Nov. 29, 2010
Complete Game Notes (PDF)
Arizona State (5-6, 3-5 Pac-10) at Arizona (7-4, 4-4 Pac-10)
Live TV Broadcast: ESPN (national)
Television Talent: Rece Davis (play-by-play); Craig James (analyst); Jesse Palmer (Analyst); Jenn Brown (sideline)
UA English Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries, play-by-play; Lamont Lovette, color; Dana Cooper, sideline)
UA Spanish Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Francisco Romero, play-by-play; Marco Rincon, analyst)
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 122, XM 143
National Radio: Touchdown Radio Network (Roxy Bernstein pxp;Petros Papadakis, analyst)
Online Coverage: Gametracker | Live Audio
All-Time Series: Arizona leads, 46-36-1
First Meeting: 1899 (ASU 11, Arizona 2 at Tempe)
Last Meeting: Nov. 28, 2009 (UA 20, ASU 17 at Tucson)
Some Game Themes
The battle for the Territorial Cup, recognized by the NCAA as the nation's oldest trophy game... Arizona tries to hang on to that hardware, Arizona State tries to wrest it back after a two-year residency in Tucson... The Cats need a win to halt a three-game losing streak and keep hopes of improving on successive 8-5 campaigns, while the Sun Devils work to even their record with a steady finish late in the season... The game has some obvious bowl implications with Arizona jockeying for selections and ASU looking to knock the Cats down the pecking order, a role reversal of sorts from just a few seasons ago... Arizona could finish above .500 in league play for the third consecutive year while the Devils could match the Cats at 4-5. The winner finishes third (or tied) in the final year of Pac-10 play... Arizona works to match an offensive spree through its losing streak with some commensurate stopping power on the other side of the ball... The fourth December Cup tilt in the last four years and likely the last, with Pac-12 Championship games taking this weekend in the future... Records and tendencies aside, the game always carries emotion on both sides, as befits a traditional rivalry contest... But, if tendencies are a yard stick, this one matches two of top 12 passing games in the FBS... If turnovers are a key, it won't be the first time --. UA is 50th in turnover margin and ASU is 106th... Arizona checks its discipline against a Sun Devils' attack that's been scary on kickoff returns, with three returned for scores by three different players and a 28-yard average (2nd nationally)... The teams' last December game for some time, with Pac-12 play starting next year and both squads in the Pac-12 South...
Arizona played No. 1 Oregon straight up in the first half, then suffered as had many a team as the Ducks put together a typical string of big plays to explode for 34 points in 18 second-half minutes to dispel the notion that the Wildcats could be in the BCS-busting business. The Cats put the first points on the board and had three other leads including a 19-14 edge at the hafltime break, but when Oregon began to click it did so with emphasis. The Cats'' Nick Foles threw for a career high 448 yards along with three scores, but the Ducks raced for 389 rushing yards to counter with authority. A couple of mistakes hurt -- a Foles' interception in the red zone, a fumbled kick return that gave Oregon the ball inside UA's 10-yard line -- but a couple of Ducks' turnovers fueled two of Arizona's first three scores, too. The Oregon rushing yards were the most against Arizona since 2005. There were big plays on both sides, with Foles hitting a career-best 85-yard TD throw to Juron Criner to give UA a 14-7 lead, and Josh Huff racing 85 yards to open the third quarter and regain the lead for UO at 20-19. The Cats scored in every quarter but the Ducks 20 points in the third period gave them a 34-22 edge entering the final period. LaMichael James scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the final period to punctuate Oregon's running game, which saw him (28-126) and Huff (3-106) both eclipse the century barrier. Oregon averaged 6.8 yards per rush -- 57 of them. Meantime, UA could not get its running game untracked, with 27 attempts for 58 net yards. Foles threw 54 times, completing 29 for hjis 448 yards, finding Terrence Miller eight times for 96 yards and Criner three times for 109 yards and two scores, among other targets. The loss was Arizona's third consecutive and the victory earned Oregon the Pac-10 title and no worse than a Rose Bowl appearance but alive for the BCS title game at 11-0. Sophomore safety Adam Hall led UA with 11 tackles and helped set up UA's first score with an interception and 22-yard return. UA kept pace in the yardage department with 5-6 to UA's 539, but Oregon's touchdowns on five straight possessions to open the second half spelled doom for the Cats.
The Territorial Cup
The Territorial Championship Cup was first presented to Tempe Normal School after its 11-2 victory over Arizona at Tucson's Carrillo Gardens Field downtown on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 30, 1899. That makes it the oldest rivalry game trophy in America -- compared to, say, the Little Brown Jug (Michigan-Minnesota 1909) or the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana-Purdue 1925). Carrillo Gardnes was in a downtown park on a site south of the current Tucson Community Center in the Barrio Historico district, near South Main Avenue and West Simpson Street. The Cup has been registered with the NCAA and thereby sanctions the game as the oldest trophy game. Early origins of the piece are unclear, but the cup itself is silver-plated over Britannia base metal and was manufactured by Reed and Barton of Taunton, Mass., according to some reports, which also indicate it catalog price at $20. The lone inscription reads "Arizona Foot Ball League 1899 Normal." The Cup's whereabouts for the next eight decades also remains unclear until its discovery among items found in the basement of a church near ASU in the early 1980s, and then displayed in various ASU collections. In 2001, then ASU President Lattie Coor led the move to have it presented to the game winner. Over the years, the Governor's Trophy (1953-1979) and a 'Victory" sculpture by artist Benn Goo (1979-1997) were presented to the game's winner. The Saguaro Trophy, a bronze piece commissioned from artist Dora Perry in 1998 also has been in the mix, and now goes to the winning coach each year. The Most Outstanding Player in the game, named after the late sportswriter Bob Moran in 2008, earns the Ben Goo sculpture for his school's hall of fame. The Cup on the sideline at the game itself is a replica; glove-treatment transfer by curators -- if necessary -- goes for the original piece, which also is a hall of champions display artifact. The games themselves are not atypical of a state where the Territorial legislature awarded one city (Phoenix) the initial economic price, the state hospital, while the other town (Tucson) got the first state university. The games are competitive, territorial and a huge matter of pride. This year, the schools are participating in the State Farm Territorial Cup challenge, which includes competition from 18 sports, for the second consecutive year.
Arizona - Mike Stoops (Iowa '86), seventh year (40-43) at UA and overall as a head coach. Stoops returned Arizona from a 2-10 program the year before his arrival to the national rankings in his tenure, and has taken the Wildcats to successive bowl games to close the decade. He's working on a 23-14 mark from 2008 onward. His Arizona clubs have beaten a ranked team each of his years including this year's victory over No. 9 Iowa. His recruiting and player development programs have put talent back on the field and sent more than a dozen players to the professional ranks via the draft or free agency in the past four years. He has coached national award winners and a combined 28 All-Pacific-10 players. Arizona football attendance has been a positive feature of a home-field advantage under Coach Stoops, with crowds averaging 93 percent of capacity each of his six seasons at Arizona Stadium and three sellouts this year. Arizona's football team APR checked in with an improved mark each of the five seasons since his inaugural year. Stoops is 3-3 against ASU including the last two meetings and his opening-year victory over the then-No. 18 Sun Devils in 2004. Arizona State - Dennis Erickson (Montana State '70), fifth year at ASU (24-24) and 23rd year overall (172-89-1). Erickson has been Pac-10 Coach of the Year at ASU, Oregon State and WSU, and won two national championships at Miami. He is 8-4 lifetime against Arizona, with a 2-2 mark while at ASU. The first of his seven head coaching stints began at Idaho,in 1981.
Arizona is 112th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in red zone success, netting scores on 73% of its trips. it faces an ASU squad that, flip side, is 4th nationally in red zone defense, allowing only 23 scores on 48 trips (64%). Either the Cats have to score from farther out (they have, with 13 long-range offensive TDs), or tighten up and make it work once they get into scoring position.
Staring at the Numbers...
...Junior David Douglas has done a good job of working as an outside receiver this year after a juco wide-guy never enrolled. He has 42 catches and four TDs after totals of 34 and two his first two seasons in the slot. Those 76 catches put him in good shape to find a spot on Arizona's career receiving chart where the top 15 starts around the 100 mark. Aside from being a good receiver, he's Nick Foles' roommate and thereby closer to the thought processes in the UA passing game... Arizona's 78 penalties are the most during Mike Stoops' seven years in Tucson but thankfully well short of the school record of 114 by the 1999 Wildcats. Stoops' first six teams averaged 66 penalties per year and 5.5 per game. The team is averaging 7.1 per game this year... Another annual average for a Stoops' club is 12.6 interceptions by his defenders, which means this year's teams is slightly behind pace with nine... The Cats are listed 45th in the FBS in red zone defense, allowing scores at an 80 percent rate when teams reach the 20-yard line. UA, however, is 12th in lowest number of such drives at 30. (The national leader in that non-category is TCU, with only 16 penetrations by opponents into the red zone.)...UA's 27 sacks are the second-most for a Mike Stoops' UA club (34 last year), but UA hasn't had one in its last three games against Stanford, USC and Oregon, all losses. A sack or two would have helped in those games, no doubt. Stanford is the best pass-pro team in the country, and USC and Oregon opted to run the ball a combined 103 times against 59 combined passes.... The 57 running plays (389 yards) by the Ducks last week were the second-most in Stoops' tenure, behind 61 totes (for 310) by Oregon State in Mike's first year in 2004. USC and Washington ran the ball 52 times against Arizona in 2005. Washington had the highwater mark in yards gained rushing (333 in 2005) before the Ducks' onslaught... Linebacker Paul Vassallo has a chance to hit the 100-tackle mark this year, sitting on 86 and averaging 7.8 per game with a pair of games left. The last Wildcat to hit the plateau was current Denver Bronco linebacker/fullback Spencer Larsen with 131 in 12 games in 2007...
Assuming one schedules Middle Northern State instead, the Pac-10's final year typifies why some coaches felt a nine-game league schedule (as has been established for the Pac-12) was one league game too much. The Territorial Cup tilt in Tucson, the Civil War in Corvallis and the Apple Cup in Pullman will further determine 2010 bowl participation by Pac-10 squads. There could be as few as three, or possibly five (or six, pending appeal) bowl-eligible teams emerging from the league for its six affiliated bowls. For sure, USC, Cal, UCLA and WSU are staying home. Cal ends a seven-year run, USC had its nine-year run clipped by the NCAA and UCLA was coming off an appearance in 2009.
Foles Flinging Facts
Quarterback Nick Foles' 54 pass attempts at Oregon were the third-most in a game in Arizona history, behind 61 by Willie Tuitama at California in 2007 and 56 by Marc Reed against Oregon State in 1966. Foles threw 53 times at Washington in 2009. One rub in Eugene was his completion percentage of .537 (29 complete), well below his average of 71 percent entering the game, which dropped to 68 percent afterward... Foles connected with Juron Criner for an 85-yard touchdown pass at Oregon, tied for the seventh-longest in school history, the career-long for both players and the longest pass play for the Wildcats in eight years... Foles is within reach of 3,000 passing yards this year (currently 2,649), accomplished just three times in Arizona's football history, twice by Willie Tuitama (3,683 in 2007 and 3,088 in 2008) and once by Jason Johnson (3,327 in 2002)...His 16 TD tosses this year are No. 9 on the UA chart, where his 19 in 2009 were No. 4.
T-Mill Steps Up
Sophomore inside receiver Terrence Miller has 15 receptions for 212 yards in the past two games against USC and Oregon including a career-best 8 snags last week and a career-best 116 yards against USC (7 grabs). The week before that he signaled some spark with three catches at Stanford. For a guy with 24 career receptions in 18 games played, you might say he's emerged in the past several weeks. He lettered as a true freshman a year ago and now appears to be headed toward some meaningful contribution to the Arizona passing attack.
JC for the TD
Junior receiver Juron Criner has 18 career touchdown receptions, sixth most in school history, largely in two years as a key guy in the rotation. His nine TDs a year ago tied for No. 4 on the UA chart and he has two games left to improve on that one. He will have a shot at the school record of 30 TD receptions, by Theopolis "T" Bell from 1972-75 in Jim Young's tenure as UA's head coach under a wide-open attack directed by then QB Bruce Hill. Juron also has a shot at the season mark of 11 TD catches, a tie between Bell (1974) and Mike Thomas (2007).
Arizona has eight players with 20 or more receptions, to match its biggest group of "20" guys in history -- the group in 2007. Last year the Cats had six players with 20 or more. This year's group is led by Juron Criner with 67, while the 2007 group was led by Mike Thomas with 83.
Moving the Ball
Arizona's 450 offensive yards per game would stack up as No. 2 in school history if it held up. The best was the 1999 team led by quarterback Keith Smith and Ortege Jenkins, running back Trung Canidate and receivers Dennis Northcutt and Bobby Wade, at 471.9 yards per game. For a guy with a reputation built on defense, Mike Stoops' Arizona offenses will have four marks in UA's top 12 per-game figures after this year if things keep going in the final two contests of 2010. The Cats can move the ball.
Throwing the Rock
Arizona's team average of 314 yards passing per game would be a season record if it holds up in the final two games, eclipsing the 308.5 ypg mark under Willie Tuitama in 2007. Foles' individual mark of 294 yards per game would be second to Willie's 306.9 per-game average that year. Considering Foles had to recover from a knee injury that caused him to miss the UW and UCLA games, it's a remarkable year for the junior from Austin, Texas. He has two 400-yard games and three others above 300 yards this year. In the game he was hurt, at WSU, his average took a hit with a 71-yard outing in first-quarter action only. If you subtract that short appearance his average is 322 yards per game -- which would rate third in the FBS. As it is, he's No. 8among FBS passers in yards per game (294.3).
Numb in November
Arizona played to a 7-1 record through September and October, and then endured its first winless November since 2000 (when Dick Tomey's final Arizona club also started strong -- 5-1 -- and then lost its last five ballgames including an 0-3 slate in November. Mike Stoops' Arizona clubs have typically been strong in the late season throughout his first six years in Tucson. The seventh pitted the Cats against some strong clubs this year -- Stanford, USC and Oregon -- and it showed on the scoreboards.
Zendejas In the Books
Arizona junior place kicker Alex Zendejas - the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week a season ago after booting a game-winning field goal against ASU - has scored 74 points this season (12-15 FGs, 38-41 PATs). That tally has boosted his career total to 168 points, which stands at No. 11 in UA history. The current No. 10 guy - New York Jets placekicker Nick Folk - is just one point ahead of Zendejas on the chart. Zendejas is 29-for-37 (.784) on field goal attempts the last two seasons, Interestingly, that percentage trails UA career percentage leader Jason Bondzio (.833), but leads Zendejas' uncle Max Zendejas, who connected on .738 percent of tries in his career (1982-84).
Don't get confused between No. 85 David Douglas and No. 81 David Douglas. While both are receivers, the former played "inside wide receiver" his first two seasons before sliding to "outside receiver" this season, although you'll see him in the slot at times, too. Roberts, meanwhile, is a steady inside receiver who is able to find holes in defensive coverage. Neither player has electrifying speed or a big frame, but both are reliable guys who move the chains and come up with big catches at key times. Douglas is second on the team with 42 receptions for 398 yards and four touchdowns, while Roberts has 38 catches for 429 yards and two touchdowns. Added up, that is 80 catches for 827 yards and six touchdowns. Good numbers for sure.
Out of the Backfield
While Arizona's trio of running backs (Nic Grigsby, Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko) average just 23.5 carriers per game, they factor into the passing game quite often. They have combined for 52 catches for 389 yards, which averages out to 7.5 yards per catch and 35 extra markers per game for the tailbacks. That's a nice extension of the running game even it doesn't show up that way statistically.
Arizona has scored points rather evenly throughout the course of games en route to outscoring opponents by nearly 100 points on the season (328-229). The Wildcats have scored 73 points in the opening quarter of games, 105 in the second and 75 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. Meanwhile, opponents have not combined to score more than 67 points in any quarter, with that totally coming in the third period. Otherwise, opponents have scored 52 in the opening quarter, 57 in the second and 3 in the fourth.
Plenty of Patrons
Arizona has enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in program history in terms of fan support. Through six games, the Wildcats have averaged 55,267 fans per game at Arizona Stadium, which holds 57,400. This year's mark stands at No. 3 in school history, behind the record season attendance average of 56,562 in 1994 and the 55,798 in 2006. The current average includes advanced sellouts against Iowa and Washington, with another possible this week against in-state rival Arizona State. At the start of the week, around 1,000 tickets remained for the annual Big Game between the rivals.
Three in a Row
Arizona has secured a bowl appearance for the third-consecutive season for just the second time in program history. The last time the Cats tripped to the postseason in three straight years was from 1992-1994. The '92 squad started the streak with an appearance in the John Hancock Bowl, which was followed up by the 1993 club's Fiesta Bowl season and the 1994 team's Freedom Bowl berth. Meanwhile, this year's Wildcats also have their eyes fixed on taking down rival Arizona State for a third-consecutive season. The last time that happened was also with the 1992-94 group. If the Cats take down ASU this week, it would return the favor that the Sun Devils handed to the Wildcats from 2005-07, as ASU downed Arizona three straight times.
Hall Emerging Quickly
Sophomore safety Adam Hall has emerged as a key playmaker on defense this season after playing mostly special teams as a true freshman in 2009. Hall has an interception in each of the last two games against USC and Oregon. He has moved up to No. 4 on the team with 47 total tackles on the season, which includes 3.0 for loss. Hall is a big hitter who has good range in pass coverage. Consistency will continue to be a primary goal for Hall, like any young player. But the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder is emerging as perhaps the top playmaker in the secondary.
Plugging the Middle
Two unheralded players in UA's defense are tackles Lolomana Mikaele and Justin Washington. Mikaele is a fifth-year senior co-captain, while Washington is a rookie as a redshirt freshman. Mikaele has 29 tackles on the season, paced by 6.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. Washington, who missed two games with a knee injury, has 40 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and 4.0 sacks. Combined, that's 69 tackles and 17.0 tackles for loss for the two primary inside guys.
Rushing To Success
With the skill personnel Arizona has on offense, it's not going to be a run-it-down-your-throat kind of team every down. It would be crazy to waste the talent at QB and WR. But Arizona seems to find its success when it is able to run the ball - or at least tries to run the ball. In UA's seven wins, the Wildcats average 160.1 yards on the ground compared to 94.0 in losses. Interestingly, the yards per carry aren't far off. In wins, the Cats rush for 4.3 yards per tote compared to an even 4.0 clip in losses. The difference could very well be in the balance of play calling. In wins, the Wildcats have run the ball 259 total times compared to 240 pass attempts. In losses, the balance shifts dramatically in favor of the pass with 196 throwing attempts compared to 95 rush attempts. Certainly some of that has to do with playing fourth-quarter catch-up, but it also means that in a close game the Wildcats should stick to running the ball on occasion so not to fall behind in the time of possession battle. In UA's four losses, opponents have held the ball for an average of 35:22, while the Cats possessed the ball for just 24:38. That's more than 10 minutes per game without the ball.
Rushing to Success II
The spread offense has taken over college football in recent seasons and the Wildcats jumped on the bandwagon with Sonny Dykes and his staff in 2007. With it came a record-setting passing season for Arizona in 2007 and back-to-back eight-win seasons in 2008 and 2009. But the Wildcats have found their success most consistent in running the football, not tossing it around for 300-plus yards per game. Not coincidentally, a more consistent ground game the last few seasons has helped the Wildcats win more games. Consider this rush of facts:
Arizona is 8-10 in games when it passes for 300+ yards since the start of 2006
Arizona is 6-2 in games when its opponent throws for 300+ yards in a game since '06
Arizona is 26-8 in games when it rushes for 100+ yards in a game since `06
Arizona is just 13-22 in games when its opponent rushes for 100+ yards in a game since `06
Only five teams have beat UA when rushing for less than 100 yards since the start of `06
UA is 15-1 in the last 16 games when holding an opponent under 100 net rushing yards
Big Play Juron
Wide receiver Juron Criner turned in a breakout season as a sophomore a year ago when he emerged as UA's big-play threat on the outside. His 2010 debut, which included a 10-catch, 176-yard performance, showed he has taken further steps to becoming on of the nation's most outstanding receivers. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder is on the Biletnikoff preseason watch list and should be on that list as it narrows down throughout the season. Here are some quick hits on Juron Criner:
No. 8 in UA history with 18 career receiving touchdowns
119 career receptions are No. 7 in UA history
No. 10 at UA with 1,761 career receiving yards
No. 8 in nation with 99.2 receiving yards per game in 2010
Career-highs of 67 catches for 1,091 yards in 2010
Game-winning TD catch vs. California with 1:11 remaining followed 51-yard reception.
Led Pac-10 receivers with nine (9) receiving touchdowns in 2009
11 of 18 (61.1 percent) career TD grabs have been 20+ yard plays
77 of 119 (65 percent) of career catches result in first down or TD
16.3 yards per catch on 67 receptions in 2010
Five 100-yard games in 2010 (Six in career)
10-catch, 176-yard performance at Toledo 2010
12-catch, 152-yard effort against Stanford in 2009
12-catch, 179-yard (career hight) effort against Oregon State in 2010
Career-high three (3) touchdowns vs. Oregon in 2009
Foles Making a Name for Himself
Arizona junior quarterback Nick Foles continues to show why he is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. An honorable mention all-league pick as a first-year starter in 2009. This summer, he was one of four QBs (Jake Locker, Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley) selected by the Pac-10 office to represent the league in East Coast media days in New York and at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. Voted by teammates as a team captain, Foles kicked off his junior campaign in style with a record setting performance at Toledo and set what could set up to be a special junior campaign. Here are some quick hits on Nick Foles:
Preseason watch list for Davey O'Brien and Manning awards
Currently ranks No. 8 in nation for active career completion percentage (65.7%)
Currently ranks No. 3 in nation for active career completions per game (23.4)
Has thrown for 5,135 yards (No. 8 in UA history) in 22 career games (20 starts)
No. 7 in UA history with 35 career passing TDs
His 19 passing TDs in 2009 tied for fourth-most in a season at UA
63.41% completion percentage in 2009 No. 3 in UA history
Career-high 448 yards passing at Oregon in 2010
Holds UA record for single game pass completion % for 30+ attempts (86.49% at Toledo, 2010)
Where Grigsby Stacks Up
Senior tailback Nic Grigsby has moved up to No. 2 on the UA career rushing touchdown chart (28) and No. 6 in school history with 2,891career rushing yards. That total puts him No. 14 on the list of active players in the NCAA for career rushing yards. Grigsby needs 109 yards to become the school's sixth player to reach 3,000 career rushing yards. Against Oregon State this year, he became the eighth player in school history with 500 carries in a career. Here are some more quick hits on Nic Grigsby:
Currently stands as UA No. 6 rusher in school history with 2,891 yards
His 28 career rushing TDs is No. 2 in school history.
His 552 career rush attempts are sixth-most by a UA player
His 107 rushing yards against The Citadel marked his 11th career 100-yard game
Arizona is 10-1 in games he rushes for 100 yards or more.
Tied career high with three rushing touchdowns against The Citadel
Average of 5.3 yards per carry in career, including 5.7 ypc since start of 2008.
Had 1,153 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2008
The Matt Scott Factor
Junior backup QB Matt Scott has not played since leading the Wildcats to a victory at UCLA in October, when he hurt his wrist. He missed the Stanford and USC games with the injury and did not play at Oregon. In place of then-injured Nick Foles against Washington and UCLA, Scott proved that he brings a special element to the Arizona offense. In two starts against Washington and UCLA, Scott combined to complete 45-of-58 pass attempts (72.4 percent) with three touchdowns and one interception. That checks out to an impressive 165.98 pass efficiency rating. Not to mention, he added 136 rushing yards on 19 total carries. Arizona averaged 525 yards and 36.5 yards per game in those two starts. Even in a limited role, he may be called upon to make a few situational plays for the Cats from here on out.
Elmore Getting More
Senior defensive end Ricky Elmore is following up a sensational junior season in grand style. Through 10 games, Elmore leads the Pac-10 with 8.0 sacks on the season. Elmore's 0.73 sacks per game tally is currently No. 21 in the nation. The 6-foot-5 senior led the Pac-10 in sacks during the regular season a year ago with 11.5, and he's on pace to do so again. In 2010, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder has 340 total tackles, including 10.0 for loss. He has 22.5 career sacks, which are eight-most for active players in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. He ranks tied for No. 5 in UA history for sacks. Should he average one sack per game over the final three games, he would move past David Wood (25 sacks) into No. 2 on UA's all-time sacks list. Of course, Tedy Bruschi is the school record holder with 52, more than double anyone else on the list.
Reed Racking Up the Sacks
Senior defensive end Brooks Reed has returned to his dominating form showcased in his breakout 2008 season. Plagued by a high ankle sprain that forced him to miss several games in 2009, Reed has enjoyed a healthy 2010 season to date. He has 5.5 sacks through nine games, a mark that is second on the team and No. 3 in the Pac-10. Overall, the team co-captain has 39 tackles, including 8.0 for loss, on the season.
Don't Forget D'Aundre
One player who has gone under the radar throughout his career is senior defensive end D'Aundre Reed. Often overshadowed by Brooks Reed (no relation) and Ricky Elmore, D'Aundre has been steady as a third guy in the rotation at end. While he often doesn't appear as the starter, he rotates equally with Brooks and Elmore. D'Aundre may be the best of the trio against the run, but he also brings some explosion off the edge. He has 32 total tackles on the season, including 5.0 for loss and 2.0 sacks. He earned a start last week at Oregon, due in part to his ability to make plays near the line in the run game
Vassallo Making a Name for Himself
Junior linebacker Paul Vassallo has quietly become one of the leaders on the UA defense. Vassallo has settled comfortably into his role has a 10-game starter after joining the program as a junior college transfer last December. He has a team-high 86 tackles (30 more than No. 2 Joseph Perkins), 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. He was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week following a dominating 14-tackle performance against Washington on Oct. 23. He currently ranks No. 6 in the Pac-10 in tackles per game.
Ten For Trevin
Junior cornerback Trevin Wade snared his 10th career interception against Iowa on Sept. 18, which put him in a tie for No. 10 in the NCAA for career active leaders in interceptions. Amazingly, it was second career "pick-six" with both coming against the Hawkeyes (one in 2009). His 85-yard return against the Hawkeyes this year tied for the sixth-longest in school history. To date, he has 36 tackles, two pass breakups and one interception on the season. He was a preseason candidate for a handful of national honors, including the Jim Thorpe Award, the Bonko Nagurski award and the Bednarik Award.
Colin the Shots
UA center Colin Baxter returns for his final season in a Wildcat uniform and will undoubtedly be calling the shots on the offensive line. He has started 48-consecutive games along UA's line, providing stability at a position of need. In 2008, he was slid from guard to center mid-year after center Blake Kerley went down with a season-ending injury. Since, Baxter hasn't look back. He's a featured spokesman for the team, offering unique perspective acquired from his time in the trenches and his tireless work with the program on and off the field. He was named a team captain prior to the season for the second straight year and will make a final push for national honors at his position. An All-Pac-10 selection a year ago, Baxter is on the Outland Trophy and Rimington Award watch lists entering the season. Several mid-year lists by various publicists have him as an All-American candidate.
Old Man on the Block
Arizona graduate offensive tackle Adam Grant, who moves to the left side this year after a couple of years on the right, is an NCAA-approved sixth-year player thanks to some earlier medical problems that caused him to miss nine games as a sophomore (knee) and his redshirt freshman year in 2006 (knee). He also missed six games with a hand injury in 2008. Grant's tenacity and physical situation are at all-time highs. The 24-year-old religious studies student earned his degree two Mays ago. He's a 29-game starter in 31 overall appearances and one of the team's spokesmen on a variety of topics, notably perseverance. He initially was recruited as a tight end (redshirted 2005 in that role) but his big frame (now 6-foot-8, 325) was evident, and his future was a few feet closer to the ball from the onset of his career. His showcase game was likely against then-No. 9 Iowa on Sept. 18, when he went head-to-head with Adrian Clayborn, an All-American defensive end. Clayborn finished with just three tackles and was never a threat in the backfield on pass plays. . Rushing Attack Intact Arizona's running back trio of Nic Grigsby, Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko has combined for over 4,000 career rushing yards. Through seven games this season, the current tally is 5,080 rushing yards, paced by Nic Grigsby's 2,891 yards, which places him No. 16 amongst active players in the NCAA for career rushing yards. Throw in Matt Scott's 622 career markers as a dual-threat quarterback, and you tally 5,702 career rushing yards ready to see the field at any time. Of course, UA's receivers are also threats on reverses and end-around plays, notably Travis Cobb, Terrence Miller and Juron Criner (50 rush yards at Stanford in 2010).
Not to Be Offensive
Over the course of the last 48 games, Arizona has scored 15 non-offensive touchdowns (nearly every 3 games or so). In 2007 and 2008, the Wildcats scored on two punt returns and two interception returns in each season. In 2009 , Travis Cobb scored on a kickoff return (95 yards), Bug Wright returned a punt to the house (86 yards), Orlando Vargas blocked a punt and returned it for a score (23 yards), and defensive backs Trevin Wade (38 yards) and Robert Golden (79 yards) had pick-six's. This season, Trevin Wade (85 yards) returned an interception for a scored against Iowa, and Travis Cobb has a 100-yard kickoff return against the Hawkeyes. UA has gone seven straight games without a non-offensive touchdown this season.
Impressive Starting Debut
True freshman cornerback Shaquille Richardson made his first career start against Washington State, and he didn't disappoint. Filling in for the injured Trevin Wade, the Carson, Calif., native intercepted a pair of passes, broke up three additional passes and registered seven tackles - all solo - against the Cougars. He two picks in his first career start are the first for a Wildcat since current San Diego Charger Antoine Cason snared two against Northern Arizona in the season opener of his true freshman season of 2004. Interestingly, Cason and Richardson both hail from the same high school - Los Alamitos - and both wear the same number: No. 5. The man Richardson filled in for - Wade - also picked off two passes in his Arizona debut, but did so as a redshirt freshman and in a reserve role. Wade's pair of picks came against Idaho in the 2008 season opener.
Arizona will wait to learn its bowl destination following the conclusion of the college football regular season on Saturday. Official bowl invitations will be extended on Sunday. Arizona figures to be in the mix for the Alamo or Holiday bowls with a win this week, and could look at the Sun Bowl or Las Vegas bowl with a loss.