Oct. 31, 2011
Arizona Football Weekly Release (PDF)
Weekly News Conference (VIDEO)
Utah (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) @ Arizona (2-6, 1-5 Pac-12)
Date: Nov. 5 Time: 4 p.m. (MST)
Location: Tucson, Ariz. (Arizona Stadium -- 56,100)
Television Broadcast: KWBA-TV (Tucson), FS Arizona Plus, FCS Central
TV Commentators: Dave Sitton (pxp), John Fina (analyst), Glenn Howell (sideline analyst)
UA Radio: Arizona Radio Network, 1290 AM Tucson
UA Radio Broadcasters: Brian Jeffries (pxp), Lamont Lovett (color analyst), Dana Cooper (sideline analyst)
UA Spanish Radio Broadcasters: 990 A.M. -- Francisco Romero (pxp), Marco Rincon (analyst)
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 117, XM 203 (Arizona radio broadcast)
Arizona-Utah Series History
All-Time Series: Utah leads, 19-15-2
First Meeting: 1924 (Utah 32, Arizona 7 at Salt Lake City)
Last Meeting: Sept. 2, 2005 (Utah 27, Arizona 24 at Tucson)
Streak: Utah has won two straight (UA won previous two meetings)
Some Game Themes
The Wildcats try to start the final third of the season on a good note... UA's last Pac-12 home game of the year... The Utes try to win a league game on the road for the first time in their Pac-12 history... Arizona pits its 465-yard offense against a team in the league's top three in total defense (325 ypg)... Arizona's beleaguered defense against the league's No. 12 offense... Some paperwork indications of what's in store -- UA has completed more passes (265) than Utah has attempted (225)... Utah running back John White has a 1,000-yard season in sight (915 yards) against a squad that's allowed 5.0 yards per attempt... As one of three 4-4 clubs in the circuit, Utah plays for continued bowl possibilities while Arizona's window is clear -- win out or stay home for the holidays... The Wildcats also need a victory to keep chances of no less than four league wins since the conference went to a nine-game format... UA also needs a win to keep alive a chance for a winning home record for a fifth-straight season ... From the Wildcats' perspective, seniors Nick Foles and Juron Criner chase a bevy of school records while as many as 23 freshmen (true and redshirt) continue to gain valuable experience heading into the final month of the regular season... Arizona re-engages an old rival under new co-affiliations, with 36 previous meetings (Utah leads 19-15-2)... It's Homecoming weekend on the University of Arizona campus...
Arizona jumped to a 10-point at the onset but couldn't stop Washington from scoring 14 in a five-minute span in the fourth quarter to beat the Cats, 42-31, in a hard-fought battle in Seattle. The Cats had the lead, 31-28, and the ball after Trevin Wade's 12th career interception with a dozen minutes left, but UW held the Cats to a 3-and-out, and then drove 81 yards for the go-ahead points. On the next possession, receiver Juron Criner fumbled a potential first down catch and the Huskies drove 50 yards for the insurance points. It was not exactly a defensive game, with 900 total yards, but each team had three interceptions, including UA's Robert Golden taking a tipped ball back 91 yards for a score to knot the game at 21-all in the third period. Marquis Flower added the Cats' third pick. Nick Foles, who threw for 388 yards and a pair of scores to Criner, was intercepted in Washington territory twice and in desperation mode near the end in UA's half of the field. The Huskies were led by running back Chris Polk, who finished with 144 yards and four rushing TDs, plus added 100 yards and a score on four receptions for a 244-yard all-purpose evening. Arizona's John Bonano, fresh off his first game as the kicker, socked three field goals including one of 47 yards, but two of those were part of the problem for uA -- points left in the red zone. The Cats had three red zone trips and got 13 points thereby. Washington had six red zone penetrations and scored six touchdowns. UA's rough night on third down -- 3-for-11 -- hurt, as did UW's whopping 10 yards per pass attempt and 18 yards per completion on a nice night from Keith Price. Criner turned in 11 catches for 118 yards. UA had a season-low 36 rushing yards on a season-low 19 tries and the single dimension helped Washington counter the Cats' moves. UA lost on the road for the fourth time in as many tries and fell to 1-5 in league play.
Arizona - Tim Kish (Otterbein '76), interim head coach (1-1)... This is Kish's first assignment as a head coach. The 36-year veteran of the college ranks has coached at Pac-12, Big Ten (Illinois, Northwestern), the Ohio prep ranks, Mid-American Conference schools (Ball State, Bowling Green State, Ohio) and a service academy (Army). He has been on Mike Stoops'Arizona staff as linebackers coach each of the latter's eight years in Tucson, the last two as co- or defensive coordinator. Kish played college ball as a DB at Otterbein, and later earned a master's degree from Bowling Green. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Mariemont High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1976. He has been on the defensive side of the ball all but one year in his college career, the 1982 season as QBs coach at Ball State. He and his wife, Angela, have two daughters and a son. His eldest, Megan, is a student at Ohio State. Utah - Kyle Whittingham (BYU '84), seventh year at Utah (62-24) and overall as a head coach. He was AFCA 2008 National Coach of the Year following the Utes' 13-0 mark and victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He was a linebacker at BYU from 1978-81 and began his coaching career in Provo as a G.A. in 1985. He coached at Eastern Utah and Idaho State before joining the Utah staff in 1994. He was DC in Salt Lake City from 1995-2004. He is 1-0 against Arizona with the victory coming in Salt Lake City in 2005.
Keep An Eye On...
- Juron Criner is one touchdown reception shy of tying Theopolis "T" Bell's school record of 30 scores set from 1972-74.
- Criner is 47 receiving yards shy of matching Bell's career total of 2,509 receiving yards, which ranks No. 4 in school history.
- Nick Foles is one passing touchdown shy of 60 for his career. He has 20 so far in 2011, and his next will push his season tally to the third-best in program history.
- Foles is 40 pass attempts shy of matching the 410 throws he had as a junior, which ranks as third-most in a single season at Arizona.
- Foles is one pass completion short of matching the 260 he had as a sophomore in 2009, which stands as the No. 3 mark in program history. He is 27 completions away from equaling the 286 he completed a season ago,
- Foles is 66 yards away from having a 3,000-yard passing season. He is 257 yards away from his 3,191 yards established a year ago as third-most in single season history. Foles needs 393 yards to match Jason Johnson's 3,327 yards set in 2002 as second-most in a season.
- Foles needs 396 yards of total offense to match Willie Tuitama's school record of 8,727 set from 2005-08.
- Trevin Wade has 12 career interceptions and is one shy of matching three former Wildcats (Dave Liggins - 1978-80, Roussell Williams - 1972-74, Tony Bouie - 1991-94) to share the No. 7 mark all-time at Arizona.
Senior wide receiver Juron Crinerhas been etching his name into the Arizona career records for some time, but now he's quickly moving up some of the conference's all-time charts. Most notable are Criner's 29 receiving touchdowns, which put him No. 7 all-time in league history. One more scoring catch will give the 6-foot-4 target a share of No. 5 with Mario Bailey (Washington, 1988-91) and Mike Williams (USC, 2002-03). Two more grabs will equal Sean Dawkins (California, 1990-92) mark that ranks fourth, and three more will match Jason Hill (Washington State, 2003-06) and Ken Margerum (Stanford, 1977-80), who share second place. Dwayne Jarret (USC, 2004-06) is the league's all-time touchdown receptions leaders. Criner is challenging for position on the chart with Washington's Jermaine Kearse, who has 28 scoring touchdowns entering this week's action. Criner ranks No. 40 all-time with 2,462 receiving yards and No. 23 with 181 career receptions. On the national scale, Criner's 29 receiving touchdowns rank fifth-most for active players, trailing only Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles (45), Notre Dame's Michael Floyd (33), Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (32) and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller (31).
Staring at the Stats
UA's No. 3 passing game (375 ypg) will try to put pressure on the Utes' 73rd-rated passing defense, while Utah's rushing defense (No. 11) could handle the Cats' 113th-rated running game. The Utes get to try to get something going for their 112th-rated offense against Arizona's 113th-rated defense... True freshman back Ka'Deem Carey touched the ball 10 times at Seattle and turned in 17 yards per touch running, catching and returning (KO) the pigskin. He's the club's leading receiver in yards per catch (15.6) with a modest nine receptions, averages 22 yards per kickoff return and 4.2 yards per rush. Each time, though, he's a guy with may-be-gone talents... Arizona has two games without a rushing TD -- Stanford and at Seattle. The season best was three rushing TDs against UCLA... The Cats matched their season high with two sacks at Husky Stadium. The Cats have only seven sacks in eight games. For a totally new offensive line, UA's unit has done a nice job limiting opponents to 16 sacks this year, middle of the Pac numbers but quite good considering the Wildcats' huge number of pass attempts. Add in Nick Foles rushing attempts (largely flush plays) and the Cats have dropped back to pass 410 times so the 16 sacks amount to an .039 percent frequency... Kicker John Bonano is averaging 12 points per game in the games when he had the opportunity -- the last two contests. That would lead the Pac-12 in kick scoring but he played the other six games as the kickoff guy. He wrested the job prior to the UCLA game and is a perfect 5-for-5 on field goals and 9-for-9 on PAT tries... Robert Golden's play at Seattle -- a 91-yard interception return -- covered about 130 yards. In the old days the play could have been recorded as an "intercepted fumble," the only way you could return a fumble prior to the rule change in the late 1980s -- if it didn't hit the ground. All-America linebacker Ricky Hunley had two of those among his 12 career picks. CB Trevin Wade tied Hunley and five others for No. 10 on Arizona's career INT chart with his 12th in Seattle...
Arizona is on pace for a 1,000-yard team rushing total in 2011, one that would rate 32nd among its 34 years in the Pac-10 or Pac-12. The lowest was a 527-yard rushing figure in 2002, on 360 attempts. UA toted the ball 320 times for 921 yards in 2007, next lowest. UA is on pace to finish with 324 rushing attempts, just head of that lowest total in Pac-10/12 history, the 2007 figure. On the other hand, Arizona's projected total offense of 5,500 yardse would be its second-highest total ever behind last year's 5,712. Arizona's getting yards -- one way, through the air.
Lengths of the Field
Safety Robert Golden's 91-yard interception return for a score at Washington was Arizona's fifth-longest in history and gave him two of the top 10 longest. He took one back 79 yards for a score against Stanford (Andrew Luck) in a 2009 victory. He has 184 yards on interceptions returns (4) in his career, which rates somewhere behind Antoine Cason's school-record 349 yards in 15 picks, and Darryll Lewis' 252 yards on 14 interceptions, the top two figures by Wildcats -- and both Jim Thorpe Award winners. Classmate Trevin Wade also two career touchdown returns (both against Iowa in 2009 and 2010) among his 12 career picks that have resulted in 203 career return yards.
The Arizona defense has not forced many turnovers this season. In fact, entering the Washington game, the Wildcats had turned opponents over just seven times in seven games. Because of this, the UA offense has not had many sudden change situations when it can capitalize off those turnovers. But against the Huskies, the Wildcats had some chances and couldn't capitalize. Late in the first half, with UW leading 14-13, Marquis Flowers grabbed a tipped pass for an interception near midfield. The offense trotted out with a chance to grab the lead, but five yards in three plays resulted in a punt. Later in the fourth quarter, Arizona was leading by three when Trevin Wade snared an interception to thwart a Huskies drive. Rather than chew some time off the clock or extend the lead, it was another quick three-and-out for the Wildcats' offense. Going forward, it will be a point of emphasis to capitalize on turnovers and find that killer instinct to finish games.
Arizona will have two players available after their one-game suspensions by the Pac-12 for a fighting incident in the UCLA game. Cornerback Shaquille Richardsonand nickel back Jourdan Grandon missed the Washington trip.
True Frosh Get 15
Arizona started true freshman linebacker Tra'Mayne Bondurant and true freshman cornerback Cortez Johnson against the Huskies. It was Bondurant's second consecutive start and probably the first couple in many for the 5-10, 195 pounder. His nose for the ball is evident -- matching career highs of eight and eight tackles in the two games, plus two tackles for loss, a sack and two PBUs. Johnson turned in a career-high seven hits and knocked down a pass in his first extended tour of action against UW. True freshmen Rob Hankins and Hank Hobson also started at the third LB position earlier this year. Bondurant, those two and redshirting (rehab) junior Jake Fischer(26 GP, 8 starts) figure to be in focus at that level of the defense next year...
Safety Marquis Flowers' game-high 11 tackles at Washington was his second double-digit game after a career high of 16 against Stanford earlier this season. Wildcats have had 10 or more tackles three other times -- linebacker Paul Vassallo had 11 hits against the Ducks, safety Adam Hall had 10 at Oregon State and safety Mark Watleyhad 11 against the Ducks. Vassallo leads the team with 53 total tackles while Flowers leads the team with 6.9 hits per game.
Did You Notice?
Last week at Washington, Arizona's top three tacklers were a true sophomore and two true freshmen. The leader of the group was sophomore safety Marquis Flowers who had 11, a continued sign that he's beginning to play faster. Next was freshman hybrid linebacker Tremayne Bondurant, who flashed some of his ball-hawking abilities in his second career start with eight tackles, a sack and two pass breakups. The third was freshman corner Cortez Johnson, who made his first career start in the absence of suspended Shaquille Richardson. Johnson recorded seven tackles and a pass breakup in very solid debut effort in the secondary.
Utah has visited Tucson for Homecoming just one other time before this Saturday's meeting: Nov. 16, 1969. Utah, then nicknamed the Redskins, carried a seven-game winning streak and a No. 20 national ranking into a late-season Western Athletic Conference contest in Tucson. A Utah victory would have ensured no worse than a tie for the league championship, but a resurgent Wildcat defense made big play after big play to lead Arizona to a thrilling Homecoming victory. It was a sluggish start to game as the two sides were scoreless after one quarter of play, but Utah claimed a 6-0 advantage early in the second period with a touchdown (the point after try was missed). Arizona's ensuing drive stalled out and led to a punt, but a Utah turnover deep inside its own territory changed the course of the game. Facing a 2nd-and-11 at his own 25-yard line, Utah quarterback Ray Groth was intercepted by Tucson native Rex Macklin, who returned to ball to the seven-yard line. The Wildcats punched it on the next play, as halfback Ron Gardin scooted the seven yards to the endzone to give Arizona a 7-6 lead. Utah kicked a go-ahead field goal with six seconds remaining in the first half and narrowly led, 9-7, at halftime despite out-gaining the Wildcats 215-80 in total offense. Arizona opened the second half with a strong defensive stand to force a punt after three plays, and Steve Wolfe returned the punt 46 yards to the Utah 39-yard line. The Wildcats wasted no time capitalizing on the momentum as fullback Willie Lewis scampered 39 yards off left tackle for the go-ahead touchdown. Utah answered with a 14-play, 80-yard drive to reclaim a 16-14 edge in the middle of the third quarter. Arizona's defense held Utah scoreless the rest of the way, and Steve Hurley booted a 21-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats a 17-16 lead. Utah had four more offensive possessions in the game, which ended with a three-and-out, two fumbles and an interception. Following the interception, the Wildcats ran the final two minutes off the clock to hold on for the stunning upset, 17-16.
UA defensive coordinator Tim Kish's fill-in work as a head coach (following the Oct. 10 dismissal of Mike Stoops) is unusual but not exclusively so. The acting job is a second for the Wildcats in the past decade. Then AD Jim Livengood removed John Mackovic from head coaching duties on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2003 after UA opened the season with a 1-4 record. He appointed defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz to take over the program for the duration of the season. Hankwitz, now defensive coordinator at Northwestern, led UA to a 1-6 finish for the program's lowest mark in the modern era, 2-10 (.0167). (The 1957 club under Ed Doherty, 1-8-1, had a lower winning percentage (.015). A few months after Mackovic's ouster, Mike Stoops was appointed. A search by UA Athletics Director Greg Byrne for his successor is well under way.
According to Jeff Sagarin's NCAA Football ratings, Arizona's schedule ranks as the toughest in the Pac-12 and the fourth-toughest in the nation to date. While not an excuse by any measure, four of UA's six losses have come on the road, while the two home foes (Stanford and Oregon) are a combined 15-1 on the season. Added together, Arizona's six losses have come against teams with a combined 37-11 record. Three of those teams are ranked in the top eight spots of the AP Top 25 poll and BCS standings this week, with Stanford and Oklahoma State boasting undefeated records.
Senior wide receivers David Douglas (#85) and David Roberts (#81) have quietly put together a pair of similarly consistent careers as Wildcats. Each has played in 45 games and each has 122 receptions. Coincidence or not, the receivers have etched their names into the school's career receptions list. The 122 grabs ranks as the eighth-best tally in program history.
Bonano On Target
After two games as the starting placekicker, senior John Bonano has made the most of his opportunity. He has successfully converted all nine PAT kicks and all five field goal tries in two games. He has totaled 24 points scored, which is already more than the 19 combined points for UA placekickers over the first six games of the seasons. His efforts in his starting debut against UCLA (six PATs, two field goals) earned him Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He followed up that performance with a career-best three field goals against Washington, including a career-long 47-yarder, which was also UA's longest kick of the season. Additionally, Bonano has 17 touchbacks on kickoffs, which ranks second in the Pac-12 and No. 11 nationally.
Spread the Wealth
How effectively has Nick Foles spread the ball around this season? Consider that 13 different targets have a reception. Nine players have at least 100 receiving yards, nine have a reception of 26 yards or longer and nine have a touchdown reception. Seven players have a reception of 40 yards or longer. Added together, the group averages 11.3 yards per reception. The headliner - Juron Criner - has 559 yards eight touchdowns on the season. The supporting cast includes seniors Gino Crump (45-442), David Douglas (36-374) and David Roberts (33-334). It also includes junior Dan Buckner (38-568), sophomore Richard Morrison (17-169) and redshirt freshman Austin Hill (16-238). The aerial attack also includes backfield targets Ka'Deem Carey (9-140), Keola Antolin (16-116) and Taimi Tutogi (5-51), who all have receiving touchdowns on the season. Those are some pretty talented players that Foles has to work with, and he includes them all.
Youth Be Served
A lot of teams around the country have played true freshmen this year. Arizona has played a total of 10 in 2011. The Cats have used DT Sani Fuimaono (started), LBs Rob Hankins and Hank Hobson (each with starts), RB Ka'Deem Carey, DBs Tramayne Bondurant and Cortez Johnson (mostly on special teams), DE Reggie Gilbert, TE Michael Cooper, WR Trevor Ermisch (special teams) and Josh Elias (snapper). Arizona also has played 13 redshirt freshmen -- OT Mickey Baucus (starter), OT Fabbians Ebelle (starter), DT Aiulua Fanene, safety/nickel back Jourdon Grandon (formation starts), defensive back Blake Brady (special teams) receiver Austin Hill (has started), OG Carter Lees (has started), DE Dan Pettinato, WR Tyler Slavin, OT Trent Spurgeon, DT Kirifi Taula (has started), and receiver Garic Wharton(KOR starts.). All added up, it's 23 freshmen playing for the Wildcats this season.
One of the goals for Arizona's defensive improvement will be to limit long plays by opponents. Through eight contests, the Wildcats have yielded 51 total offensive plays (14 rushing, 37 passing) of 20 or more yards, which is already more than the 41 allowed in 13 games a season ago. That's an astonishing 6.4 plays per game of 20 yards or more, for an average of nearly 140 yards. 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 36 plays of 20 or more yards through the air in the first seven games of the season. That's on the way to eclipsing the total of 46 long pass plays a year ago. In fact, nine different Wildcats have a reception of 20 or more yards so far, including seven with a 40-yarder and eight with a 30-yarder. But the Wildcats would also like to find some balance with the run. So far only four rushing plays have gained 20 or more yards - all 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.
Here's a quick look at where some notable Wildcats rank nationally among active career leaders in respective statistical categories.
- Keola Antolin's 453 career carries are 18th-most for active players
- Juron Criner's 181 career receptions are 17th-most for active players.
- Juron Criner's 2,462 career receiving yards are 17th-most for active players.
- Juron Criner's 29 career receiving touchdowns are 5th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 805 career pass completions are 7th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 8,611 passing yards are 8th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 59 passing touchdowns are 14th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 66.8% career completion percentage is 6th-best for active players
- Nick Foles' 277.8 career passing yards per game is 7th-best for active players
- Nick Foles' 26.0 career completions per game is 4th-best for active players
- Nick Foles' 1,205 career pass attempts is 8th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 773 pass completions are 7th-most for active players
- Nick Foles 38.9 pass attempts per game is 4th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 8,331 total offense yards are 13th-most for active players
- Trevin Wade's 12 career interceptions are tied for third nationally for active players.
- Trevin Wade's203 interception return yards are third-most for active players.
Arizona will wrap up its inaugural Pac-12 slate with a pair of road games in the coming weeks. The Wildcats play at Colorado (Time, TV is TBA) on Saturday, Nov. 12, and then travel to Arizona State on Saturday, Nov. 19 (Time, TV is TBA). The regular season schedule concludes on Saturday, Nov. 26, at Arizona Stadium, when the Wildcats host non-conference foe Louisiana-Lafayette (Time, TV is TBA).