Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats Gear Up For Physical Test At Utah
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: November 12, 2012
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Nov. 12, 2012

Arizona Weekly Release (PDF)

Nov. 17 Time: 8 p.m. (MST)
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah (Rice-Eccles Stadium -- 45,017)
Television Broadcast: ESPNU
TV Broadcasters: Joe Davis (play-by-play), Kelly Stouffer (analyst)
UA Radio: Arizona Radio Network, 1290 AM Tucson
UA Radio Broadcasters: Brian Jeffries (pxp), Lamont Lovett (color analyst), Dana Cooper (sideline analyst)
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 139, XM196 (both Utah 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: Nov. 5, 2011 (Utah 34, Arizona 21 at Tucson)

Some Game Themes: Bowl-eligible Arizona travels for the final time in the regular season seeking an elusive first road victory to cross another item of Rich Rodriguez's first-year to-do list ... The task will be a challenging one against a Utah squad needing to win out to put itself among the Pac-12 bowl contenders ... An on-paper matchup of high-powered offense (Arizona) against stout defense (Utah) ... At the same time, the Utes rank second-to-last in the conference total offense, while the Wildcats check in at the same position for total defense. So something has to give ... The big question for the visitor's will be whether fifth-year senior quarterback Matt Scott returns to the lineup after missing last week's game ... In Scott's absence, Ka'Deem Carey ran for a conference-record 366 yards and enters the game as the Pac-12's leading rusher ... The Utes counter with a stifling rush defense led by national honors candidate Star Lotulelei up front ... Utah also boasts an experienced and talented running back in John White, who had a pair of scores against the Cats in Tucson last November in one of his many career 100-yard rushing games ... Can the Cats' `D' slow that ground game and put pressure on quarterback Travis Wilson? The Utes rank 92nd nationally in sacks allowed, and Wilson has thrown more picks (six) than touchdowns (four) on the season. Or will Wilson and the Utes offense take advantage of UA's thin and youthful defense that has struggled this season, notably on the road? Keep an eye on special teams, where Utah's Reggie Dunn has game-changing potential in the kicking game with his three touchdowns on seven returns this year ... An 8 p.m. start in the Mountain Time Zone, the first of two-straight late-night matchups for the Cats, who close out their slate against rival Arizona State in Tucson next week.

The Coaches: Arizona - Rich Rodriguez(West Virginia '86), first year at Arizona (64) and 18th as a head coach overall (126-88-2). Rodriguez was introduced as the 30th head coach of the UA football program on Nov. 22, 2011. He carries Division I records of 6-4 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. Utah - Kyle Whittingham (BYU '84), eighth year at Utah (70-31) 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 2-0 against Arizona with his first career regular season victory coming in Salt Lake City in 2005 the school's first Pac-12 Conference road win coming a year ago in Tucson.

Last Week: Ka'Deem Carey carried the Wildcats to a 56-31 homecoming victory against Colorado in a rare 11:30 a.m. kickoff at Arizona Stadium. In the process, Carey gained 366 rushing yards on 25 carries to shatter the school record (288) and break the Pac-12 record (357). Nearly half his rushes (12) went for 10-plus yards and he had four of 30-plus yards, including bursts of 71, 64 and 46 yards. His 14.6 yards per carry average easily set a new school record for players with a minimum of 20 attempts. He scored five times on the ground, which set a new school record and tied the conference record. To boot, Carey had 34 receiving yards, giving him an even 400 all-purpose yards - another school record. But before all of that happened, the game was off to an inauspicious start for the Cats, who were without their starting quarterback Matt Scott. Junior B.J. Denker filled in and fumbled on his first play inside the five-yard line, setting up an easy Colorado touchdown on the next play. Arizona found itself down 10-7 going into the second quarter, when Denker and the offense settled into a rhythm. The southpaw completed 12-of-14 passes on the day for 136 yards, including a pair of touchdown tosses to Dan Buckner. Denker also added 44 rushing yards of his own to go with his 214.5 pass efficiency rating, the highest single-game mark for a UA quarterback this season. The Buffs found some offense, too, but it wasn't enough to match the Wildcats who moved the ball at will. CU's 437 yards of offense came on 76 snaps, while the Cats needed just 52 plays to rack up 574 yards - an astounding 11.0 yards per play. A consistent Buffs' ground game produced 224 yards led by Christian Powell's 137 markers and two scores on 32 totes. It helped produce a 41:48-18:12 advantage in time of possession, which was meaningless since the Cats didn't need the ball long to score and top 50 points for the fourth time at home this season. The win improved Arizona to 6-4, making them bowl eligible for the fourth time in five season, but the first since 2010.

2011 UA-Utah Recap: Arizona accumulated 457 yards but most of it was between the 20s as the Cats dropped a Pac-12 Homecoming tilt to Utah, 34-31. UA ventured twice into the red zone and came away empty-handed. The first came on the opening drive when it reached the Utes 15 yard-line and subsequently tried a fake field goal that didn't work. The second came in the fourth quarter when a 1st-and-goal at the Utah 1 turned into a nightmare when Conroy Black stepped in front of a Nick Foles pass and took it back to midfield with UA trailing 27-14. The Utes cashed in on that drive and put the game away. Way earlier, a Greg Bird block of a UA punt at Arizona's 25 yard-line set Utah up for a six-yard scoring drive; and a first of the two interceptions off Foles inside UA's half of the field set up a 30-yard scoring drive. Utah, to its credit, made the most of 332 yards in total offense by protecting the ball (no turnovers to UA's three) and taking advantage of four red-zone trips with four scores. Another partially blocked punt by Bird hurt UA's field position and in the end the Cats played a lot of the game on their end of the field. Foles threw for 326 yards and two scores by David Douglas, who had a career-high 10 catches for a career-high 156 yards. Three UA backs totaled 137 yards led by sophomore Daniel Jenkins' best-ever 57 markers (6 carries) and a score of 29 yards as time wound down. The Cats had 28 first downs, 6.1 yards per play, a season-low (tying) three penalties and converted eight of 14 third downs, but special teams' play and three turnovers spoiled any chances at momentum. The victory was Utah's first-ever Pac-12 road win.

Done In Year One: With six wins (6-4), Rich Rodriguez has his charges eligible for a bowl in his first season in the Old Pueblo. Rodriguez, who has led his teams to seven bowl games, is the first Arizona coach to lead a team to a bowl game in his first campaign. Mike Stoops (2004-2011), who coached in three bowl games, did not take the Wildcats to the postseason until his fifth season (2008). Dick Tomey (1987-2000), the winningest coach in program history, guided the school to seven bowls in his tenure, needed three years for his first bowl-bound season (1989).

Another Rodriguez Feat: Rich Rodriguez's six wins in his first season at Arizona are not only the most he has had in an initial season at a school, but also the most for a first-year Wildcat coach since Jim Young's squad went 8-3 and tied for the WAC title in 1973. Young's '73 club opened 8-1 and was poised for a bowl, but two straight losses and fewer bowl destinations in that era kept the Wildcats home for the holidays. The coaches since young have posted the following first-year records at Arizona: Tony Mason (5-7, 1977), Larry Smith (5-6, 1980), Dick Tomey (4-4-3, 1987), John Mackovic (5-6, 2001) and Mike Stoops (3-8, 2004).

Bowl-Eligible: While not yet guaranteed a bowl berth, Arizona (6-4) is bowl-eligible for the fourth time in five seasons after missing out a year ago. It's an impressive accomplishment for a program that went nine full seasons between bowl appearances (1998 Holiday Bowl to 2008 Las Vegas Bowl). The Wildcats also appeared in the 2009 Holiday Bowl and 2010 Alamo Bowl under former head coach Mike Stoops. This year, the Pac-12 has tie-ins with eight total bowls. Currently, seven schools are bowl eligible, with Arizona State (5-4) and Utah (4-6) still vying for eligibility. The Pac-12 bowl partners include, in order of selection after the Rose Bowl present by Vizio in Pasadena (Jan. 1): the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio (Dec. 29), Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego (Dec. 27), Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso (Dec. 31), the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (Dec. 22), the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco (Dec. 29), and the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque (Dec. 15).

Strength of Schedule: Jeff Sagarin ranks Arizona's schedules as the 10th-toughest in the nation to date, with six of the Wildcats 10 games to date being against teams in his top 30 (2-4 record). Looking at the BCS Stadnings this week, seven of UA's opponents are currently ranked with the Wildcats going 3-4 against those teams. Eight of UA's nine FBS opponents have earned an AP Top-25 ranking at some point this season. The combined record of UA's eight FBS opponents this season is 61-27.

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 nine games of the season. On the Maxwell Award Watch List earlier this year, Carey ranks leads the Pac-12 with 138.1 rushing yards per game and checks in second in all-purpose yardage (167.8 ypg). The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder has 19 total scores (18 rushing, one receiving) to rank second among all Pac-12 players and rank tied for sixth-most nationally in scoring. Carey has topped 100 yards rushing seven times this season alone, just a year after the Wildcats broke 100 yards as a team only five times in 12 contests in 2011. Five of his 100-yard games have come against Pac-12 schools. He boasts a 5.73 yards per carry average in career (315-1806, 24 TD), the 11th-best career average for active FBS players with minimum 300 rush attempts.

Carey's Record Day: Ka'Deem Carey rushed 25 times for 366 yards and five touchdowns last Saturday against Colorado, setting or matching several school and conference records. Here's a summary:

- Carey's 366 rushing yards were the ninth-most ever in an FBS (formerly Division I) game, including the most in 2012. The figure also broke Washington State's Rueben Mayes' conference record of 357 yards gained at Oregon on Oct. 27, 1984. The previous Arizona school record was held by Trung Canidate, who rushed for 288 yards against Arizona State on Nov. 27, 1998, at Arizona Stadium.

- Carey's five touchdown runs set a new Arizona record for single-game rushing scores and tied the conference record held by multiple players, including Oregon's Kenjon Barner who had five rushing scores against USC on Nov. 3. The five scores matched Art Luppino's record for single-game total touchdowns (four by rushing) set on Sept. 18, 1954, against New Mexico State. With a pair of extra points in that 1954 game, Luppino set the school record for single-game points scored (32). Carey's 30 last Saturday now rank second all-time at the school.

- Carey shattered the single-game school record for yards per carry (14.6) for a palyer with 20 or more rushing attempts in a game. The previous mark was established by Don Beasley, who ran 21 times for 193 yards (9.2 ypc) against Arizona State on Nov. 28, 1953.

- Carey added 34 receiving yards to finish with an even 400 all-purpose yards in the game - another school record. The previous mark was held by Art Luppino, who gained 359 against New Mexico State on Sept. 18, 1954.

Ka'Deem Carey in the FBS National Rankings:

- Ranks tied for No. 2 with 1,381 rushing yards (leads Pac-12).
- Ranks tied for No. 5 with 18 rushing touchdowns and tied for No. 4 with 19 total touchdowns.
- Ranks No. 2 with 1,662 total yards from scrimmage (leads Pac-12).
- Ranks No. 9 with 1,678 all-purpose yards (second in Pac-12).
- Ranks No. 5 with 39 rushing plays of 10-plus yards.
- Ranks No. 4 with 14 rushing plays of 20-plus yards.
- Ranks tied for No. 7 with 48 plays from scrimmage of 10-plus yards.
- Ranks tied for No. 6 with 18 plays from scrimmage of 20-plus yards.

Carey No. 2: Ka'Deem Carey's 1,381 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns rank No. 2 in the UA single-season charts. Carey trails Trung Canidate's 1,602 yards in 1999 and Art Luppino's 21 touchdowns in 1954 for the top spot in each category. Carey currently ranks No. 8 in single-season school history for all-purpose yards (1,678) and No. 4 for single-season points scored (114).

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's 2,848 passing yards lead all Pac-12 passers and rank No. 8 in the nation. Added with more than 40 rushing yards per game, Scott is averaging 357.4 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 12th-most passing plays of 10-plus yards (113) of any quarterback in the country. He also has 40 passes of 20 or more yards, which ranks tied for 14th-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 four of Arizona's top-10 all-time single-game total offense performances (485 at Stanford, 469 vs. USC, 461 vs. Toledo, and 432 vs. Oregon State)
- 3,217 total offense yards in 2012 already rank No. 3 in single-season history.
- Scott has moved into a tie for fourth-place in single-season history with 20 passing touchdowns. Four more will push him into the No. 2 spot. He needs eight more to tie the record.
- Scott (2,848 yards) ranks No. 6 on the school's single-season passing yardage list. He is 240 yards away from moving up to No. 5.
- Scott's 242 pass completions rank No. 6 in single-season history.
- Scott's 26 career passing touchdowns rank No. 10 in program history.
- Scott's 62.7 percent completion percentage would rank No. 6 in single-season history if it were to hold up through season's end.

Dynamic Duo: Running back Ka'Deem Carey (1,381 rushing yards) and receiver Austin Hill (1,023 receiving yards) are just the second pair of Wildcats to post 1,000-yard rushing and receiving seasons in the same year. The only duo to previously do so was the school's all-time leading rusher, Trung Canidate (1,603 yards in 1999) and the school's No. 2 all-time receiver, Dennis Northcutt (1,422 yards in 1999), in the 1999 season. Interestingly, both Canidate and Northcutt set and still hold the single-season school records for rushing/receiving yards in those respective campaigns. This year's dynamic duo could soon become a 3,000-1,000-1,000 trio if quarterback Matt Scott collects 152 more passing yards to reach the 3,000-yard benchmark. The 1999 squad passed for over 3,000 yards as a team, but split production between Keith Smith (1,903 yards) and Ortege Jenkins (1,082).

Total Offense: Arizona has 5,260 yards of total offense to date, already the fifth-most all-time at the school. The school's single-season record (5,712 in 2010) will almost certainly be broken in Rich Rodriguez's first season in Tucson. In fact, UA's 526 yards per game would put the Wildcats into the top spot this week if they reached their season average. However, the Cats are averaging just over 400 yards per game in their three road contests of the season, so we won't put the cart before the horse in that respect - it's just another record to keep an eye on in a season full of record-breaking numbers.

Top-10 Day: While Ka'Deem Carey deserves much of the credit for a 438-yard rushing day, so too do linemen Mickey Maucus (LT), Cayman Bundage (LG), Kyle Quinn (C), Shane Zink (RG) and Fabbians Ebbele (RT) who started along the offensive line. Guard Trace Biskin rotated in all game long at the guard spots and tight ends Drew Robinson and Michael Cooper also played a big role in the point-of-attack blocking to pave the way for Carey's conference record 366 rushing yards. B.J. Denker (44 yards), Garic Wharton (19 yards), Jared Baker (five yards) and Daniel Jenkins (four yards) each chipped in rushing yards. The team's 438 rushing yards tie for the eighth-most all-time in a single game (438 vs. UTEP in 1973). The total was the most in game for the Wildcats since rolling up 460 against at Oregon State on Nov. 13, 1999.

Biletnikoff Semifinalist: Sophomore receiver Austin Hill is one of ten semifinalists for the 2012 Biletnikoff Award, presented to the nation's top receiver. Hill has turned in a stellar season and is one of 11 receivers in the FBS with more than 1,000 receiving yards to date. His biggest game came against No. 10 USC on Oct. 27 in which he racked up a career-best 259 receiving yards, the second-highest total in UA single-game history. On 10 grabs in that game, he set a UA single-game mark for yards per reception (25.9) and currently boasts a season average of 16.5 yards per catch. In the USC game alone, Hill had five receptions of 20-plus yards, including a career-long 60-yarder to continue a trend of making big plays all season long. In fact, Hill ranks tied for No. 4 in the nation in receptions of 20-plus yards (18) and third for 30-plus yards (11). He averages 102.3 yards per game, good enough for the No. 3 spot in the Pac-12 and No. 11 nationally.

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 second on the team in several receiving categories, including receptions (57), yards (716) and touchdowns (5). He averages 12.6 yards per grab - also second-best on the squad. With a pair of 100-yard receiving games, Buckner joins Hill (four 100-yard games) as one of three Pac-12 duos with multiple 100-yard games. Buckner is tied for No. 23 nationally with 34 receptions of 10-plus yards. He has 11 over 20 yards. His two touchdowns scores against Colorado were a new individual single-game best.

Denker in the Books: Junior quarterback B.J. Denker did everything he had to do in his first career start against Colorado last Saturday, and his solid all-around effort will put him in the Arizona records book even if running back Ka'Deem Carey did most of the work. Combining Carey's 366 rushing yards with Denker's 44 yards, the duo totaled 410 rushing yards between them. That combined rushing total puts them over the 393 yards tallied between Kenny Cardella (200) and Don Beasley (193) against Arizona State on Nov. 28, 1954. That total had stood as the school record for most combined rushing yards gained by two Arizona players in the same game.

Mr. Efficiency: Backup quarterback B.J. Denker completed 12-of-14 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in his first start at Arizona. With no interceptions, he produced a 214.46 pass efficiency rating - the highest for a UA quarterback this season (previous high was Matt Scott's 212.29 vs. Washington). Denker spread the ball evenly to the Wildcats' top three receiving targets: Austin Hill (3-29), Dan Buckner (3-38) and David Richards (3-39). Denker's two touchdown tosses (21 and nine yards, respectively), went to Buckner who set a career-high with a pair of scores in the game. Running back Ka'Deem Carey caught a pair of passes for 34 yards as part of his 400-yard all-purpose day.

Boomin' Bonano: John Bonano quietly put himself into the Arizona record books last Saturday, converting his 69th-consecutive point after touchdown try after the Wildcats' final score against Colorado. The previous school record of 68-straight made PATs was held by Max Zendejas (1982-84) and Jason Bondzio (2007-08). In 2012, Bonano is 45-for-45 on his PAT tries after connecting on all 24 attempts a season ago when he took over the job at mid-season. Prior to Bonano assuming the role last October, the Wildcats had missed five PATs (13-for-18) in the first half of the 2011 season. In addition to his PAT duties this year, Bonano is 10-for-16 on field goal tries with a long of 46. He has made six of his last seven field goal attempts. The senior, who boasts a 3.92 GPA as a physiology major, has accounted for 75 points scored, which is 20 shy of breaking into UA's single-season top-10.

Seven Times Seven: After turning the ball over on its first offensive play, Arizona responded by scoring touchdowns on its next seven possessions. On those seven drives, the Wildcats ran 40 plays and gained 475 yards in just over 11 minutes of possession. The average time of possession on the second scoring drives was about 1:36, with two possessions lasting just 24 and 28 seconds respectively. Recent similar consecutive touchdown drive spurts include six-straight touchdown drives to open the game against UCLA in 2011 and six-straight to begin the 2008 season-opener against Idaho. In 2009 against Washington State, the Wildcats scored on seven-consecutive possessions, but two were field goals.

Conversion Game: Want to have success converting third downs? Don't get to third down. Last Saturday against Colorado, the Wildcats faced just six third down conversion plays, converting three of those. Otherwise, Arizona's 21 first downs typically came on first and second down conversions (17 of the 21, in fact). The Wildcats picked up eight first downs and scored five touchdowns on first down plays. They collected nine first downs on second down plays. Ka'Deem Carey and the rushing attack averaged 12.4 yards per carry on first down plays, while B.J. Denker was a perfect 7-for-7 passing on second downs to move the chains four times. Both of Denker's touchdown throws came on second down.

Did You Know? Ka'Deem Carey's 366 rushing yards last week against Colorado are more net yards than Washington State (329) has all season ... Carey's 1,381 rushing yards are more than the season total of 40 FBS schools to date ... Carey has rushed for 1,037 yards and has five 100-yard games in seven Pac-12 games this season (148.5 ypg) ... Arizona had forced a turnover in all but one game this season (loss at UCLA) and has turned it over at least once in all but one game (win vs. Oklahoma State) ... Arizona has trailed at some point in every game this season except one (South Carolina State) ... The Wildcats have "lost" the time of possession statistic in seven straight games and in eight of the 10 contests this season ... Opponents have scored the first points of a game in seven of the last nine games against the Wildcats.

Rodriguez's 1,000-Yard Rushers: Ka'Deem Carey became the first running back to post a 1,000-yard season under head coach Rich Rodriguez since Steve Slaton did so at West Virginia in 2007. At Michigan, only dual-threat quarterback Dennard Robinson (2010) mounted a 1,000-yard season during Rodriguez's three seasons. At West Virginia, Slaton had three-straight 1,000-yard campaigns, including in 2007, 2006 and 2005. His quarterback during those years, Pat White, also turned in 1,000-yard seasons in 2006 and 2007. Prior to the Slaton-White years, running backs Avon Cobourne (2001 and 2002) and Quincy Wilson (2003) had 1,000-yard seasons under Rodriguez. Added up, and with Carey included, that's 10 (ten) 1,000-yard rushers over 11 seasons as an FBS head coach for Rodriguez.

Red Zone Turnaround: The Wildcats hope to continue their run of success in the red zone. After an 0-for-5 effort in the red zone in a loss at Oregon on Sept. 22, Arizona has scored on 31 of its last 33 (94 percent) forays into the scoring zone, including a perfect 7-for-7 (all touchdowns) last week against Colorado. Of those, 26 (79 percent) have resulted in touchdowns. Both numbers are improvements over the team's season average of 78 percent overall and 63 percent touchdowns in the red zone.

Young Defense: 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 where the Cats continue to learn Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 scheme. Of the 110 defensive starts to date, more than half (62 total or 56.4 percent) have been turned in by freshmen or sophomores. The Wildcats have 43 starts from its junior class, and only five starts (each by Dominique Austin) by seniors, meaning over 95 percent of the defensive starters will return next season. Austin and fellow defensive linemen Chris Merrill and Willie Mobley are the only seniors that have appeared on the defensive two-deep this season. Last week true freshmen C.J. Dozier (LB) and Vince Miles(FS) made their first career starts.

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 third on the team with 63 total tackles, but he leads all players and ranks 11th in the Pac-12 with 11.5 tackles for loss. The 11.5 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 five passes broken up, a forced fumble and a pair of interceptions, including one against Colorado last week.

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 5.5 sacks. Flowers is also second on the squad with 11.0 tackles for loss and second with 75 total tackles. He has added two interceptions, three pass breakups and has forced two fumbles. He has accounted for four takeaways in the last four games (forced fumble vs. Washington and two INTs and forced fumble vs. USC). Flowers was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week last week for his effort against USC on Oct. 27.

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, ranks No. 3 among Pac-12 players and No. 44 nationally with 9.0 tackles per game (90 total). That's just a handful of 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 this season. Fischer has 5.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, 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.

Gilbert Becoming a Force: True sophomore defensive lineman Reggie Gilbert is coming into his own as a pass-rusher for the Wildcats. The Laveen, Ariz., native has started six games this season and is second on the team with 3.5 sacks. Gilbert has totaled 5.5 tackles for loss, which ranks tied for third on the club, to go with his 14 total tackles. He also has one fumble recovery this season.

Sack Attack: Arizona has just 15 sacks on the season, but it's an area the young Wildcat defense is beginning to show improvement. Consider the club had only three sacks after four games to start the season. Now the Wildcats have registered a sack in six-consecutive games and have 12 total over those half-dozen contests. They would love to get a few more this week against Utah, a squad giving up 2.5 per game.

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 43.5 yards per boot, with six 50-plus yarders. He has helped UA rank No. 3 in the conference and No. 22 nationally in net punting (39.7). 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. He again placed four punts inside the 20-yardline against USC three weeks ago. In that respect, Dugandzic has placed 17 of his 40 punts inside the 20-yard line and has just one touchback.

1,000-Yard Career: Quarterback Matt Scottsits at 1,001 career rushing yards, pushing him past a career benchmark not often achieved at the position (should be noted a QB risks losing yardage due to sacks in future games). UA's all-time leader for quarterback rushing is Ronnie Veal, who collected 1,419 yards and 27 touchdowns from 1987-90. Scott recently moved past Jim Krohn's 987 yards from 1976-79.

Up Next: Arizona closes its regular season slate with the annual battle for the Territorial Cup - the nation's oldest recognized rivalry trophy game - against Arizona State on Friday, Nov. 23. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN and will kick off at 8 p.m. MST.

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