Sept. 26, 2011
Arizona Football Weekly Release (PDF)
Date: Oct. 1 Time: 12:30 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Los Angeles (LA Memorial Coliseum -- 93,607)
Television Broadcast: FSN
TV Commentators: Craig Bolerjack (pxp), Joel Klatt (analyst), Petros Papadakis (sideline)
UA Radio: Arizona Radio Network, 1290 AM Tucson
UA Radio Commentators: Brian Jeffries (pxp), Lamont Lovett (color analyst), Dana Cooper (sideline analyst)
Sat. Radio: SIRIUS 139, XM 193
Arizona -USC Series History
All-Time Series: USC leads 27-7
First Meeting: 1916 (USC 20, UA 7 at Phoenix)
Last Meeting: Nov. 13, 2010 (USC 24, Arizona 21 at Tucson)
Streak: Teams have split last two meetings
Mike Stoops'Record vs. USC: 1-6
Lane Kiffin's Record vs. Arizona: 1-0
Some Game Themes
Arizona catches a mini-break and takes on an unranked squad after a horrific three-week drive down Elm Street. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs and Arizona's early schedule emptied the roost with three Top 10 foes... The Cats hope to recreate their last tour of the Coliseum grounds, a 21-17 victory in 2009... Judging the books by their covers it's the back (1-3) vs. the front (3-1)... Two teams smarting from three-touchdown losses last Saturday... A match involving two quarterbacks of renown, Arizona's Nick Foles and USC's Matt Barkley, plus a pair of the weapons at the other end, Juron Crinerand Robert Woods... Arizona works to snap a six-game league losing streak against a team that helped build the slide... A fourth consecutive national television appearance for UA, which hopes its 15 minutes aren't up... Arizona looks inward for some defensive resolve, checking into the Coliseum with the FBS' 112th-rated unit...
Arizona must stop the run. Stanford exposed Arizona last year with 217 rushing yards and the Trojans ran the ball 46 times for 205 yards the next week. Including those two games the last nine UA opponents have run the ball an average of 40 times for 215 yards... Turnovers hurt USC at ASU last week and Arizona could use some loose balls. The Cats have turned it over once in four games and gained two turnovers on interceptions, minimalist miscue play...
Arizona - Mike Stoops(Iowa '86), eighth year at Arizona (41-48) and overall as a head coach. His record in league games is 27-36. Stoops had Arizona in the national rankings for 11 weeks in 2010 and has taken three consecutive teams to bowl games, matching the school's best string. His recruiting and player development programs have put talented players on the field, and solid citizens in the classrooms and community. He has coached national award winners and a combined 33 All-Pac-10 players at Arizona. His Arizona teams have beaten ranked teams each of his seven seasons in Tucson. Arizona's football attendance has flourished in his tenure averaging 53,155 per game, among the Pac-12's best of-capacity (92%) figures. Arizona's football APR mark has improved each of the past six years. He has developed 16 Arizona players selected in the NFL Draft. He was defensive coordinator at Kansas State and Oklahoma from 1996-2003 before his UA appointment and has been on the defensive side since his coaching start in 1986. Stoops is 1-6 USC with the victory coming on Arizona's last visit to the Coliseum, 21-17, in December 2009. Southern California - Lane Kiffin (Fresno State '98), second year at USC (11-6 and third year overall as a head coach (18-12). His background includes two years as an NFL head coach (Oakland 2007-08), six years as a USC offensive assistant (2001-06) and the head job at Tennessee in 2009. He started as a student assistant at Fresno State in 1997.
A capacity crowd of 56,096 showed up for Family Weekend but the fare turned out to be PG-13 as the No. 10 Oregon Ducks ran around, through and over Arizona, 56-31. UO amassed 415 rushing yards, the most against Arizona since UO ran for 389 last year, otherwise go back 68 games to November 2005 when Washington ran for 333. The Ducks' attack was spearheaded by LaMichael James' 288 markers. That total matched the Arizona Stadium record set by Trung Canidate against ASU in 1998 and, pending some additional research, eclipsed a 69-year-old opponents' mark by Doc Mobley (278) of Hardin Simmons in October 1942. James pulled off his feat with a modest 23 carries, averaging 12.5 yards, and crossed the goal line on runs of 12 and 19 yards. The Ducks jumped to a 14-0 lead seven minutes into the game with two long, quick drives and then added three more TDs to lead at the half, 35-9. Arizona fought back with 21 unanswered points and some effective defense to trail by 11 with five minutes left in the third quarter, but the Ducks' running game persisted thereafter. The 56 points were the most against Arizona under Mike Stoops and the most in its last 98 games and eight seasons (dating to a 59-7 loss at Purdue in 2003.) UA quarterback Nick Foles battled against an Oregon pass rush (five sacks) and half a dozen dropped balls by his mates (including two potential TD throws) and threw for 398 yards and three scores. The Cats had a season-high 480 yards in total offense helped by some modest running (82) but were no match for Oregon's 8.8 yards per rush. UA receiver David Douglas had a career-best 120 receiving yards on seven catches while Juron Criner snared nine passes for 96 markers. Foles extended his school-record streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 198, true freshman RB Ka'Deem Carey set school records with nine kickoff returns for 197 yards and cornerback Trevin Wadebroke up three passes to match former star Chris McAlister with 27 career PBUs, No. 9 on the UA chart.
LA For The Weekend
Maybe a little road trip is exactly what the Wildcats need. Arizona, seeking its first Pac-12 victory, heads to Los Angeles where it has won each of its last three visits (2008 and 2010 at UCLA, 2009 at USC). This weekend's matinee match in the Coliseum brings the Wildcats back to the scene where they scratched out a 21-17 victory over the Trojans in the final regular season weekend to secure a berth in the 2009 Holiday Bowl. There are good recent memories and nice following of fans for the Wildcats, who have a roster loaded with Southern California natives along with a prominent alumni base in the area.
Arizona senior receivers David Roberts and David Douglas will join Juron Criner shortly to give Arizona three active receivers on the school's all-time receptions chart. Criner's No. 4 with 155 catches (2190 yards, 23 TD). Roberts is a pair of snares shy of tying Rodney Williams (1995-97) at No. 10. Roberts has 110 receptions for 1,121 yards and five scores. Douglas is close behind with 103 receptions for 1,075 yards and seven TDs). A couple of former guys of note on the list: No. 1 Mike Thomas(259), Bobby Wade (230) and Dennis Northcutt (223), the only three Wildcats ever to eclipse the 200-catch level.
Nick Foles'stats speak for themselves. He's thrown for 1,477 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions with an efficienct 70.5-percent pass completion percentage (129-of-183) in just four games. Amazingly, some of those numbers stack up with some SEASON marks for UA quarterbacks over the years: Foles' 129 pass completions are already more than that of the annual passing leaders individual totals in 38 of the past 53 seasons dating back to 1958 ... Foles' 10 passing touchdowns this season alone are as many as George Malauulu had in his entire career. Granted, Malauulu was a run-first option much of the time, but he still accumulated over 3,000 passing yards from 1989-92 ... Foles is averaging 361.8 yards per game through the year. He is just 337 yards shy of matching Bruce Hill's 1,814 yards for No. 14 on the UA single season passing yardage chart ... Foles' 183 pass attempts are already more than Arizona tired as a team in the 1990, 1989 and 1978 seasons.
Senior cornerback Trevin Wade has made some marked improvement from his junior year and has put together a quality first third of the year in 2011. He's rekindled the ball-hawking ability he showed in his first two seasons. He has one interception and seven PBUs. The latter give him 27 in his career, tied with Chris McAlister (1996-98) and Kelvin Hunter (1996-99), the corners in the same UA backfield more than a decade ago, for No. 9 on the UA all-time chart. Wade's pace could put him in good stead to challenge the 40 mark, passed only by four-year starter Michael Jolivette (2000-03) with 44. UA's NFF Hall of Famer, safety Chuck Cecil (1984-87), is No. 2 with 38 and corner Kelly Malveaux (1994-97) is No. 3 with 35. A pair of more recent players, Antoine Cason (2004-07) and Devin Ross(2006-09) are tied with 32 to round out the top five. Just ahead of Wade is former Denver Bronco Randy Robbins (28 pbu), whose son, Josh, is a redshirt freshman safety for the Cats. Wade ranks tied for third nationally with 11 career interceptions among active players.
Arizona tried seven (7) fourth-down conversions against Oregon and was successful on five of them to help boost the conversion rate to 11-for-26 in the game (6-19 on 3rd down). The Cats have been successful on 14 of 25 fourth downs (56%) in the past two seasons, markedly better than the third-down rate in the same 17 games (45%). Whether that means more of the field is four-down territory or the Cats simply have needed to take more chances is something to ask Mike Stoops. On the season, Pac-12 teams have gone for it on 4th down a total of 83 times and Arizona gets credit for the lion's share at 15% of the tries.
Nick Foles set a new career high with 57 pass attempts against Oregon, which surpassed Marc Reed's 56 pass attempts against Oregon State in 1996 for the second-most in a game at Arizona. That mark came up a few shy of the school record, which is held by Willie Tuitama who had 61 throws against California in 2007 ... Foles' 57 pass attempts went to the hands of a Wildcat or effectively to the ground, meaning he did not throw an interception all night. It's a new school record for most attempts in a game without a pick, and was the third time in his career that he has thrown 50+ interceptions without and interception (Stanford 2009, Stanford 2010, Oregon 2011) ... Freshman Ka'Deem Careyset a new UA individual game record with nine kickoff returns against Oregon. The nine returns surpassed Derek Hill's seven at Washington State in 1987 ... Carey collected 197 total yards on his nine kickoff returns, which was also a new school record in a game. Carey erased the 180 yards collected by Chuck Levy (on seven returns) against Ohio State in 1991.
Little by little, Arizona is making some progress in the run game. Against Oregon, the Wildcats gained 129 yards on the ground, but netted just 82 yards with 46 yards in sacks added in (or actually subtracted). But over the last two games, Arizona's running back tandem of senior Keola Antolin and freshman Ka'Deem Careyhas produced some good gains. The two have combined for 202 yards on 40 carries, which is a nice 5.1 yards per carry mark. That's more than useful, particularly for a team with a prolific passing attack like Arizona's. Now the key becomes trying to establish that run game early and put points on the board to pressure opponents.
Kickoff specialist John Bonanoearned a College Performance Award honorable mention nod of the week for his kicking against Oregon. He kicked four times for a 70-yard average (goal line) with two touchbacks and average starting field position for the Ducks at their 22 yard-line. He's done a nice job this year of consistency with an overall mark right around the 21 yard-line. Arizona's coverage unit has held opponents to a 20.2yard return average thanks in part to Bonano's boots. With Pac-12 returners like Chris Owusu, LaMichael James or Robert Woods back there, it's a key.
It's low. Arizona's four games have witnessed just three turnovers -- two picks by UA backs (Trevin Wade, Mark Watley) and a lost fumble by UA receiver Austin Hill. That keeps UA tied for the national lead in fewest turnovers with Stanford, Northwestern and Kansas. The Wildcats are tied for fifth in Pac-12 turnover margin at the 0.25 per game figure, and they'd sure like to create some more loose balls, but they'd sure like to keep hanging on to the pigskin like they're doing.
Arizona right-handed quarterback Nick Folesplayed his guts out against Oregon, completing a sub-par 59 percent of his passes for 398 yards and three scores. (Six clearly dropped -- not broken up -- balls didn't help, two for free-space TD potential.) But his verve was never more evident than a second-half under-pressure throw with his LEFT hand to keep a drive alive. He was knocked around and sacked five times but never let it affect his poise.
Simply put, Arizona needs to improve defensively. Surrendering 484 yards and 35 points per game isn't going to win many games for any team. But the Wildcats have faced an unprecedented gauntlet of Top 10 teams and have done so with a young and inexperienced defensive group that faced much adversity in the offseason. The process started at the end of the 2010 season when three future NFL draft picks (Brooks Reed, Ricky Elmore and D'Aundre Reed) left a void on the defensive line, notably at end. Then in spring practice, starting safety Adam Hall and starting linebacker Jake Fischer tore ACL's. A third defensive contributor - Willie Mobley- tore an ACL in a non-football activity in May. Fast forward to the fall and starting corner Johnathan McKnight also tore an ACL prior to the season opener. That's some serious personnel losses for any team, particularly one that was set to face arguably the nation's top wide receiver (OSU's Justin Blackmon), the nation's top quarterback (Stanford's Andrew Luck) and the nation's top running back (Oregon's LaMichael James) in consecutive weeks. Not that USC or any of the upcoming teams are slouches, but Arizona's defensive starters now have some experience against the best offensive clubs in the nation. If they can take the learning in stride, it should benefit them over the final two-thirds of the regular season.
If Arizona and USC share anything in common, it's the unique similarities in red zone struggles as both clubs rank near the bottom nationally in red zone offense and defense. The Wildcats (20-22) and Trojans (10-11) each have allowed opponents to score on 91-percent of red zone drives, which ties for No. 96 nationally. Each has also surrendered 73-percent success rate for touchdowns in the red zones (UA opponents 16-22, USC opponents 8-11). Offensively, Arizona converts just 73-percent of its red zone drives (11-15) into points, a figure that checks in No. 91 in the nation. Meanwhile, USC has a 71-percent success rate (12-17) in the red zone. The Wildcats have scored touchdowns on 9-of-15 trips (60-percent) and the Trojans on 9-of-17 (53-percent).
Red Zone Part II
Over the last couple of seasons, the Wildcats have struggled to produce points in the red zone. A year ago Arizona scored on 72-percent of red zone drives, converting touchdowns on just 55.6-percent of trips. Of Arizona's 30 red zone touchdowns a year ago, 15 were via rushing and 15 more by passing. However, rushing the football proved difficult at times as the Wildcats averaged just 1.9 yards per carry. Compare that clip to the 3.4 yards per carry in the red zone in 2008, when Arizona was among the nation's best at scoring 92-percent of the time in the red zone. That year, the Wildcats scored 31 rushing touchdowns inside the red zone. So far in 2011, UA has three rushing touchdowns (and six passing on 15 total drives). The team's yards per carry mark is just 1.3 inside the 20.
You might. Arizona (109th) and USC (107th) are near the bottom of the FBS with 8.25 and 7.75 penalties per game, respectively. The Trojans have a slim "lead" with 72 penalty yards per game to 64 by UA. Combined the two squads have been penalized for 543 yards, a nice single-game offensive outing by one of the league's top units. Arizona has drifted away from some earlier false-start goods to illegal shifts and personal fouls. The Cats had a season-high 11 penalties at Oklahoma State and a season-high 91 yards on 9 (all in the first half) flags against Oregon. In that game UA was called for, in order: personal foul, false start, illegal block, illegal procedure, roughing the passer, illegal shift, personal foul, holding and a personal foul. During his tenure at UA, Mike Stoops'teams have not lacked discipline, with a season low 53 penalties in 2008 and only one squad (2010) with more penalties than opponents. This year the squad has 33 flags in four games. That pace could make UA push 100 and that's been done once by UA in the Pac-10 years, in 1999 (114 for 925 yards).
A third of the way through the regular season, Arizona has given up nearly half the points (140) it gave up in 13 games last year (295), one reason it checks into the USC game at 1-3 and rated 106th in the FBS in scoring defense (35 ppg)... The three prolific offenses UA faced in Oklahoma State, Stanford and Oregon put the Cats on a pace to break the total yards allowed mark of 5,520 yards (2003), although one presumes that's unlikely... On the offensive side UA has 37 percent (1,490 yards) through four games of the school-record 4,000 passing yards it posted in 2010...
Century City The last time Arizona won a game outside Tucson was the last time its primary running back (Keola Antolin) ran for 100 yards or more, at UCLA a year ago. Whether it goes hand-in-hand is up to the experts, but Arizona is 1-8 since. As a team the Cats rushed for more than 100 yards in two of those games in the span (Stanford and ASU in '10). In the eight preceeding games capped by that UCLA contest (during which UA was 7-1), it rushed for an average of 153 yards per game.
Pounding the Ball
415 rushing yards by Oregon last week came up short of the most allowed by UA in a Pac-10 (12) game, 450 by ASU in 1996 and the overall most, 569 by ASU in 1951. The Ducks' 8.8 yards per rush was shy of the record allowed, 9.02 per tote at UCLA (56-505) in 1972. No matter. For anyone who watched Desert Swarm hold all of the 1993 opponents to a total of 331 rushing yards in a full season, or watched Mike Stoops-coached defenses dominate the landscape in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the numbers were staggering. The Swarm was built of guys who got pounded as youngsters and then progressed, and Arizona's interior top five linemen are still learning the trade -- sophomores Justin Washington and Sione Tuiahalamak, and redshirt freshmen Aiulua Fanene, Saneilia Fuimaono and Kirifi Taula.
On the goals for Arizona's defensive improvement will be to limit long plays by opponents. Through four weeks, the Wildcats have yielded 26 total offensive plays (12 rushing, 14 passing) of 20 or more yards. A year ago, during a 4-0 start to the season, UA's defense surrendered just seven total 20-plus yard plays to opposing offenses to open the season. Sure, the competition has been much stiffer to start the 2011 campaign, but needless to say the Cats needs to find a solution to slowing down opposing teams. Forcing teams to matriculate the ball down the field without the chunk plays will be a good place to start.
Chunk Plays Part II
Nick Foles and the passing attack have totaled 19 plays of 20 or more yards through the air in the first four games of the season. That's well on the way to eclipsing the total of 46 long pass plays a year ago. But the Wildcats would also like to find some balance with the run. So far only two rushing plays have gained 20 or more yards - both totes by Keola Antolin. In 2010, UA had 14 rushing plays of 20 or more yards, which leaves the Cats with some work to do if they would like to match that total.
From Start To Finish
Under Mike Stoops, Arizona has proved to be a pretty dominant team when it starts fast. Consider that the Wildcats are 27-6 (8.18) since the start of the 2004 season when holding a lead after the first quarter. That mark is even more impressive in recent seasons, as UA has won 18 of its last 19 contests since the start of 2008 when leading after the opening period (lone defeat came after a 14-7 lead at Oregon in 2010). At home, the Wildcats are 18-3 in such games, including a streak of 13 straight victories dating back to 2007. Away from home, the Cats hold a solid 9-3 (.750) mark with leads after the first quarter. However, trailing or being tied with an opponent is an ominous omen for Arizona as the club is just 14-42 (.250) when tied or trailing after the first quarter since the start of 2004. The Cats are 8-20 (.286) at home and 6-22 (.214) away from home in such games.
If the Wildcats wanted to, they could spread out SIX receivers who have a 100-yard game on their résumé. Juron Criner is the headliner of the group and has seven 100-yard receiving games in his career. Last week at against Oregon, senior David Douglas tallied 120 yards on seven grabs for his first career 100-yard game. Earlier this year against Oklahoma State, redshirt freshman and transfer Dan Buckner (who had to sit out the 2010 season) racked up 279 combined yards as each collected their first 100-yard receiving day for the Wildcats. They joined David Roberts (138 yards at Washington in 2009) and Terrence Miller(116 yards against USC in 2010) as targets that have 100-yard games in their careers.
Ground Game Grounded
So far Arizona has rushed for 249 yards on the season and its 62.2 yards per game average ranks No. 119 in the nation (out of 120 teams). It's clear the Wildcats are going to have to find a way to run the ball, even in the pass-happy offensive attack. When Arizona has been able to run the ball in recent seasons, it has been able to win quite a few ball games. The Cats are 19-8 since the start of 2008 when rushing for 100 or more yards in a game, while they struggle at a 5-11 mark in games when failing to reach the century mark.
Tracking Some Cats
Nick Foles' and Juron Criner's career numbers are well-documented, but here are some notable Cats closing in on other top career marks ... Keola Antolin has 23 rushing touchdowns and three receiving scores in his career for a career tally of 156 points scored. That is nearing a spot in the UA career charts. He is one touchdown shy of matching Dennis Northcutt's (1996-99) 162 points for No. 13 all-time ... Senior place kicker Alex Zendejas has collected 178 points in his career, which stands as 11th-most in program history. Four more points will match Zendejas with another UA kicker, Sean Keel (1999-2002) ... Senior wide receiver David Roberts' steady career has put him within reach of becoming one of the school's all-time leaders for pass receptions. His 110 grabs are just two catches shy of Derek Hill (1985-88) and Rodney Williams (1995-97) who are tied for No. 10 on the UA list ... Antolin became the 13th player in school history to rush for 2,000 yards in his career when he surpassed the benchmark against Oregon. He is now 12 yards shy of catching Eddie Wolgast (1945-50) for 12th-most ... David Douglas'120 yards against Oregon pushed him over the 1,000-yard barrier for his career. With 103 receptions, Douglas is one shy of equaling Vance Johnson (1981-84) for No. 14 on the UA career charts.
- Keola Antolin's 415 career carries are 17th-most for active players
- Juron Criner's 155 career receptions are 16th-most for active players.
- Juron Criner's 2,198 career receiving yards are 16th-most for active players.
- Juron Criner's 23 career receiving touchdowns are 6th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 675 career pass completions are 7th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 7,124 passing yards are 9th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 49 passing touchdowns are tied for 13th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 66.1% career completion percentage is 6th-best for active players
- Nick Foles' 263.9 career passing yards per game is 8th-best for active players
- Nick Foles' 25.0 career completions per game is 5th-best for active players
- Trevin Wade's11 career interceptions are tied for third nationally for active players.
Cats Report To Duty
For the fourth straight year, Arizona head coach Mike Stoopstook his team to Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army post 75 miles southeast of Tucson, for four days of preseason training camp in August. Fort Huachuca was founded in 1977 and is now home to units such as the Army Intelligence Center, Army Signal Command, Information Systems Command and other test facilities associated with communications and electronic proving systems. For Arizona football, the mission is threefold, but simple: learn from the best team (U.S. Army) in the world, enjoy a cooler climate for football training, and bond as a team in preparation for the long grind of a college football season. It affords quality football practice fields for the team's physical work and barracks for housing, but moreover offers exceptional leadership-skills training opportunities and daily interaction with U.S. Army soldiers on post. The formula has worked the last three years, each of which has ended with a bowl appearance. The Wildcats are seeking for a school-record fourth bowl trip this year.
Building For The Future
In the summer of 2011, Arizona Athletics completed work on a new video board for the south end zone at Arizona Stadium and has begun plans for the North End Zone Complex. The new video board measures 113' wide by 47' high -- 6.5 times larger than the existing board and will be one of the largest in all of college sports. The North End Zone Complex will include 5,000 upgraded end-zone seats, and among them 420 premium loge-level seats. Arizona football staff offices will move from McKale Center to a four-level, 185,000-square-foot operations center that includes football-specific strength and conditioning facilities, a sports-medicine suite for student-athlete care and treatment, a team dining hall, coaches' offices, team locker rooms, small group and auditorium meeting spaces, and equipment and laundry rooms.
Arizona will remain on the road to play at Oregon State on Saturday, Oct. 8. Kick off time and possible television time has yet to be determined. The Wildcats then enter their first open week of the year (Oct. 15) before hosting a Thursday night game on ESPN against UCLA on October 20.