Oct. 22, 2012
No. 10 USC (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) at Arizona (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12)
Arizona Weekly Game Notes (PDF)
Date: Oct. 27 Time: 12:30 p.m. (MST)
Location: Tucson, Ariz. (Arizona Stadium -- 51,811)
Television Broadcast: ABC (reverse mirror on ESPN2)
TV Broadcasters: Joe Tessitore (pxp), Matt Millen (analyst), Maria Taylor (sideline)
UA Radio: Arizona Radio Network, 1290 AM Tucson (see page 4 of this release for complete list of affiliates)
UA Radio Broadcasters: Brian Jeffries (pxp), Lamont Lovett (color analyst), Dana Cooper (sideline analyst)
UA Spanish Radio: 990 AM -- Francisco Romero (pxp), Marco Rincon (analyst)
National Radio: Sports USA Radio (John Ahlers, Gary Barnett)
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 113/94, XM 200/201
Online Coverage: GameTracker | Live Audio
Some Game Themes: A top-25 team visits Arizona Stadium for the third time this season for a rather unusual, but welcomed lunchtime kickoff ... The preseason favorite in the Pac-12 South (USC) brings conference title and even national title aspirations to the Old Pueblo against the home-standing Wildcats, who commence a five-week stretch against intra-division foes after a four-game run against North Division foes ... A highly competitive series in recent seasons with the last five contests all decided by a touchdown or less ... Arizona seeks its first victory against the Trojans in Tucson since 1999 ... A showcase of explosive offenses and a plethora of skill position stars on each side ... Heisman hopeful Matt Barkley, who passed for a school-record 468 yards against the Cats in the Coliseum a year ago, faces a Wildcat defense that appeared reinvigorated against Washington following a bye week ... Barkley's counterpart, Matt Scott, faces the Trojans for the first time in his career and hopes to continue a run of stellar play in his first full season as a starter .... Rising star Ka'Deem Carey (12 TDs, 1,080 all-purpose yards) has packed some punch in the run game for the Cats and gets another crack against the team he burst onto the scene against as a true freshman (3 total TDs last year) ... Each school boasts two of the top-nine receivers in the Pac-12, led by USC's Marqise Lee's conference-leading 784-yard, eight-touchdown season and UA's Austin Hill's 678-yard, seven-score campaign ... Statistically, the Trojans possess an advantage on defense with the second-ranked scoring defense in the league ... The Cats counter with the second-highest scoring offense and hope their opportunistic, bend-but-don't break defense can create some pressure the way it did against the Huskies ... Can UA, which has improved its red zone scoring in recent weeks, move the ball and punch it in the endzone against a USC squad that ranks among top-10 nationally for fewest redzone scores allowed ... USC seeks its 800th all-time victory, while Rich Rodriguezand Co. seek a signature conference win in the early stages of their program development.
The Coaches: Arizona - Rich Rodriguez (West Virginia '86), first year at Arizona (4-3) and 18th as a head coach overall (124-87-2). Rodriguez was introduced as the 30th head coach of the UA football program on Nov. 22, 2011. He carries Division I records of 4-3 at Arizona, 60-26 at West Virginia (2001-2007) and 15-22 at Michigan (2008-10). He began his head coaching career at Salem (W.Va.) University in 1988 and then coached at Glenville State (W.Va.) from 1990-96. Rodriguez's West Virginia teams were Big East Champions in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 while appearing in two BCS bowls, the 2005 Sugar Bowl with a victory over Georgia for an 11-1 record and a victory over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl to finish 10-2 shortly after Rodriguez had left for Michigan. Southern California - Lane Kiffin (Fresno State '98), third year at USC (24-8) and fourth year overall as a head coach (31-14). 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.
UA-USC 2011 Rewind: Arizona spotted USC 17 points in the early going and couldn't overcome the deficit in a 1,000-yard track meet at the Coliseum, dropping a 48-41 decision for its fourth consecutive loss. Trojan QB Matt Barkley threw for 468 yards and four scores while UA's Nick Foles threw for 425 yards and four scores. One difference -- two picks off Foles in the first quarter that led to USC scoring drives. Nearly anything led to a USC scoring drive as the Trojans scored on their first six possessions before Barkley was picked by Shaq Richardson in the third stanza. That led to an Arizona score as well -- one of six consecutive scoring possessions for the Cats. Once the Cats started scoring they pulled to within a touchdown, 41-34, but couldn't get a stop and USC mounted a quick and definitive drive, going 79 yards in five plays for its final points with nine minutes left. Arizona answered but couldn't pull off an onside kick attempt inside the final minute. Foles (41-for-53, 77%) and Barkley (32-39, 82%) were sharp throughout, but USC's 12.0 yards per attempt -- fueled by the second play the Trojans ran, an 82-yard swing pass to Robert Woods for a score -- were devastating. Woods ended up with 14 receptions for 255 yards and two scores, joined by Marqise Lee with eight grabs for 144 yards and a score. Foles spread his goods around, complete three or more passes to nine different receivers and throws to a dozen overall. UA's running game improved, with Keola Antolin netting 87 markers on 15 tries and Ka'Deem Carey scoring twice on 12 tough runs. True freshman Carey added a first receiving score to the inaugural running touchdowns in his young career. The Wildcats posted a then-school-record 37 first downs, but USC was gaining yards in chunks (9.1 per play) and couldn't fit more than 26 first downs in its 582 yards of offense. The Cats gained 554. There were two punts in the game, one in each half by UA's Kyle Dugandzic. USC did not punt.
Oh So Close: They say you are what your record says you are. In that sense, the Wildcats are in fact 4-3. But with one more play here (vs. Oregon State) and one more play there (at Stanford), Arizona instead could be boasting at a 6-1 record. The Wildcats held a 35-31 lead over the Beavers at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 29, but OSU put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive over the next 4:25 for the game-winning touchdown in a 38-35 come-from-behind victory. Arizona twice had the Beavers facing third downs on the decisive drive, but couldn't muster one final stop. A week later at Stanford on Oct. 6, the Cats clawed their way to a 48-34 lead midway through the fourth quarter. However, the Cardinal rallied to get within one score, before converting on a pair of fourth down plays on its final drive to tie the game 48-48 and force overtime. Stanford prevailed 54-48. Indeed, the Cats have been a few plays short, but still a positive sign for where Rich Rodriguez and Co. have the program in their first season in Tucson.
Treacherous Schedule: For the fifth time in eight games - and the fourth in the last five - Arizona is set to take on a nationally-ranked opponent. So far, UA's FBS opponents are a combined 32-9 this season, and Jeff Sagarin ranks UA's schedule as the 11th-toughest in the nation. The Wildcats have defeated Toledo (7-1 overall record), Oklahoma State (4-2) and Washington (3-4) in Tucson, while losing to Oregon (7-0) on the road, Oregon State (6-0) in Tucson, and Stanford (5-2) on the road. The three losses have each been at the hands of ranked opponents, while the Cats knocked off a nationally-ranked Oklahoma State in the second week of the season. Oh, and UA's opening foe, Toledo, has won seven straight games since leaving Tucson with a season-opening loss on Sept. 1. So now comes No. 10 USC, a team with a 6-1 record and potential Pac-12 and national championship aspirations on the line. The Cats can certainly make another claim at relevancy this week.
Nifty Fifty: Arizona has topped the 50-point mark in three of its seven games to date, something that hasn't been done in a single season at the school since 1954. It's an impressive feat considering how few 50-point games have been for the Wildcats in that span. Including the 59, 56 and 52 points scored in games this year, Arizona has reached the half-century number only 20 times since the 1954 season, boasting a record of 19-1 in such contests (defeat was a 56-55, 3OT loss at California in 1996). Only the 2008, 1998 and 1983 squads put up 50 or more points in a game on two occasions. The 1954 gridiron club defeated New Mexico State (58-0), Utah (54-20) and Arizona State (54-14).
Nothing Negative Here: In a season full of mind-boggling offensive superlatives, it's not points scored, first downs gained or total plays ran that will catch your eye when looking back at Saturday's stats. A deeper look at the stat sheet, notably the defensive page, shows Washington did not record a single tackle for loss. That sounds impressive by itself, but it's actually the first time in 202 games that the Wildcats did not yield a tackle for loss to an opponent. The last such occurrence was in a 19-14 win at Georgia Tech on Sept. 1, 1994. The Cats did lose yardage on one offensive play last week when a pass attempt slipped out of Matt Scott's hands for a fumble and a loss of eight yards. There was no tackle credited, however, since Scott recovered the ball on his own while on the ground.
Pitching a Shutout: Kudos to the Wildcat defense, which shut out Washington in the second half of last week's game. It was the second time Arizona blanked an opponent in the second half this season (beat SC State 56-0 on Sept.15), but it was the first time it has done so against a conference opponent in two years. In fact, the last time the Cats' defense posted a second half zero on the scoreboard was against Washington on Oct. 23, 2010 (44-14 victory).
Sack Attack: Arizona defenders finally found a way to get to the quarterback last week, combining for a season-high four sacks against Keith Price and the Huskies. Sophomore defensive lineman Reggie Gilbert, who missed the Stanford game with an ankle injury, returned with a vengeance by collecting a career-best 1.5 sacks. Sophomore linebacker Hank Hobson shared a half-sack with Gilbert, the second-consecutive game in which Hobson split a sack. Senior end Taimi Tutogi, who doubles as UA's starting fullback on offense, registered his first career sack and had career highs in tackles (3) and tackles for loss (1.5). Junior linebacker Marquis Flowers picked up a sack to push his team-leading tally to 3.5 sacks on the season. Arizona, which went from six to 10 sacks on the season in one game, turned in more than two sacks in a single game for the first time since totaling six against Arizona State on Dec. 2, 2010 - a span of 19 games in between. The Wildcats, who had just three sacks over the first four games, have seven in their last three.
Matinee Matchup: Saturday's 12:30 p.m. kickoff will be an early one for patrons at Arizona Stadium accustomed to 7 p.m. or later starts at each of the first five home games in 2012. In fact, it will be the earliest start to a UA home game since also kicking off at 12:30 p.m. for an eventual 34-27 Homecoming victory against UCLA on Nov. 3, 2007. Arizona Stadium has played host to some memorable afternoon games over the years, with the most notable being a 16-3 upset of then-No. 1 Washington on Nov. 7, 1992. That game kicked off at 1:30 p.m. local time, though on the ABC telecast that day it was in the same 3:30 p.m. ET slot (after the time change, which the state of Arizona does not observe) in which this week's UA-USC contest is set.
Youth Movement: Arizona has played 40 freshmen or sophomores this season, comprising more than half of the nearly 75 Wildcats to see the field. The Wildcats have played 10 true freshmen, the fourth-most of any Pac-12 school and among the top-20 nationally (research courtesy of David Plati at Colorado). With redshirts mixed in, UA has played more than 20 freshmen, most on defense. In fact, the youth movement is most prominent on the defensive side of the ball, where 14 of the 22 players listed on the regular two-deep are freshmen or sophomores. From that group, six of UA's top eight tacklers are freshmen or sophomores, led by safeties Jourdon Grandon (47), Jared Tevis (42) and Tra'Mayne Bondurant (44). Bondurant leads the team with 10.5 tackles for loss.
Matt's The Man: Quarterback Matt Scott, who redshirted in 2011, is putting together a stellar senior season, if statistics are any indication. The Corona, Calif., native entered 2012 with five previous career starts and is now a 12-game starter (8-4 record) as a Wildcat. He possesses a complete repertoire of skills at the quarterback position, including ability to make all the throws on the field and hurt defenses with his legs.
Tracking Matt: Senior quarterback Matt Scott has emerged as one of the most prolific passers in the country in his first full season as a starter. Scott is averaging 336.4 passing yards per game, which leads the Pac-12 and ranks No. 4 nationally. Added with nearly 40 rushing yards per game, Scott is averaging 374.3 yards in total offense per game, which also leads the Pac-12 and ranks No. 4 nationally. Scott, who is averaging 11.8 yards per completion, has the third-most passing plays of 10-plus yards (99) of any quarterback in the country. He also has 34 passes of 20 or more yards, which ranks third-most among FBS quarterbacks. It's all amounts to Scott challenging some single season and career top-10 offensive charts. Here's a look at a few:
- Scott has three of Arizona's top-nine all-time single-game total offense performances (485 at Stanford, 461 vs. Toledo and 432 vs. Oregon State)
- Scott's 2,620 total offense yards in 2012 already rank No. 6 in single-season history. Another 350 yards will move him into the No. 4 spot.
- Scott is one passing touchdowns shy of tying Jim Krohn (1976-79) for the No. 10 spot on the UA career charts.
- Scott (2,355 yards) ranks No. 10 on the school's single-season passing yardage list. He is 166 yards away from moving up to No. 6.
- Scott's 200 pass completions rank No. 7 in single-season history.
- Scott is one passing TDs short of tying for No. 9 in single-season history (currently has 17).
- Scott's 64.3 percent completion percentage would rank No. 5 in single-season history if it were to hold up through season's end.
Carey The Load: Sophomore running back Ka'Deem Carey, a local product out of Canyon del Oro High School, has emerged as UA's featured back and one of the most underrated players in the Pac-12 through the first seven games of the season. Carey ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 120.3 rushing yards per game and checks in third in all-purpose yardage (154.3 ypg). The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder has 12 total scores (11 rushing, one receiving) to rank second among all Pac-12 players and rank tied for 12th-most nationally. Carey has topped 100 yards rushing five times this season alone, just a year after the Wildcats broke 100 yards as a team only five times in 12 contests in 2011.
More Ka'Deem: While Carey doesn't have the look of a power back, he's a tough, physical inside runner that picks up extra yards after contact. He has a 5.4 yards per carry average, boosted by 24 totes of 10 or more yards, tied for 11th-most nationally. Carey also is an explosive threat in the passing game, where he averages 10.1 yards per reception and ranks fourth on the club with 21 catches for 220 yards. Carey has 11 plays (rushing and passing) from scrimmage that have gone for 20-plus yards, which is tied for 18th-most nationally. His 1,064 yards from scrimmage are 8th-most individually among all FBS players. A season ago, Carey had 191 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns against the Trojans in the Coliseum.
Ka'Deem In Perspective: How good of a season is Ka'Deem Carey putting together? Well, a look at the Pac-12 stats won't do him justice. Carey currently ranks fourth in the conference with 842 rushing yards, narrowly trailing some well-known talents like UCLA's Jonathan Franklin (878), Oregon's Kenjon Barner (870) and Stanford's Stepfan Taylor (846). However, Carey's rushing total would lead all rushers in four other BCS conferences, including the ACC, Big 12, Big East and SEC. No player in those conferences has reached the 800-yard mark this season.
Austin's A-Game: Sophomore receiver Austin Hill is turning in a breakout campaign, highlighted by a career day at then-No. 18 Stanford on Oct. 6. Against the Cardinal, Hill set career highs for receptions (11) and yards (165), while matching his career-best with two touchdowns. UA's most versatile receiver that can play any of the four positions, Hill has become the Wildcats' go-to guy in key situations, evidenced by 30 of his 44 overall receptions (68.2%) resulting in first downs or touchdowns. The Corona, Calif., native is also leading the club in explosive plays, with 12 total receptions going for 20-plus yards, helping him to a team-best 15.4yards per catch. Those 12 20-plus yard receptions rank tied for eight-most nationally. Hill is averaging 96.9 receiving yards per game, which ranks No. 14 nationally and No. 4 in the Pac-12 Conference.
Hill Climbing: Just past the midway point of the season, sophomore receiver Austin Hillis in position to move into some notable school single-season top-10 charts (see page 11 of this release) in the coming games should he remain healthy and productive. Through seven games, Hill has 44 receptions for 678 yards and seven touchdowns. He is 19 receptions shy of matching Dennis Northcutt's 63 grabs in 1998, which holds down the No. 10 spot. From a yardage standpoint, Hill is 238 yards short of Jeremy McDaniel's 916 markers from that 1998 season, also the No. 10 mark. In the touchdowns category, Hill is just one shy of matching five former Cats who share the No. 10 position.
Dan's The Man: In the receiving jamboree, senior Dan Buckner has been overshadowed by youngster Austin Hill, but the upperclassman has turned in a strong campaign. Buckner is tied for the team lead in receptions (44) and checks in second in yards (599), averaging 13.6 yards per grab - also second-best on the squad. With a pair of 100-yard receiving games, Buckner joins Hill (three 100-yard games) as one of three Pac-12 duos with multiple 100-yard games. Buckner is tied for No. 5 nationally with 29 receptions of 10-plus yards. He has 10 over 20 yards.
Taimi Time: Senior Taimi Tutogi, a mainstay as a starting fullback/tight end throughout his career, added the role of a third down pass rush specialist to his list of responsibilities during fall camp. His continued development as a pass rusher came to fruition last week against Washington as he registered his first career sack and set career-highs with three tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. On the season, Tutogi has four tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery, to go with nine receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown on offense.
Welcome Back, J-Wash: Junior defensive end Justin Washington made his first start of the season last week against Washington, but it was nothing new for the Cypress, Texas, native. Washington was a nine-game starter as a redshirt freshman in 2010 when he earned freshman all-america honors from multiple publications. That year Washington finished with 46 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and a blocked kick. As a sophomore, he started six games but saw his production drop before injuries limited his time late in the year. He then got off to a sluggish start under the new coaching regime and later faced an indefinite suspension for a violation of team rules in August. He was reinstated to the club in September and has since worked his way up from scout team back to a starting role. Washington's first game action was at Stanford (Oct. 6) followed by the start against the Huskies last week, in which he collected four tackles and helped create some push up front that led to a season-high four sacks for the Wildcats. A 16-game starter throughout his career, Washington has 69 tackles, including 13.5 for loss, along with six sacks at Arizona.
Morrison Breaks One: Junior receiver Richard Morrison, named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week, has been the team's starting punt returner throughout the season, but he had just 10 returns for 63 yards entering last weekend's game against Washington. That changed in a blink of an eye when Morrison took a third-quarter punt to the house for a 63-yard touchdown to double his season tally for return yards and notch his first career special teams touchdown (has four receiving scores). Morrison received some key blocks along the way, including a screen from Mark Watley to allow him to cruise into the endzone for the final 15 yards. The Wildcats saw their punt return average go from No. 86 in the nation (6.3 ypr) to No. 33 (11.5 ypr). It was UA's first punt return for a touchdown since William "Bug" Wright covered 89 yards for a score against Washington State on Nov. 7, 2009, at Arizona Stadium.
A Rarity: Ka'Deem Carey had touched the ball (rush attempt, pass reception or kick return) 332 times in his Arizona career without losing a fumble. In fact, he had fumbled just once (it was recovered by UA) in those 332 touches. But on his first rush of the second half against Washington, Carey fumbled and the Huskies recovered. Fortunately for the Wildcats, Marquis Flowers forced a fumble on the very next Washington play, and Dan Pettinato recovered to give the Wildcats the ball back to set up a touchdown to give them a 38-17 lead early in the third quarter.
Long Drives: Arizona's offense, second in the Pac-12 with a 39.1 points per game scoring average, has produced 34 touchdowns. Of those, 19 have come on drives of 75 yards or longer, with eight covering 80 yards or more. A year ago, the Wildcats cranked out touchdown drives of 75-plus yards on 20 occasions over a 12-game schedule.
A Shot at the South: Arizona opened Pac-12 Conference action with four games against teams from the North Division, and inconveniently the Wildcats were lined up to play Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford over three consecutive weeks. In fact, because of that schedule, Arizona is the only Pac-12 school which will play all four conference teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25 this season. The fourth school is this week's opponent (USC, ranked No. 10), which begins five straight weeks against South Division rivals to close the regular season. So while UA finds itself in a hole with a 1-3 conference mark, it can quickly make up ground in the South Division with some victories against its rivals.
For Starters: After being shutout in the opening period of the first three conference games, the Wildcats enjoyed a 10-3 lead at the end of the first quarter last week against Washington. The pesky first quarter has been troublesome for UA, which is being outscored 38-30 by opponents this season. That could be something to keep an eye on this week as the Trojans have been a dominant first quarter team, outscoring foes 70-31. Second quarters of games have not been much better for USC opponents, as the Trojans own a 91-16 advantage in that period. Overall, it's a 161-47 scoring advantage in the first half of games this season for USC. After halftime is interesting: UA's highest-scoring single quarter has been the third quarter, when it has combined for 90 points against 59 opposing points. Conversely, USC has been outscored 43-21 in the third period.
600-Yard Games: Before the season started, Arizona football games had produced just a dozen 600-yard total offense games by the Wildcats or their opponents. After six weeks, there have already been six such occurrences this season. Arizona rolled up 689 yards against South Carolina State (Sept. 15) and 624 yards against Toledo (Sept. 1), the second and third-most single-game offensive outputs in program history. However, UA's opponents have also notched a pair 600-yard games. Oklahoma State racked up 636 yards in a loss on Sept. 8, while Oregon State totaled 613 yards in a Sept. 29 win. At Stanford earlier this month, both the Cats and Cardinal put up exactly 617 yards.
Big Play Bondurant: Perhaps one of the most underrated defenders in the Pac-12 is "Spur" safety Tra'Mayne Bondurant. The true sophomore has a nose for the football and has proven to be a pest for opposing teams. The Vallejo, Calif., native is fifth on the team with 43 total tackles, but he leads all players and ranks tied for sixth in the Pac-12 with 10.5 tackles for loss. The 10.5 stops behind the line surpass UA's season leader from a year ago, since-departed linebacker Derek Earls, who had 7.0 TFLs. Bondurant, who has four passes broken up and a forced fumble this season, intercepted his first pass of the season last week against Washington, returning it 43 yards to help set up Arizona's second touchdown.
A Budding Star: Converted safety Marquis Flowers continues to develop as a linebacker, a position he was switched to about a week before the start of the season. At 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, Flowers is Arizona's biggest linebacker and ranks as team's leader with 3.5 sacks. Flowers is also second on the squad with 7.5 tackles for loss and second with 48 total tackles. He has added two pass breakups and has forced one fumble. Flowers turned in a pair of big plays against the Huskies last week, collecting one of the team's four sacks and forcing a key turnover. After UA fumbled on its opening possession of the second half, the Huskies had the ball near midfield and were poised to cut the game to a one-score deficit. However, on the first play of the drive, Flowers pressured QB Keith Price and forced a fumble that was recovered by Dan Pettinato. The Cats outscored Washington 21-0 from that point on.
Man In The Middle: Junior Jake Fischer has been a stalwart middle linebacker in Arizona's new 3-3-5 defensive scheme implemented this season by defense coordinator Jeff Casteel. Fischer, who missed the 2011 season with an ACL injury, leads all Pac-12 players and ranks No. 31 nationally with 9.7 tackles per game (58 total). That's just a couple tackles shy of 10 per game for the slightly undersized 6-foot, 215-pounder. Don't tell that to Fischer, though, who has shown a nose for the ball early in the season. Fischer has 3.5 tackles for loss, one pass breakup, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. He was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week following a career-high 13-tackle season debut against Toledo on Sept. 1.
Step Right Up: When Jared Tevis went down with an ankle injury against Oregon State, the Wildcats turned to redshirt freshman Patrick Onwuasor(pronounced oh-WAH-soh). A former receiver who switched to safety during fall camp, Onwuasor (affectionately called "Peanut" by coaches and teammates) saw his first significant duty as a defender after emerging as a playmaker on special teams coverage units early in the season. Onwausor, who has a team-high six tackles on special teams, finished the Oregon State game with eight tackles. He followed that up with eight more tackles and a pass breakup at Stanford, and then five more tackles and a half tackle for loss against Washington in his second career start.
Tevis A Go? The Wildcats have been without one of their top defenders over the last two-and-a-half games since "Bandit" Jared Tevis went down with an ankle injury against Oregon State on Sept. 29. He was listed as questionable for last week's game against Washington, and his status remains to be determined for this week's game. His absence has been felt and his return, whenever it is, will be welcomed. A former walk-on who earned a scholarship after spring ball, Tevis ranked second in the Pac-12 with 42 tackles prior to his injury. He still ranks second on the squad with two interceptions and has added five pass breakups.
Missing Men: Arizona has been without two of its senior leaders along the offensive line over the last several weeks. Center Kyle Quinn and guard Trace Biskin, both graduate students, have 34 combined career starts, but each went down with an injury in late September and have not been available in October. Biskin has missed three starts, while Quinn has missed two. Others have filled in nicely in their absence, notably senior center Addison Bachman and senior guard/tackle Shane Zink, but depth remains an issue. When Quinn and Biskin return to the lineup, they'll not only bring necessary leadership to the O-line, but also give the Wildcats the needed depth for the stretch run of conference play.
Kickin' Kyle: Senior punter Kyle Dugandzic is putting together a strong season, even if he is averaging less than four punts per game. Dugandzic's overall average is a hefty 44.2 yards per boot, with five 50-plus yarders. He ranks No. 3 in the Pac-12 in punting average (44.2), while UA ranks No. 2 in the conference and No. 23 nationally in net punting (39.8). He was named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week (Oct. 1) in a losing cause after a sensational performance against Oregon State that included a career-long 70-yard boomer and four of five total punts landing inside the 20-yard line. In that respect, Dugandzic has placed 10 of his 25 punts inside the 20-yard line and has just one touchback.
Scoring In Perspective: Arizona's 274 points in six games are already challenging some season totals from the past decade. In fact, none of the five UA teams from 2002-06 scored as many points in a season as the Wildcats already have this year. Mike Stoops' first UA team scored 164 points over 11 games in 2004, one season after the Wildcats scored 181 in an 11-game 2003 campaign. To his credit, Stoops' teams steadily improved after the lowly '04 campaign and topped out at 476 points in a 13-game season in 2008. In fact, the 36.6 points per game that season was the second-highest average in program history. The 1954 gridiron squad holds the top mark, a 38.5 per game clip. Rich Rodriguez's first team is sitting at 39.1 with plenty of season still to come.
In A Rush: Arizona has rushed for 100 yards in six of its first seven games in 2012, just a season removed when it did so in just five games last fall. The Wildcats have 1,375 yards on the ground, an average of 196.4 yards per game (No. 3 in Pac-12). That's a significant improvement over last season's 94.5 per-game tally, which finished ranked second-to-last in the Pac-12 and No. 114 nationally. In fact, this year's rushing total (1,375) has surpassed last year's 12-game total of 1,134 yards. Running back Ka'Deem Carey leads the club with 842 yards, while quarterback Matt Scott ranks second with 265 yards. UA's leading rusher a year ago was senior Keola Antolin, who finished his final season at the school with 568 yards.
1,000-Yard Seasons: Ka'Deem Carey is nearing a 1,000-yard season running the ball (842 yards). He's also more than half way (155) toward a 250-carry season, last accomplished by UA school-record holder Trung Canidate, who toted the ball 253 times in 1999 for the 1,602 yards that stand atop UA's single-season rushing chart. Clarence Farmer had 209 carries in a 1,229 season in 2001, the most since. Nic Grigsby had 214 totes for 1,196 yards in UA's 2008 season, the last 1,000-yard rusher. From the yardage standpoint, Carey could become Rich Rodriguez's first 1,000-yard rusher from the running back position since Steve Slaton had 1,051 in 2007 at West Virginia. Rodriguez's only 1,000-yard rusher at Michigan was quarterback Dennard Robinson (2010).
Total Offense: Matt Scott has taken over the No. 11 spot on Arizona's career total offense chart (see page 11 for top-10). He has 4,4,553 yards on 652 plays and trails pro-style passer Jason Johnson (5,285, 1999-2002) for the No. 10 spot. Scott, averaging a remarkable 374.3 yards per game this year, has a whiff of the all-time UA top five in the category, which would take some doing. Passers Nick Foles (9,712 yards from 2009-11), Willie Tuitama (8,727 from 2005-08 and Tom Tunnicliffe (7,336 from 1980-83) head the chart, followed by dual QBs Keith Smith (7,049 from 1996-99), Alfred Jenkins (6,307 from 1983-86), Bruce Hill (6,054 from 1973-75) and Ortege Jenkins (5,577 from 1997-00). Drop-back thrower Dan White (5,312/1993-95) and is also in front of Scott. The only four-year starter on the list is Tunnicliffe, although Smith and O. Jenkins split some duties for three years after Smitty's freshman year, and Krohn put in heavy duty as a freshman. Tuitama started the latter half of his freshman year and the rest of the way in his career. Foles and White were transfers who started three seasons. Scott's basically a one-year starter - 2012 - putting up some real numbers.
Chain Gang: Arizona, which leads all FBS teams with 31.1 first downs per game, has more first downs (218) in seven games than 19 Wildcat teams had in full seasons since Arizona affiliated with the Pac-10/12 in 1978. Tough to think a squad could average 31 per game, but with that amount in the next game the Cats can crack the single season top-five with still four (plus a bowl?) games to go. Extrapolating all the way, it's clear the Cats have a shot at the school mark of 309 first downs by the Nick Foles-led Cats of 2011. Only that club and his junior-year Cats in 2008 had more (308) than 300.
Building for the Future: The Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, scheduled to open in August 2013, marks a dynamic shift in the Arizona football culture as it will become the centerpiece of the program on the north end of Arizona Stadium. Supported by private funds, including significant leadership gifts from David and Edith Lowell and from Jeff and Sharon Stevens, the $72.3 million project will provide the Wildcats with one of the premier football facilities in the nation. The facility will be a four-floor operations center with strength training, sports-medicine, coaches offices, locker rooms, meeting rooms, equipment and facility service areas. The structure will enclose the north end of the stadium and create a full bowl with nearly 4,000 premium spectator seats, including a donor lounge with outdoor seating. Additionally, stairways and elevator towers for the concourse will connect the structure to the existing east and west stadium sections. Restrooms, amenity areas and a cafeteria will also serve the campus community. Arizona Stadium has an official capacity of 51,811 for this season, but once work is completed on the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, the venue will near the some 57,000 seats it has held in recent years.
Up Next: Arizona hits the road for just the third time this season when it takes on UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 3. Kickoff time has been set for 7:30 p.m. (PT) and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Thereafter, the Wildcats return home for their annual Homecoming game against Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 10. Kickoff time and television information is expected to be announced next Monday.