 12 touchdowns entering play this week, putting him No. 4 on the school’s single-season rushing charts. Here’s the top five:
|Ka’Deem Carey||1,929 (303)||2012|
|Trung Canidate||1,602 (253)||1999|
|Art Luppino||1,359 (179)||1954|
|Ka’Deem Carey||1,353 (242)||2013|
|Art Luppino||1,313 (209)||1955|
A Scoring Machine: Running back Ka’Deem Carey has a nose for the endzone. The junior has 12 rushing touchdowns and one receiving this year, giving him 41 career rushing scores and 45 total touchdowns in three seasons. The school record-holder in both categories is the Cactus Comet (Art Luppino), who tallied 44 scores on the ground and 48 total in his career from 1953-56. Carey now has scored 270 points in his career, which is fourth-most in school history and second-most for non-kickers. Luppino holds the best mark for a non-kicker (337) but also did score 49 points on extra points. Max Zendejas holds the overall career scoring record with 360 points (123 extra points, 79 made field goals.
Carey Nears All-Purpose Record: Most of the focus is where Ka’Deem Carey ranks in the school rushing records, but the junior is also closing in on the top all-purpose mark in Arizona history. Carey has moved into the No. 4 place on the school’s all-purpose yardage chart with his 4,956 yards (3,707 rushing, 684 receiving and 565 on kickoff returns). The Tucson, Ariz., native ranks No. 7 among all active FBS players for career all-purpose yardage. With 44 more yards, Carey can become only the second player in program history to eclipse 5,000 career all-purpose yards. Here’s a look at the top five:
The Streak: Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey has rushed for 100 yards in a school-record 13-consecutive games, which also leads all active FBS players. In the 13 games, Carey has gained 2,267 yards on 346 carries with 22 touchdowns. That’s a heady 174.4 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game, while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He has collected at least 130 all-purpose yards in each of those 13 games, and has 2,501 yards from scrimmage with receiving factored in. For more notes and statistics regarding Carey, see pages 8-9 of this release.
Dynamic Duo: Running back Ka’Deem Carey and quarterback B.J. Denker have formed quite a tandem in the backfield. The duo has accounted for 33 of Arizona’s 39 offensive touchdowns, with Carey tallying 12 rushing scores plus one receiving, and Denker adding 11 on the ground and 12 through the air. They have combined to rush for 2,062 yards on 380 attempts, while Denker’s 1,888 passing yards give him 2,597 yards of total offense this season.
Denker Dashes to a Record: Senior quarterback B.J. Denker ranks as Arizona’s second-leading rusher with 709 yards on 138 attempts this season. That’s a 70.9 yards per game clip that actually ranks seventh individually in the Pac-12. The Torrance, Calif., native has set a modern day school record for rushing by a quarterback with his 709 yards, which is 100 more than the next-best total turned in by Ronnie Veal (566) in 1987. The lefty also has 11 rushing touchdowns this season, which is another top mark, and he set the school’s single-game record for rushing by a quarterback with 192 yards on 15 carries at Colorado (Oct. 26). Here’s where Denker’s still young season ranks compared to other running quarterbacks at Arizona:
|B.J. Denker||2013||138-709, 11 TD|
|Ronnie Veal||1987||161-566, 9 TD|
|Keith Smith||1996||136-546, 8 TD|
|Matt Scott||2012||113-506, 6 TD|
|Chuck Levy||1991||128-505, 7 TD (4 QB starts)|
(Red) Zoned Out: Arizona has run into trouble finishing drives in recent weeks, which has left plenty of points on the field. And considering the Wildcats have lost back-to-back one-possession games, red zone efficiency is an easy culprit. Arizona has scored on only 6-of-10 red zone opportunities over the last two games, with those 10 possessions resulting in only four touchdowns. A 60-percent overall mark and a 40-percent touchdown clip won’t cut it in the Pac-12 at home or on the road. The two-week slump has dropped the Wildcats’ season percentages to 79-percent (all scores) and 58-percent (touchdown drives). Meanwhile, Arizona opponents are scoring on 88-percent of red zone drives, including touchdowns on 75-percent of red zone trips.
Third Down and Out: Along with the red zone struggles, the Wildcats have also lost the third down battle the last two games. Arizona’s offense has converted only 34.3 percent (11-of-32) of third downs against UCLA and Washington State, while it has allowed those schools to convert 47.1 percent (16-for-34) of their third downs. Both marks are below the season standards. Offensively, the Cats have picked up 44 percent (73-of-166) of their first down, while holding opponents to a 38 percent mark (63-of-165).
Total Offense: Even with a couple below average outputs the last two weeks, Arizona’s offense is proving to be one of the most productive in school history. The Wildcats have racked up 4,525 yards of total offense in 10 games, a 452.5 per-game average that would rank fourth-best in program history if it held up the rest of the way. Last year, UA set a new school record and finished seventh nationally with 526.2 yards per game. Otherwise, 471.9 yards per game in 1999 and 465.2 per game in 2011 are the only two seasons with better total offense averages than the 2013 Wildcats.
Nose for the Ball: Junior “spur” safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant secured his team-leading fourth interception of the season (seventh career) last week against Washington State. Bondurant is the first Wildcat to collect four or more interceptions in a season since Trevin Wade did so in 2009 (five). A native of Vallejo, Calif., Bondurant has been the Wildcats’ top defensive playmaker this season. He has 53 total tackles, including 5.5 for loss, to go with two sacks and four pass breakups. Bondurant has twice scored on intercepting returns, including 23 yards in the season-opener vs. Northern Arizona (Aug. 30) and a week later at UNLV (Sept. 7) on a 52-yard play.
Production Up Front: Arizona’s defensive front has significantly improved its production over the last two weeks. The Wildcats have registered 17 tackles for loss and eight sacks, giving them 60 tackles for loss and 18 sacks on the season. Last season, UA totaled 67 tackles for loss and 16 sacks over a 13-game season. Starting defensive linemen Sione Tuihalamaka (8.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks), Reggie Gilbert (6.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks) and Tevin Hood (5.5 TFL and 1.0 sacks) have combined for 20 tackles for loss and seven sacks this season. Last year, that trio totaled 11.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks.
Gilbert Geared Up: Junior defensive end Reggie Gilbert leads the squad with four sacks this season, boosted by a career-high two sacks last week against Washington State. The Laveen, Ariz., native has set career highs for tackles (26), tackles for loss (6.5) and sacks (4.0) in just 10 games played this season. His emergence has given the Wildcats a stronger presence up front, especially in recent games. The Wildcats have 17 tackles for loss and eight sacks over the last two contests.
Cats Get Picky: Arizona has played only 10 games and yet it has its most interceptions (13) in a season since picking off 16 passes in 2008. Junior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant leads all players with four interceptions, while corner Shaquille Richardson and free safety Jourdon Grandon have two apiece. Linebackers Marquis Flowers and Jake Fischer, corners Devin Holiday and Jonathan McKnight, and safety Will Parks each have one interception this season. The Wildcats have a pick in all but two of the 10 games.
Denk and Dunk: Senior quarterback B.J. Denker isn’t shattering passing records, but he’s put together a solid campaign in his first season as the fulltime starter. The lefty is completing nearly 60-percent of his passes (182-of-305) for 1,888 yards and has 12 touchdowns while throwing just four interceptions all season. It works out to a steady 10.4 yards per completion and 188.8 yards per game. He has developed a connection with his two youngest receivers – true freshmen Samajie Grant and Nate Phillips. The duo has combined for 77 receptions, 769 yards and seven touchdowns.
Beyond His Years: True freshman receiver Nate Phillips is turning in an impressive rookie season. The Chandler, Ariz., native is second on the squad with 36 receptions and has a team-best 454 receiving yards and another team-high six touchdown receptions. The 5-foot-7, 177-pounder has racked up 29 catches for 389 yards and six touchdowns over his last six games, an impressive 13.4 yards-per-catch mark. Phillips has emerged as a go-to target in key situations for the Wildcats, as 24 of his 36 receptions (66.7 percent) this season have resulted in a first down or a touchdown.
Scooby Doo it Wright: True freshman linebacker Scooby Wright has turned in a sterling rookie campaign as a starting linebacker. The Windsor, Calif., native is tied for the team-lead with 70 tackles through 10 games, a tally that ranks second-most nationally among all true freshman defenders. The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder also is tied for the team lead with 8.0 tackles for loss, which includes 0.5 sacks. He has started nine of 10 games, with the only missed start being last week against Washington State when the Wildcats tweaked their defensive alignment to include an extra defensive back against the pass-heavy Cougs. Wright is a hard edge player that fits well with the Arizona mentality and figures to be a mainstay for the Cats in the coming years.
Another Promising Freshman: Not to be overshadowed, Derrick Turituri is another physical true freshman linebacker that has earned immediate playing this season. At 6-foot-1, 252 pounds, Turituri has been primarily used as pass-rush specialist in Arizona’s “S.W.A.T.” defense on third downs, but has seen some snaps as a backup middle linebacker. He has totaled 10 tackles on the season, 2.5 for which have been sacks. Turituri had one of those sacks along with three tackles last week against Washington State to earn the team’s vote as defensive player of the week.
Man in the Middle: Senior middle linebacker Jake Fischer is set to play his final home game at Arizona Stadium. A local product from Ironwood Ridge High School in Oro Valley, Ariz., Fischer has played in 49 games in his Wildcat career with 30 starts. As a senior, Fischer has 61 tackles and a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown to put an exclamation mark on a tremendous Wildcat career. He has racked up 245 tackles, including 16.0 for loss, along with six fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles in his career.
#TeamKaDeem and the Running Machine: Yes, Ka’Deem Carey is arguably the most complete running back in the nation, but he would not have his gaudy statistics without some horses up front leading the charge. Carey has reaped the benefits of an experienced offensive line that has included tackles Mickey Baucus (35 career starts) and Fabbians Ebbele (34 starts), along with versatile guard Chris Putton (28 starts) for nearly all of his 3,707 career rushing yards. This year, junior college transfer Steven Gurrola has steadily stepped in to start 10 games at center, while sophomores Cayman Bundage (11 starts) and Lene Maiava (2 starts) have also been a part of the rotation the last two seasons. Added up, it’s 120 career starts for Arizona’s offensive linemen, and that continuity is a big reason why Arizona is No. 13 nationally with 263.7 rushing yards per game.
Disciplined Cats: Arizona ranks as the third-least penalized team in the Pac-12 having been flagged for only 4.6 times per game. It’s resulted in only 42.0 penalty yards per game, a figure that ranks No. 33 nationally and is a healthy improvement from a season ago when the Wildcats finished No. 77 (55.1 per game). Interestingly, Arizona’s opponents have been penalized for 58.5 yards per game – which is the 25th-most nationally for opponent penalty yards.
Classroom Cats: Arizona senior defenders Jake Fischer and Tevin Hood earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors last week, and both will now be on the ballot for CoSIDA Academic All-America voting. Fischer, a linebacker from Oro Valley, Ariz., holds a 3.36 cumulative GPA as a marketing major and has 51 tackles this season. Hood, a defensive lineman from Chandler, Ariz., holds a 3.46 cumulative GPA as a general studies major and has 32 stops, including 5.0 for loss, this year.
Turning Points: Perhaps no statistic is more indicative of Arizona’s success in recent seasons than the turnover battle. The Wildcats have won 17-consecutive games, including all eight under Rich Rodriguez, when they win the turnover battle (last loss was vs. USC on Oct. 25, 2008). Considering all games since the start of 2008 (last 73 games), Arizona is 20-2 when it wins the turnover battle, 13-10 when it ties and 8-21 when it loses the turnover battle. That adds up to a 33-12 mark when Arizona wins or ties the turnover battle. Under Rodriguez, the Wildcats are 11-2 when winning or tying the turnover battle.
Turning Points Part II: The Wildcats enter play this week with a plus-four turnover margin for the season, which is good enough for No. 38 nationally. The Wildcats have only turned the ball over 12 times while they have secured 16 takeaways in 10 contests. It’s a positive trend for Arizona, which has not finished a season with a positive turnover margin since 2008 (+6). In 2012, the Wildcats turned the ball over 28 times and gained 27. The net result was a 122-104 deficit in points scored off turnovers. So far in 2013, Arizona enjoys a 68-26 advantage in points off turnovers.
In a Rush to Win: Arizona has won 11 of its last 17 games dating to last season, a trend that may or may not coincide with a dominant rushing attack. Over their last 17 games, the Wildcats have gained 4,500 yards on 793 rushing attempts, a 5.7 yards per carry clip good enough for 264.7 yards per game. The Wildcats have rushed for 300 or more yards in six of the 15 contests with a perfect 6-0 record in those games. Arizona is 8-1 when it rushes for 250-plus yards and 9-2 when it tops the 200-yard mark.
Carey Tops 1,000 Yards: Ka’Deem Carey (242-1,353) has secured his second-consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season at Arizona, something only three other players have done in school history (Trung Canidate, 1998-90; Art Luppino, 1954-55; and Jim Upchurch, 1973-74). In 2012, Carey became the first running back to post a 1,000-yard season under head coach Rich Rodriguez since Steve Slaton did so at West Virginia in 2007. At Michigan, only dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson (2010) mounted a 1,000-yard season during Rodriguez's three seasons. At West Virginia, Slaton had three-straight 1,000-yard campaigns, including in 2007, 2006 and 2005. His quarterback during those years, Pat White, also turned in 1,000-yard seasons in 2006 and 2007. Prior to the Slaton-White years, running backs Avon Cobourne (2001 and 2002) and Quincy Wilson (2003) had 1,000-yard seasons under Rodriguez. Added up, and with Carey included, that's 11 (eleven) 1,000-yard rushers over 12 seasons as an FBS head coach for Rodriguez.
Defensive Development: What a difference a year makes for defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. In his first season implementing the 3-3-5 stack at Arizona, Casteel inherited one of the thinnest and youngest defenses in the nation evidenced by more than half of his depth chart comprising freshmen or sophomores. This year, things have shifted in his favor with more depth and more experience. In fact, Wildcat defenders have combined for 320 career starts. Senior lineman Sione Tuihalamaka and senior cornerback Shaquille Richardson lead with 34 career starts apiece, while senior linebackers Marquis Flowers and Jake Fischer boast 33 and 30 starts, respectively. Junior “spur” safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant has tallied 27 starts, including 27 of Arizona’s last 29 games (only missed 2012 New Mexico Bowl and at Colorado last month), while junior free safety Jourdon Grandon now has 23 career starts.
Gridiron Graduates: Eight Wildcats have earned their degrees from the University of Arizona, a tally that ranks fifth nationally for FBS programs. Included are running backs Daniel Jenkins and Kylan Butler, receivers Terrence Miller and Richard Morrison, defensive backs Derrick Rainey and Justin Samuels, offensive lineman Eric Bender-Ramsey and defensive lineman Sione Tuihalamaka.
Scholarships Earned: Several walk-ons earned the praise of head coach Rich Rodriguez, who rewarded them with scholarships this offseason. Nose guard Tevin Hood, linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson and receiver Johnny Jackson earned scholarships in the spring, while running back Terris Jones-Grigsby and receiver Trevor Ermisch were put on scholarship in fall camp. Rodriguez values a strong walk-on program and benefitted such a program himself. At West Virginia, Rodriguez started as a walk-on in 1981 and became a three-year letter winner as a defensive back from 1982-84.
The Bear Down Story: Arizona’s new FieldTurf playing surface features the school motto “Bear Down” in ghost lettering behind the prominent block “A” logo at midfield. The rally cry, which predates “Win One For the Gipper” by two years, was coined by John “Button” Salmon – a quarterback, baseball catcher and student body president – all the way back in 1926. In early October that year, after the Wildcat varsity defeated the freshman squad in an annual match at the time, Salmon and several friends were returning from a visit to Phoenix, and an automobile crash north of Tucson near Florence left the young athlete critically injured. Two weeks later, Salmon died from his injuries. The coach at the time, J.F. “Pop” McKale, had visited Salmon in the hospital regularly before his death, and later told the squad the young athlete’s last message to his teammates was, “Tell them... tell the team to bear down.” When word spread, the UA student body drew to the phrase swiftly, and among other uses painted the slogan on the roof of the university gymnasium shortly thereafter, known since as Bear Down Gym. An airplane view of that huge-lettered phrase caused eventual long-time band director Jack K. Lee to write the song, “Bear Down, Arizona” during his application for the UA band job. Now – 87 years since – “Bear Down” remains UA’s most enduring tradition. In addition to the rally cry on the field, a bust of Salmon stands outside the entrance to the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility where Wildcat fans can read his final words. Arizona players also will pass by the statue on the “Wildcat Walk” as they enter the facility before every home game.
Up Next: Arizona concludes its regular season Nov. 30 in the annual Territorial Cup against rival Arizona State. Kickoff has been set for 7:30 p.m. (MST) at Sun Devil Stadium and the game will be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.