Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.
Site: Tucson, Ariz. - Arizona Stadium (57,400)
Television: ABC (Dan Fouts, Tim Brant, Todd Harris)
English Radio: 1290 AM The Source (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett, Pedro Limon)
Spanish Radio: 990 AM ESPN Deportes (Francisco Romero, Marco Rincon, Pedro Limon)
Please see Page 3 of the notes for Arizonaˇ?s radio affiliates.
Some Game Themes
Arizona plays host to the upper division for the final thee games of the year, starting with UCLA -- which takes a mini respite against the seventh place squad before finishing up against the cream at the top. UA checks whether it can play with some prosperity (that winning feeling) against a club checking its resolve after dropping from the ranks of the conference unbeatens. Read: gut check for Arizona, huge game for UCLA... The Cats' No. 7-rated passing offense against UCLA's No. 83 mark in passing yards allowed. The Bruins have been reasonably solid at No. 42 in total defense... Arizona tries to play the kind of defense it showed in the final 12 minutes last week (zero points, two takeaways) ... A game involving four quality kickers in both placement and punting situations, underlining the special teams factor. Too, both teams will have breakaway threats catching the airborne elliptical objects... It's Homecoming on the University of Arizona campus.
Arizonaˇ?s game against UCLA this weekend ends a season-long stretch in which the Cats have played a game on 10-consecutive Saturdays without a rest. Following the game against the Bruins this weekend Arizona will play just two more games in the final four weeks of the college regular season. Despite the toll-taking schedule the Wildcats have fared well on the injury front. In nine games thus far UA has lost just six combined starts out of the original starting lineup (Dominic Patrick - Knee- four games and Terrell Turner -hamstring - two games).
Bring on November
There isnˇ?t a group that likes to see Halloween come-and-go like Mike Stoops and the Arizona Wildcats. Since arriving in 2004 Stoopsˇ? Troops have enjoyed the majority of their success in November, posting a 6-4 overall record, including a 4-1 mark against teams ranked in the top 25. Arizona has knocked off No. 18 Arizona State 34-27 in 2004, No. 7 UCLA 52-14 in 2005 and No. 25 Washington State (27-17) and No. 8 Cal (24-20) last season.
Arizona scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter behind some record-breaking passing by Willie Tuitama to make the best of a 1,000-yard game and beat Washington 48-41 before a crowd of 61,124 in Husky Stadium. The Cats' resilience in the comeback and some late-game defense helped turn the tide. UA's points in the stanza were the most at game's end in 11 seasons, dating to a 28-point outburst in a 41-0 runaway against Illinois in 1996. The purple tide on this day came in Washington compiling 200-plus rushing and 300-plus passing, mostly by quarterback Jake Locker (157 and 336, respectively). But Tuitama's school-record 510 passing yards, and five touchdown passes, underlined the efficacy of Arizona's spread offense, and answered whatever Washington offered. The Cats trailed 14-7, 28-14 and 41-26 at various moments, but kept at it. Arizona withstood an opponent-record 98-yard touchdown play (pass from Locker to Marcel Reece), a fumbled punt snap that led directly to a 30-yard return for a score, a missed extra point, and the 15-point fourth-quarter lead by UW. The first score of the game, a Tuitama to Mike Thomas pass for 66 yards, was a hint of the things to come -- a total of 19 scrimmage plays of 19 yards or more (by both squads) including Tuitama to Rob Gronkowski for 51 yards and a score, Tuitama to Terrell Turner for 33 yards and a score, and Tuitama to Thomas for 27 yards and the winning score at the end. The average per play for both teams in compiling 1,105 yards -- 7.3 yards. The average per completion: 15.3 yards. Tuitama connected on 38 of 51, while Locker hit 17 of 30. Thomas gained 173 yards on six kickoff returns to give him 338 all-purpose yards, the third-best total in UA history. Tuitama posted 517 yards in total offense, also a school record. The Cats scored 17 points off UW turnovers, Antoine Cason cemented the victory with his 14th career interception, Thomas tied a school record with three receiving TDs among his 10 catches for 165 yards -- plus caught a two-point conversion pass to knot the score at 41-41, linebacker Spencer Larsen had 12 tackles, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Arizona snapped a three-game losing streak. The comeback was among Arizona's best in league play, behind the top deficit-eraser of 18 points at Cal in 1980 (trailed 21-3, won 31-24).
Notes from Washington
The 48 points scored by Arizona were the most a Wildcat team has posted against a UW team and the 89 combined points scored in the game were most for a single contest between the two schools ... Arizonaˇ?s win was just its third in school history in Husky Stadium ... Mike Stoops improved to 2-0 against Washington in Seattle ... Arizona converted a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. It was the first two-point try under Mike Stoops and the first successful conversion for UA since 2001 ... Willie Tuitamaˇ?s fourth quarter numbers - 13 of 14, including 11 straight completions and a two-point PAT conversion to end the game, for 130 yards and three TDs ... Mike Thomasˇ? 66-yard TD reception in the first quarter was Arizonaˇ?s longest play from scrimmage this season ... Washingtonˇ?s school-record 98-yard TD score in the second quarter tied for the longest opponent play in Arizona history ... The five takeaways (three fumbles, two picks) by Arizona represented a season-high ... Thomas hauled in 10 passes for a career-high 165 yards, his career-best third 100-yards receiving game this season ... Thomasˇ? 20 points (3 TDs, 2-pt PAT) tied for the 10th-most in a single game in school history ... UWˇ?s block of a Jason Bondzio PAT in the second quarter snapped a team streak of 58 successful PAT tries dating back to 2005 ... Nate Ness picked off his third pass of the season and returned it a career-high 31 yards ... Antoine Cason posted his team-leading fourth pick of the year ... Spencer Larsenˇ?s game-high 12 tackles marked the third straight game the senior LB has posted double digit stops ... UA had a season-low 20 penalty yards at Washington. Two false starts came on 1st-and-10, a delay of game came purposefully on 4th-and-1 for better punting position, and another false start came on 2nd-and-10 ... The 14 combined kickoff returns in the game tied the Arizona single-game record and were the most since 1954.
It Came Close
The shoot-out between Arizonaˇ?s Willie Tuitama (517 yards of offense) and Washingtonˇ?s Jake Locker (493) last weekend came up just 20 yards shy of breaking UAˇ?s all-time duel. In a contest at Cal in 1996 UAˇ?s Keith Smith came up with 502 yards of total offense and Berkeleyˇ?s Pat Barnes had 528 for 1,030 combined yards between the two. Tuitama and Lockerˇ?s total? 1,010 yards of total offense. The difference? Well besides the 20 yards, Tui and Locker did it in a regulation 60 minutes, while Smith and Barnes had the benefit of three overtime periods.
UCLA and Arizona Fast Facts
First Meeting: 1927 (Arizona 16 - UCLA 13 in Tucson, Ariz.)
Last Meeting: 2006 (UCLA 27 - Arizona 7 in Los Angeles)
All-Time Series Record: UCLA leads 19-10-2
Arizona vs. UCLA All-Time: The 33rd all-time meeting between Arizona and UCLA ... The Bruins hold a 19-10-2 edge in the series and have won five of the last six meetings between the two ... Arizona snapped a series-high-tying four game losing streak to UCLA the last time the two schools met in Tucson in 2005 ... The all-time series is tied 8-8 when the game is played in Tucson, but the Bruins hold an 8-7 edge in games played in Arizona Stadium.
Arizona-UCLA- The Last Time Out
The Bruin defense knocked out QB Willie Tuitama early and returned an interception 89 yards for a score late, as UCLA outlasted Arizona 27-7 in the Rose Bowl last year ... Including three QB sacks, UCLA held Arizona to negative-13 yards rushing in the contest ... The UA defense held its own, limiting the Bruin offense to just 292 yards of total offense ... Departed UA QB Adam Austin tossed his first career TD pass in the loss ... UCLA QB Patrick Cowan tossed a pair of TD passes and threw for 201 yards before getting injured in the second half of play.
Noting the Bruins
The Bruins enter the week of play with a 5-3 overall record and a 4-1 league mark ... UCLA dropped its first Pac-10 game of the season last weekend when it fell to Washington State 27-7 in Pullman ... The Bruins bring a balanced offensive attack, averaging 209.5 yards passing and 171.13 yards rushing per game ... RB Kahill Bell has been a pleasant surprise for the Bruins this season, averaging nearly 100 yards rushing per game to rank fourth in the Pac-10 and 35th nationally.
ˇ®Moneyˇ? Mike Thomasˇ? 338 all-purpose yards against Washington last weekend were the third-most by a single player in school history. Had UA tossed in one or two of Mikeˇ?s patented end arounds - good for 15 yards a pop - he could have displaced UAˇ?s ˇ®Cactus Cometˇ? Art Luppino as the top all-purpose runner for a single game.
Single-Game All-Purpose Yards
|1||Art Luppino||1954||New Mexico State||8 plays, 359 yards|
|2||Derek Hill||1987||Stanford||15 plays, 340 yards|
|3||Mike Thomas||2007||Washington||16 plays, 338 yards|
The Wildcats are 43-32-5 all-time on homecoming weekend ... Arizona has a two-game winning streak in Homecoming games ... Homecoming has witnessed three of the biggest upsets in Arizona history 1) In 1992 the Desert Swarm defense dominated No. 1-ranked Washington, stunning the Huskies 16-3. 2) The Wildcat offense ran rampant over a previously unbeaten and No. 7-ranked UCLA Bruin team with a 52-14 win in 2005. 3) Antoine Cason returned a Nate Longshore interception 39 yards for the go-ahead TD in a 24-20 win over No. 8-ranked Cal last season ... The Cats have played UCLA five times on the alumni weekend, winning 16-13 in 1927, losing 24-19 in 1985, winning 35-17 in 1996, losing 37-7 in 2002 and winning the upset in the previously mentioned 2005 game.
The Big Four-Oh
Forty seems to be the magical number for the Wildcats this season. As would be expected, when scoring 40 or more points Arizona is a perfect 3-0 this year. Excluding this year, UA has scored 40 or more points in a game three times in a season only four times since joining the Pac-10 in 1978 (1982, 1983, 1988 and 1998) and has not had four games of 40 or more points since 1954. Including this season, Arizona is 104-2 all-time when scoring 40 or more points, with the two loses coming in a 56-55 triple overtime game at Cal in 1996 and a 48-41 loss to USC in Tucson in 1982.
It wasnˇ?t quite John Elway and the Denver Broncos ala 1987, but Willie Tuitama and the Wildcats capped off a 15-point, fourth-quarter come-from-behind victory over Washington last weekend with a pretty impressive drive at the end of the game. Tied 41-41 with 7:16 remaining, the Cats went 80 yards on 11 plays to score the game-winning TD with just 2:02 left to play. On the final push, Tuitama hit five different receivers to go 7-for-7 for 71 yards on passing attempts, Nic Grigsby rushed three times for five additional yards and RT Eben Britton saved the day with a fumble recovery for four yards on the driveˇ?s first play. The Cats converted three third downs on the drive (they were just 4 of 12 on the day heading into the final possession) and Tuitama and Mike Thomas hooked up for a 27-yard throw-and-catch score to cap it all off.
Willie Tuitama and the Yardage Factory
Junior quarterback Willie Tuitama's 517 yards in total offense at Washington is tops in the Pac-10 this year, Dennis Dixon and Jake Locker notwithstanding. Matter of fact, Willie's number is the No. 3 figure in Pac-10 history behind Jeff Van Raaphorst's 532 yards in a loss against Florida State in Tempe in 1984 and Pat Barnesˇ? 528 yards posted in a three overtime game against the Cats in 1996. The 510 passing yards Tuitama put up against the Huskies -- helped by a 247.6 pass efficiency rating in the fourth quarter alone -- gave him the No. 5 single-game passing yardage in Pac-10 history. You're talking about matching his effort against a boatload of guys with revered names and jerseys at some schools of note.
The rate is going up. If Arizona tight ends catch the ball, good things happen. The Cats have 21 grabs by Rob Gronkowski (15), Earl Mitchell (5) and A.J. Simmons (1). Six of those catches scored touchdowns. Gronkowski continues to show Freshman All-America talent by leading the club with 21.9 yards per catch and has scored on receptions of 51, 18, 57 and 26 stripes, an average of 38 yards per score. Mitchell (7 yards) and Simmons (3 yards) have been used in close for the TD.
Freshman tight end Rob Gronkowski already owns the UA single-game receiving yardage record for a tight end with his 4-115 effort against WSU this year. Now he's put himself in reach of the UA's top two for season tight-end yardage. Mark Keel has the record with 513 yards on 32 catches as a junior in 1980. He had 343 yards on 27 catches his senior year in 1981. Steve Fleming posted 332 yards on 23 catches as a senior in 2004. Gronk has 329 yards on 15 snares this campaign. Keel had the only other tight end 100-yard game with an even 3-100 effort vs. Stanford in 1982. Keel also owns the single-game receptions mark for a tight end with seven catches for 88 yards vs. Washington State in 1981.
Single-Season TE Receiving List
|Mark Keel||32-513, 1980 junior|
|Mark Keel||27-343, 1981 senior|
|Steve Fleming||23-332, 2004 senior|
|Rob Gronkowski||15-329, 2007 freshman|
|B. Manumaleuna||20-316, 1999 junior|
|Brad Wood||27-304, 2005 junior|
|Mike Metzler||23-191, 1996 senior|
Getting Up Field
Arizonaˇ?s six primary receivers - Mike Thomas (11.3), Terrell Turner (12.1), Anthony Johnson (11.6), Delashaun Dean (11.1), Terrell Reese (10.1) and Rob Gronkowski (21.9) - are all averaging better than 10 yards per catch this season. In an offense that relies heavily on the short passing game, the Wildcatsˇ? ability to turn up field and pick up YAC has been impressive.
Spencer for Hire
Spencer Larsen, the heart and soul of the linebacking corps, has turned up an already impressive game the last three weeks. Against USC, Stanford and Washington the senior has posted 43 total tackles, including 30 solo stops and 6.5 for losses, and he has forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and picked off a pass - His second career INT. Larsen currently leads Arizona in both tackles (92 TT - 56 ST, 36 AT) and tackles for loss (8.5). His 10.2 tackles per game average thus far leads the Pac-10 and his projected 123 tackle-year would make him the first Wildcat defender to go over 120 tackles for a season since Marcus Bell posted 124 total stops in 1999 ... Larsenˇ?s? 12 tackles last weekend at Washington helped him eclipse his previous career season-high of 89 tackles established last year ... Larsen has three straight games with at least 10 tackles. The last Arizona player to do so was former FS Darrell Brooks in 2005.
The L-Train Line
Senior tackle Lionel Dotson has more sacks, 5.5, than any interior defensive lineman at Arizona since eventual edge-rusher Joe Tafoya played inside as a junior in 1999 and notched 10. Since then, no tackle had more than four. The L-Train's overall 35 tackles are a career season-best for him, eclipsing the 31 he notched a year ago. Dotson had a career-high nine hits against Stanford on Oct. 20, with two tackles for loss and a sack. That came on the heels of his then career-high of seven at USC on Oct. 13. Lionel's season total of 39 tackles is the most by a DT since Carlos Williams notched 34 in 11 games in 2004. The most recent higher number came from Joe Salave'a in 1997, with 46 and 11.5 sacks. Joe earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors that year as a fifth-year senior.
Redshirt junior Nate Ness has done a nice job in filling in for injured Dominic Patrick. He's second to Antoine Cason (4) with three interceptions and has 17 tackles in the last three games, including a career-high 10 against Washington last weekend. Patrick, one of the team's top hitters, has a torn MCL and is available on a limited basis.
Stepping In Front of It
The Wildcats have picked off two passes in the last five straight games (Washington State through Washington) and have at least one interception in seven consecutive contests dating back to the New Mexico game on Sept 15. Arizonaˇ?s 11 interceptions in conference games only leads the Pac-10 and the 12 total for the year are tied for second with Oregon State. Arizona State leads the Pac-10 with 14 picks for the year.
Going the Distance
Arizona has been provided very few gimme TDs this season. Save for a short 30-yard drive against Washington last week, UA has had to earn the majority of its points this year. The Wildcats, who are averaging 65.2 yards per TD drive this season, have had to move the ball 60 or more yards on 19 of their 27 touchdowns.
When Will Willie?
It appears evident the new offensive style will take junior quarterback Willie Tuitama to the top of the Arizona charts. When? Stay tuned.
--Has the single-game pass attempts (61) and completions (42) records (at Cal)
--Has the No. 1 single-game passing yards total with 510 (at Washington)
--Is No. 1 in single-season pass completions (257)
--Is No. 1 in single-season TD passes (21)
--Is No. 2 in single-season passing attempts (398)
--Is No. 2 in single-season passing yards (2,804)
--Is No. 3 in career completions (457)
--Is No. 4 in career passing attempts (751)
--Is No. 7 in career touchdown passes (37)
--Is No. 7 in career passing yards (5,244)
G-Man Chasing C-Farm's High
True freshman Nic Grigsby has 505 net rushing yards, with a solid 4.5 yards per carry figure (112 tries). That puts him in stead for a run at former UA back Clarence Farmer's all-time freshman rushing mark of 666 yards (138 carries) in 2000 when he earned Freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News. Farmer and Ontiwaun Carter are Arizona's only true freshmen to have three 100-yard rushing games as first-year players. Nic has a pair. Carter ran for 606 yards on 113 carries in a rushing-dominated offense (528 runs, 198 passes) in 1991.
Top True Freshman Running Seasons at Arizona
|Clarence Farmer||2000||138-666, 5 TD|
|Vance Johnson||1981||123-654, 6 TD|
|Ontiwaun Carter||1991||113-606, 4 TD|
|Hubie Oliver||1977||95-519, 1 TD|
|Nic Grigsby||2007||112-505, 1 TD|
The Wildcats have scored 251 points in nine games thus far, which has already far surpassed the 12-game total of 199 last year ... Three of Arizonaˇ?s six losses this season are by a touchdown or less, including a two-point loss to New Mexico and a one-point defeat to Stanford ... The spread offense has made changes to UA's program. One hidden effect is punting. Through nine games last year Arizona had punted 55 times. Through the same number of contests this year -- 39 ... The spread also has the clear effect: plenty of receivers with solid totals. UA could have six players with 30 or more catches by year's end based on per-game numbers, plus two other guys have the capacity to reach the level based on single-game highs. Mike Thomas (63-712, 9 TD) and Terrell Turner (37-449, 3 TD) have the duo look going, well above last year's rate by Syndric Steptoe (55-568) and Thomas (50-597) ...
Moving the Chains
The Wildcats have recorded 185 total first downs in the first nine games this season (52 rush, 113 pass, 20 penalty), which is already better than last seasonˇ?s 12-game total of 173. Should the Cats continue to move the chains at the current pace (20.6 first downs per game) they would finish the 12-game regular season with 247. The projected sum total for the year would narrowly nab the top spot in school history (246 in 1975). Individually this season, true frosh Nic Grigsby grabbed the lead when he accounted for 16 of Arizonaˇ?s 28 first downs against WSU on Sept. 29 (12 rush, 4 rec.). Grigsby leads all rushers with 33 first downs on the ground, while Mike Thomas paces the way through the air with 28 receiving first downs.
Cason for the Defense
Senior cornerback Antoine Cason continues to show why he's been rated among the top defenders at his position nationally. He has 14 career interceptions, tied for fourth on the UA career Top 10 chart, and is tied for 10th in PBUs on UA's career chart with 24 passes destroyed. Including a game-clinching pick in the waning seconds at Washington last weekend, Cason has picked off a pass in three of UAˇ?s last four games. Additionally, he returned an interception 60 yards for a score at Oregon State this year, second-longest in the conference thus far, to mark his second career scoring return after a game-winning 39-yard return against No. 8 Cal last year.
All-Time Interception leaders
|1||21 - Chuck Cecil, 1984-87|
|2||20 - Jackie Wallace, 1970-72|
|3||18 -?Chris McAlister, 1996-98|
|4||14 - Darryll Lewis, 1987-90|
|14 - Allan Durden, 1982-85|
|14 -?Antoine Cason, 2004-07|
Youˇ?re Going the Wrong Way
On a 27-yard pickoff return against USC on Oct. 13? Thorpe Award candidate Antoine Cason not only moved into the top six all-time in career interceptions, but he also took over the top spot in career interception return yardage. The fourth-year starter has now racked up 307 yards on 14 career interceptions to move him past former all-time leader Darryll Lewis (252 on 14 returns, 1987-90). For the time being, Lewisˇ? single-season mark of 192 INT returns yards on seven picks from 1990 appears to be safe, but Antoine, who has 122 INT return yards this season, still has three games and a lot off passes thrown his way to catch up. Should Cason maintain his career average of 21.9 yards per return he would easily slide into the top spot at Arizona, which is currently held by Dennis Anderson who averaged 13.16 yards per return on 12 career interceptions from 1972-75.
Money Mike Notes
Junior WR ˇ®Moneyˇ? Mike Thomas is quickly making his way up both the single-season and career receiving charts (see left) ... First in the Pac-10 in receptions per game (7.00) and is third in the conference in receiving yards per game (79.1) ... Is fifth in the Pac-10 in all-purpose yards (132.0) ... Has caught nine TD passes this season to surpass his previous career high of five set in 2005 ... Has already caught a career season-high 63 passes this year ... Needs just 60 yards this year to pass his single-season highs of 771 yards set in 2005 ... He recorded back-to-back 100-yard receiving games against New Mexico and Cal earlier this season and recorded his career-best third 100-yard game last weekend at Washington (10 for 165 yards) ... He caught at least one TD in four straight games (NAU-WSU) ... Tied the school record for TD receptions in a single game last weekend with three and has twice caught two TD passes in a game (NAU and WSU) ... Has at least one reception in each of the last 21 games played ... Has caught at least one pass in 41 of 42 career games, with the one no-catch game coming against Arizona State in 2005 when he had a full cast on his left hand and served the entire game as a decoy ... If he stays on his current pace of 7.0 receptions, 79.1 yards and 1.0 TD per game, heˇ?ll wrap up the 12-game regular season with 84 catches for 949 yards and 12 scores ... He has 2,694 career all-purpose yards largely on the strength of pass receiving. He's never been the featured kick or punt returner but has chipped in a few yards there plus 244 rushing yards to get to the figure. He should end up in the Arizona career Top 10 all-purpose leaders at his current pace. He needs 1,101 yards to supplant Chuck Levy at No. 10 (3,795 from 1991-93).???
Bondzio, James Bondzio
Actually his name is Jason and the only nifty gadget he has is a deceptively strong leg, but UA place kicker Jason Bondzio has been on point this season. Making 16 of 20 field goal attempts (80%) and successfully converting 25 of 26 PAT tries he has racked up a team-best 75 points scored. In just nine games played he has already surpassed departed PK Nick Folkˇ?s team-high 67 points from last year and is just seven points away from cracking UAˇ?s all-time top 10 list for points in a season (No. 10 - 82 points, Bobby Thompson, 1961). Additionally, Bondzioˇ?s 16 FG makes this year is fifth all-time for a single season.
Single Season Field Goals
Making Them Cry
Redshirt frosh punter Keenyn Crier has made returners do just that. The first-year kicker leads the Pac-10 and is ninth nationally with a 44.7 yards per punt average, not too shabby for a newcomer. Crier has placed 14 of his 38 punts inside the oppositionˇ?s 20 yard-line this season and has had six kicks fair caught. At USC on Oct. 13 he placed five of his seven punts inside the 11-yard-line (the 11, 10, 4, 2 and 1 to be exact) and booted the second-longest punt in school history when he boomed an 83-yarder in the fourth quarter en route to being named the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week. That punt was the longest at Arizona since 1930.
True frosh TE Rob Gronkowski provided one of the top highlights in Arizona's 47-20 win over Washington State on Sept. 29, the first-year starter caught a pass from QB Willie Tuitama, turned up-field and rumbled 57 yards for a TD, knocking over would-be tacklers from the 30-yard-line on-in in the process. The reception was the longest in his short but very promising UA career and his third career score. Although he has only played just nine games, Gronkowski is already statistically placing himself among the top TEs in school history. A look at what Gronk has done through nine games against the career totals of some of the best TEs UA has had to offer over the years.