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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 09/29/2008
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Sept. 29, 2008

Complete Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader


VIDEO: Arizona Football - Come On Over!

Game 4 - Arizona vs. Washington

Date: Saturday, Oct. 4

Location: Arizona Stadium

Kickoff: 4:37 p.m.

Television: Versus

Radio: 1290 AM, 107.5 FM, 990 AM (Spanish)

 

UW/UA Series Fast Facts

First Meeting: 1978 (Washington 31 - Arizona 21 in Seattle)

Last Meeting: 2007 (Arizona 48 - Washington 41 in Seattle)

Series: UW leads 7-16-1

 

UW/UA Series Notes: The 25th all-time meeting between the two schools ... Washington owns a 16-7-1 edge in the 24 games played thus far ... The visiting team has won each of the last four games (2004-2007) ... The Huskies will be making their third trip to Tucson in the last four seasons, having claimed victories in 2005 (38-14) and 2006 (21-10) ... Arizona seeks its first victory over the Huskies since 2003 when it picked up a 27-22 win in November - its second win in a 2-10 season ... Four of Arizona's seven wins over Washington have been in Arizona Stadium, but the Huskies still hold a 6-4-1 lead over UA when playing in Tucson ... UA looks to defeat Washington in consecutive tries for the third time in school history (1988-89 and 2003-04) ... Arizona's largest margin of victory against Huskies of 13 points came in 1992 when the Wildcats upset the No. 1-ranked Huskies 16-3 on homecoming weekend ... Washington's largest margin of victory over Arizona came in 1991 when the No. 3 Huskies whitewashed the Cats 54-0 in Seattle ... Traditionally a highly contested game, eight of the last 10 games have been decided by 10 points or less, with seven of the 10 being decided by a touchdown or less.

 

UA/UW 2007 Flashback: 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 (combined) 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).

 

Some Game Themes: The Wildcats return home for the first time in four weeks... UA battles to stay in step with the Pac-10 leaders... The Wildcats face the team they played in the game a year ago which launched the program's current 6-2 run...  (If you want to suppose, imagine the difference if those two win-able games had been won) ...  A match of two quarterbacks with numbers-producing capabilities, albeit in differing fashion... Competing explosive receivers in UA's Mike Thomas (7.25 rpg) and UW's D'Andre Goodwin... Arizona works to change the dynamic of its middle-seasons and October, an historically tough month in the Mike Stoops era when the Cats have played to a 3-14 record... The Huskies take stock of what their brutal schedule to open the year helped them learn... A year ago the two teams combined for 1,107 yards. This time Arizona checks in with the nation's sixth-rated defense... Don't expect any post-touchdown histrionics... Family Weekend on the UA campus, a time for big crowds with moms and dads and siblings on hand...

 

The Last Time Out: Arizona traveled to UCLA Sept. 20 and used a total team effort and some individually sparkling performances to down the Bruins, 31-10. Arizona took a 3-0 lead and trailed 7-3 after the first quarter, then began dominating the line of scrimmages and some open space to take a 17-10 halftime lead. UA came out and made it decisive with two fourth-quarter touchdowns while its defense held the Bruins to 90 yards in total offense after the break. Receiver/returner Mike Thomas was clearly the dominating big-play man on the field, compiling a total of 257 yards in receiving (4-115), punt returns (6-107) and some KOR (1-18) and rushing (2-17) touches. That's about 20 yards a pop and made a big difference. Sophomore tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after a three-game hiatus (illness) and made it clear he's a huge threat, snaring a 22-yard touchdown catch in the corner and a 4-yard slant for a score, both while sealing off the defender. The Cats came up with four sacks including two by linebacker Ronnie Palmer, and one apiece from end Brooks Reed and nickel back Corey Hall. The Bruins were persistent in rushing for 115 yards, but had little choice as UA's secondary clamped down to hold UCLA to 81 passing yards. Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama made a bunch of correct choices in hitting 16 of 29 passes for 222 yards and the two scores to Gronkowski. Punter Keenyn Crier (6-47.0) and kicker Jason Bondzio (41-yard field goal) helped keep special teams special. The game, played before a national FSN audience, was reasonably error free with only two turnovers and a combined 10 penalties for 56 yards. UA's turnover gave the Bruins their lone touchdown, with Grigby's fumble at the UA 1 yard-line recovered by Korey Bosworth for a score and the aforementioned early 7-3 lead. But UA's defense allowed only a field goal drive of 64 yards and held the Bruins to a total of 196 yards in offense, the Cats' second sub-200 effort of the year. UA saw one highlight halted -- its streak of red-zone success. Arizona was 3-for-5 in that category. UA went for it on 4th-and-1 from the UCLA 17 yard-line and did not make it in the second quarter and finished the game with a bad snap from the UCLA 8 yard-line to stop another RZ chance.

 

Quick Strikes: Arizona continues to rate highly in terms of its ability to get down the field and put up points. It's not hurry-up offense, it's just a knack for some big plays. The Cats had three such drives in their last game at UCLA -- of four plays and 1:49, four plays at 1:20 and five plays and 1:43. A fourth field-goal drive also took only 1:57 off the clock. In all, UA used eight minutes and 44 seconds to put up those 24 points. The final drive of the game was a more methodical eight-play drive covering 75 yards and 3:32.

 

Most Touchdown Drives Under Two Minutes

1. Oregon - 16

2. Tulsa - 15

3. Missouri - 14

4. Rice - 12

5. Arizona - 11

    Oklahoma St. - 11

    California - 11

 

In a Rush For TD's: No, this is not another note on Arizona's track recording of quick scoring drives; rather, this note about the 11 rushing touchdowns that the Cats have scored this season. A year ago, the Wildcats rushed for seven (7) touchdowns on the entire season, a figure that sophomore Nic Grigsby has reached by himself through four games in 2008. The 11 ground scores also matches or surpasses the total rushing touchdowns scored by each of the last four Arizona squads (2004-2007). Of the 11 rushing scores in 2008, eight (8) of them have come in goal-to-gain situations.

 

Benchmark For Success: Looking for a key stat that separates wins from losses for the Wildcats? Well look no further than the rushing yards column in each game's box score. Yes, the pass-happy Wildcats, who broke nearly every school passing record a year ago, often are victorious in games in which they rush for 100 yards or more. Under Head Coach Mike Stoops, Arizona is 14-8 when it rushes for 100 yards or more. But looking closer, the Wildcats have won 10 of their last 11 games (21-20 loss to Stanford in '07) when they reach the century mark, a streak that includes a 6-1 record in offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes' spread offense installed at the beginning of the 2007 season.  On the other hand, Arizona is 6-22 under Stoops when it fails to reach 100 yards on the ground, but two of those victories did come last season when UA used its passing attack to post some points. Bottom line numbers: UA has rushed for an average of 154 yards per game in its 20 wins since 2004 and has rushed for an average of 50 yards per game in its 30 losses during the time period.

 

There's No Place Like Home: After two straight road games and a bye week, the Wildcats will return to Arizona Stadium this week as they look to improve on a few streaks that date back to 2007. Arizona's current four-game home winning streak is tied with USC as the longest in the Conference and is the longest such streak for the Wildcats since they won the final four home games of the 1998 season. Since the start of 2007, UA has won six of its last eight games at Arizona Stadium, including three of four Pac-10 contests.

 

Progress in the Pac: In 2006, Head Coach Mike Stoops led Arizona on a 3-1 streak to end the season and the Wildcats finished with four Pac-10 wins for the first time since 1998. A year ago, another late 3-1 run to close the year gave the Wildcats four wins against conference foes, giving UA back-to-back seasons of four or more Conference victories for the first time since the 1997-98 seasons. In the last 14 Conference games, Stoops and the Wildcats have posted an 8-6 record. Overall, Arizona is 11-9 in its last 20 games.

 

Total-D Details: Arizona, giving up a paltry 221.75 yards per game, ranks No. 2 in the nation in total defense, trailing only South Carolina (221.4).  No question the competition heats up with only Pac-10 offenses left, but it's a heck of a start. Arizona held two teams (Idaho and UCLA) to sub-200 yard total offense efforts to help build that figure. Historically, eight UA teams in the 1930s and 1940s held opponents to the fewest yards per game, and the 1993 Wildcats (236.9) and 1968 Cats (240.6) rounded out the top 10. In the modern era, six Wildcat teams might be considered in a group of top defenses -- the 1983, 1984 and 1985 teams under Larry Smith, and the 1992, 1993 and 1994 clubs under Dick Tomey -- the 'Desert Swarm.'  The late Smith's teams had no nicknames, just a bunch of free-wheeling nasty defenders who held opponents to 17, 17 and 12 points per game. Some of the names: Ricky and Lamont Hunley, Byron Evans, Randy Robbins, Allan Durden, John Barthalt, John Kaiser, Steve Boadway, Danny Lockett, Chuck Cecil and Dana Wells, among others. Tomey's units of those years included Rob Waldrop, Tedy Bruschi, Sean Harris, Brant Boyer, Jim Hoffman, Chuck Osborne, Joe Salave'a, Charlie Camp, Brandon Sanders and Tony Bouie, among others. They gave up 9, 15 and 15 points per game and the '93 Swarm set the Pac-10 record in allowing only 30 yards rushing per contest. It's clear that in this era, any work that results in a sub-280 effort should be good enough to rate in the nation's top 25 but moreover help give the team a good chance to win games. The 2008 Cats are still building their reputation and have eight games to go, but things are looking good.

 

That's Not All: Through four games, Arizona's defense ranks in the top-5 nationally in several categories. The Wildcat defense leads all programs in passing defense, allowing only 103.25 yards per game. That includes a pass efficiency defense rating of 85.34, which ranks second in the country behind Boston College (81.12). The Wildcats also rank among the nation's top teams in scoring defense (No. 21) and tackles for loss (No. 29).

 

Special in All Phases: Arizona's three units - offense, defense and special teams - all rank amongst the nation's best statistically after four games. The Wildcat offense is currently No. 12 in scoring offense (42.50), while the defense is No. 2 in total defense (221.75 yards per game). But UA's special teams also rank highly as the Wildcats are No. 14 in the nation in punt returns (18.39 yards) and No. 30 in net punting (37.42).

 

Leading the Pac: UA and its players lead the league in a few individual categories. Here are some... Arizona leads the Pac-10 in pass efficiency defense (85.34), total defense (221.75), new punting (37.42), punt returns (18.39) and pass defense (103.25) ... Individually, Mike Thomas leads the conference in receptions per game (7.25) and receiving yards per game (102) ... Keola Antolin leads all Pac-10 players with an average of 32.25 yards per kick return and Nic Grigsby leads all players in scoring with an average of 10.5 points per game ... UA's 70 points against Idaho was a league high, as were the 10 touchdowns in that game. Willie Tuitama's 77 percent completion rate against Toledo is the league best... Keenyn Crier's 69-yard punt at New Mexico is the longest by a Pac-10 punter... UA's defensive job against Idaho (112 yard in total offense) is the best effort thus far...  

 

Will Mike Do It Again? Mike Thomas has surpassed 100-yards receiving in each of his last three games, a feat last accomplished by Bobby Wade in 2002. Thomas will see if he can inch closer to the school record of five-consecutive games with 100-yards set by Keith Hartwig in 1976 and Bobby Wade in 2002-03.

 

TD Factory: Sophomore tight end Rob Gronkowski has 31 career receptions and eight of them (26 percent) have gone for scores. Nice. The distance doesn't appear to be limited, either. He has two career TD grabs in excess of 50 yards (57 and 51), three of 20 or more (27, 26 and 22) and three from 18, 4 and 1 yards. That's 26 yards per touchdown catch and 206 yards total on the scoring grabs alone. He remains among UA's leaders in yards per catch with 557 receiving yards for a 17.9 career mark.

 

Deflection: Arizona more than doubled its season output with 10 passes broken up at UCLA. The club now has 18, the same amount UA's eventual Jim Thorpe Award winner Antoine Cason and mates had a year ago after four games. At UCLA, nickel back and Pac-10 Defensive POW Corey Hall had a pair, as did cornerbacks Devin Ross and Marquis Hundley, plus linebacker Adrian McCovy and DE Brooks Reed. The effort helped hold UCLA to 15 pass completions in 31 attempts for a modest 5.4 yards per catch. Hundley is the team leader with four PBUs, taking over at Cason's boundary corner spot.

 

Nic Ticking: Sophomore running back Nic Grigsby has put himself in position for a 1,000-yard rushing season, last accomplished at UA by Clarence Farmer (209-1,229) in a first-team All-Pac-10 year in 2001. Nic has a third of a mile to go, so it won't be easy, but his 5.6 yards per tote and about 20 carries per game give him a decent shot. A year ago Grigsby totaled 704 yards in seven starts (10 games), so it's do-able... Nic's seven rushing touchdowns are better still. Farmer had 10 in 2001, the most recent runner in two digits. Before that it was Trung Canidate with 11 rushing TDs in 1999. Before him it was Kelvin Eafon with 16 (and Candidate with 10) in 1998. The Arizona record is 21 by Art Luppino in 1954.

 

Windshield Splatter: True freshman receiver William 'Bug' Wright filled in for Mike Thomas on special teams toward the end of the UCLA game and ripped off a 55-yard punt return deep into UCLA territory. That put UA's small-guy playmaking over the 400-yard mark for the second time this year. Thomas (5-foot-8), kick returner Keola Antolin (5-foot-8) and RB Nic Grigsby (5-foot-10) totaled 414 yards against Toledo. Bug's scamper put the foursome at exactly 414 all-purpose yards again -- along with Mike's 257 yards (receiving, punt return, rushing, KOR), Grigsby's 71 (rushing, receiving) and Keola's 31 (KOR). The short fuses have been putting some spark into UA special teams and scrimmage action.

 

Spread it Around: Tight end Rob Gronkowski's first appearance of the year and three catches at UCLA gave Arizona a 13th player with a reception this year. With receiver Terrell Reese expected to return to action after a suspension sometime soon, another guy could join the list. Some prolific passing games make the 13 figure rate just outside the national Top 10. Troy leads the unofficial derby with 17 guys who have caught a pass, followed by Oklahoma with 16, Louisiana with 15, and seven clubs with 14 including ASU.  Seven different UA pass catchers have TDs led by Thomas (3) and Delashaun Dean and Gronkowski with two each. Arizona QB Willie Tuitama threw to 14 guys last year.

 

PATs:  Kicker Jason Bondzio's working toward a second consecutive 100-point season, with 29 through four games. He's only booted three field goals but chimed in with 20 PAT kicks. In 2007 he became the first UA kicker to score 100 points and at the current pace seems to have a decent chance at a repeat. His career accuracy from the field -- 24 of 30 FGs -- gives him a chance at points out to 50 yards and beyond. Arizona's propensity for touchdowns this year appears to have cut into his chances for three-pointers.

 

Raising His Standards: Mike Thomas is known as not only one of UA's most steady players, but one of the players who can make the routine and spectacular play.  It's that combination of play-making that leads to consistency, and over the course of his last eight games Thomas has been nothing short of extraordinary. Here's a look at his numbers since last year's 48-41 victory at Washington in which he racked up 165 receiving yards on 10 catches and three touchdowns to start the streak:

 

            Rec.     Yds       Yds Per Game              All-Purpose Yds           TD's

            59         899       112.4                            1,640                            8

 

PATs:  Kicker Jason Bondzio's working toward a second consecutive 100-point season, with 29 through four games. He's only booted three field goals but chimed in with 20 PAT kicks. In 2007 he became the first UA kicker to score 100 points and at the current pace seems to have a decent chance at a repeat. His career accuracy from the field -- 24 of 30 FGs -- gives him a chance at points out to 50 yards and beyond. Arizona's propensity for touchdowns this year appears to have cut into his chances for three-pointers.

 

Raising His Standards: Mike Thomas is known as not only one of UA's most steady players, but one of the players who can make the routine and spectacular play.  It's that combination of play-making that leads to consistency, and over the course of his last eight games Thomas has been nothing short of extraordinary. Here's a look at his numbers since last year's 48-41 victory at Washington in which he racked up 165 receiving yards on 10 catches and three touchdowns to start the streak:

 

            Rec.     Yds       Yds Per Game              All-Purpose Yds           TD's

            59         899       112.4                            1,640                            8

 

Sterling Start: Linebacker Sterling Lewis has not wasted any time emerging as one of UA's top defensive players. Lewis has started each of UA's last two games after filling in for Xavier Kelley who was held out of the New Mexico game with an ankle injury. Through four games, Lewis leads the Cats with 31 tackles (7.75 per game).

 

Home Cookin': Perhaps somewhat quietly, Willie Tuitama has developed a knack for posting big numbers at home in Arizona Stadium. In 2007, Tuitama posted significantly better numbers, except in completion percentage, than he did on the road. The Washington game aside, where he accumulated 517 yards of total yards - third best in league history - here is a breakdown of Willie's 2007 season and the two games in 2008:

 

 

All Games (16)

Road Games (7 - Excludes UW `07)

Home Games (8)

Comp. - Attempts

412-657

225-360

187-297

Completion %

62.7%

62.5%

62.9%

Passing Yards

4,687

1,795

2,392

Touchdowns

38

14

24

Interceptions

14

10

4

Yards Per Game

292.9

256.4

299.0

Yards Per Completion

11.4

7.8

12.8

Yards Per Attempt

7.1

5.0

8.1

 

Double D: Sophomore receiver Delashaun Dean posted his first career 100-yard receiving game with a 6-106 effort and a score at Albuqurque in September. His previous high for yards was his debut game at BYU last year with four snares for 88 markers. His single-game high for catches is an 8-for-51 game against Stanford a year ago. He has a reception in each of his 16 career games and a total of 58.

 

2 X 100: Receivers Mike Thomas (136 yds) and Delashaun Dean (106 yds) each surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark against New Mexico, becoming the first UA receiving duo to accomplish the feat in 2008. The last time two Cats went over the 100-yd mark in the same game came against, interestingly, New Mexico in 2007, when three players tallied 100 yards or more (Mike Thomas 7-137, Terrell Turner 7-109, and Anthony Johnson 3-117).

 

They're Taking Notice: Antoine Cason won the Jim Thorpe Award last year, now a host of other Wildcats are on the early watch lists for major college football awards. Eight different Wildcats are on pre-season watch lists for awards:

 

QB Willie Tuitama - Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year)/Davey O'Brien Award (Top QB)

WR Mike Thomas - Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year)

OT Eben Britton - Outland Trophy (Top Interior Lineman), Rotary Lombardi Award (Top Lineman)

P Keenyn Crier - Ray Guy Award (Top Punter)

Jason Bondzio - Lou Groza Award candidate (Top Kicker)

C Blake Kerley - Rimington Trophy (Top Center)

TE Rob Gronkowski - John Mackey Award (Most Outstanding Tight End)

LB Ronnie Palmer - Butkus Award (Top Linebacker)

 

Willie in the Pac: Willie Tuitama has not only written his name in the UA record books, his arm and UA's spread offense has helped him etch his name into the Pac-10 records and with a similar season in 2008 to the one he had a year ago, he will find himself among the Conference's best. Tuitama is only 2,189 yards away from jumping 21 spots (currently No. 30 with 7,137 yards) in the all-time passing yards, which would put him in the top-10 of one of the Conference's most prestigious record books. Currently tied for No. 22 all-time in touchdown passes with 54, he needs 13 more to tie UCLA's Drew Olson, who currently stands at No. 10.  His 2007 total of 3,520 all-purpose yards ranks him No. 11 all-time in single season total yardage, which includes sacks. If he did not lose yards on sacks and only used his total passing yards as the total offense stat (3,683), Tuitama would move himself into the top-10. As is, his single season passing yards total does rank No. 10 all-time, and his 28 touchdown passes in 2007 place him in a tie for No. 14 in a single season. Add in one more scoring toss and he would again find himself in the top-10 of a category.

 

One of the Pac-10's Best: Like the other half of the TNT connection (Tuitama and Thomas), "Money" Mike Thomas is moving up the Pac-10 charts. With 83 receptions in 2007, he ranks No. 15 in single season receptions and his 11 touchdown grabs also place him No. 15 in a single season. Thomas is within striking distance of some career marks, including career receptions. The senior playmaker, who has 214 receptions in three-plus years (currently No. 10 all-time), is only 45 catches away from becoming the Pac-10's all-time receptions leader (Derek Hagen, ASU, 258). And while he currently stands at No. 18 in career receiving yards (2,814), a modest - by his standards - 315 more yards this season will move him into the top-10. Lastly, with five more touchdowns, he will find himself among the top-10 all-time leaders in receiving touchdowns (currently t-No. 25 with 21 TDs).

 

Tuitama's Total Offense: Willie Tuitama's 321 yards passing against New Mexico helped him climb into the No. 3 spot on UA's all-time Total Offense chart. Tuitama currently has compiled 6,746 yards of total offense in his career, and trails only Tom Tunnicliffe (7,336) and Keith Smith (7,049).

 

A New Leader: With his 27 completions against New Mexico, Tuitama (596) surpassed Tom Tunnicliffe as UA's all-time leader in completions (574).

 

Rob is Back: Rob Gronkowski returned to the UA lineup at UCLA and posted three catches - two touchdowns and one for a first down. Although he has only played just 13 career games, Gronkowski is already statistically placing himself among the top TEs in school history. A look at what Gronk has done through 13 games against the career totals of some of the best TEs UA has had to offer over the years:

 

Player                           Years    Rec      Yards    TDs

Ron Beyer                     75-78    53         811       7

Mark Keel                     81-82    59         856       6

Gary Parrish                  84-85    28         366       1

Richard Griffith               89-92    35         358       2

Mike Metzler                 94-96    34         497       6

Mike Lucky                   95-98    43         563       4

Brandon Manumaleuna   97-00    40         544       3

Steve Fleming                01-04    50         584       4

Brad Wood                    03-06    41         413       7

Rob Gronkowski            07-        31         557       8

 

Efficiency Under Center: Arizona's school record for pass efficiency rating is held by Keith Smith, who on UA's last bowl team in 1998 finished with a 174.2 rating. Willie Tuitama checked in a sixth on that single-season list in 2005 (136.9), at 10th last year (134.5) and with a 114.3 mark in his concussion-marred 2006 year. This season he's at 149.76 after four games - good enough for No. 29 in the nation to date.

 

Rush to Judgment: Okay, there's a boatload of games left and many trends to be determined. But Nic Grigsby's 435 rushing yards after three games would have been No. 2 on the team a year ago. The Cats rushed for 927 net yards in 2007 and have 485 entering the UCLA game. Evidently coaches spent more than lip service on re-invigorating the running game.

 

Senior Status: Willie Tuitama enters his final campaign at Arizona in elite company on a national level. The Stockton, Calif., native is one of seven quarterbacks across the country that has become a four-year starting quarterback after taking over the starting role in the final four games of his freshman season when he helped UA to wins over Oregon State and a Top-10 UCLA team. Here are the other six four-year starters:

 

Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State

Curtis Painter, Purdue

Mike Teel, Rutgers

Drew Weatherford, Florida State

Pat White, West Virginia

Drew Willy, Buffalo

 

Decoys are for Hunting: Senior receiver Mike Thomas has played in 39 games and caught a pass in 38 of them. His one miss - the final game of his freshman year on Nov. 25, 2005, at Arizona State. In that game he wore a soft but cumbersome cast on a hand, courtesy of an injury a couple weeks earlier. No passes went in his direction, but he drew coverage as expected anyway. Otherwise, Thomas could challenge for the Arizona record for consecutive games catching a pass. That's held by Dennis Northcutt, who posted 42 successive games with a grab after he was switched from true-freshman cornerback to receiver in late October of 1996, through his senior year in 1999... Northcutt (223) and Thomas (214) join leader Bobby Wade (230) in the all-time threesome for career pass receiving at UA. Northcutt was on the Arizona squad that posted the top two Wildcat per-game offense averages of 471.9 yards ('99) and 444.9 ('98), Wade was part of John Mackovic's passing makeover of the UA attack, and Thomas is now part of Mike Stoops' and Sonny Dykes' system that topped the historical chart with 308 yards passing per game last year. Thomas should emerge as Arizona's all-time pass receiver with anywhere near his 83 grabs from a year ago (29 to date in '08), and if he can match his 1,000-yard junior season he'll push for the career figure in yardage as well. (See `Charting Some Cats' elsewhere in this release for the numbers.)  Clearly, there's little doubt you can say `Mike Thomas' in the same Arizona historical context as Northcutt, Wade or Jon Horton and the late Theopolis T. Bell -- among others: playmakers all.

 

TEP Bill: It's a good thing that Tucson Electric Power is a proud sponsor of Arizona Athletics because the Arizona offense hopes to keep electricians busy by lighting up the home side of the scoreboard with points. Entering 2008, the Arizona spread attack returned 10 starters from a year ago and entered the second year of an offensive system that averaged 28.0 points per game, the highest mark for a UA team in six years (29.1 ppg, 2001). Even more impressive was the offensive output in the Wildcats' five wins in 2007, when the unit tallied totals of 45, 48, 48, 34 and 34 points for an average of 41.8 points per game. However, none of those totals match the 70 points put up against Idaho in Week 1 - the third highest total in program history and the most since 1921.On the season, UA is averaging 42.5 points per game, a mark that ranks No. 12 nationally.

 

Close Calls: Arizona played six games in 2007 that were ultimately decided by seven points or less, including wins at Washington (48-41) and on Homecoming against UCLA (34-27). Unfortunately, UA was on the losing end of such close ball games twice as many times. The Wildcats dropped heartbreakers to New Mexico (29-27), USC (20-13), Stanford (21-20) and Arizona State (20-17). That is four games lost by a combined 13 points (3.25 points per game). In 2008, UA's lone loss to New Mexico was decided by a touchdown (and a two-point coversion).

 

Bondzio, Jason Bondzio: The man with the gold finger, er, toe, for Arizona is senior kicker Bondzio. In 2008, he has connected on three of four field goals and kicked home all 20 extra point attempts. Last year he knocked home 21 field goals in 26 tries. That .808 percentage is the second best in school history and his total made him only the fourth place kicker in Arizona history to make 20 or more.  Max Zendejas (1982-85) had numerous last-second winning kicks (like at Notre Dame in 1982) and built a legend with 20 or more his sophomore through senior years, while his successor, Gary Coston was 21-for-24 in 1986 and Lou Groza Award winner Steve McLaughlin was 23-for-29 in 1994. Coston's .875 mark in '86 is the school record. Bondzio scored 100 points on the nose in 2007 (with 37-for-38 PAT support) to make him the first kicker in school history to reach the century mark and the No. 3 spot overall for season scoring. Zendejas, whose nephew Alex is Bondzio's understudy redshirt freshman, had 99 points in 1983 when he kicked 20 field goals and 39 extra points. Here's a look at the historical Made Field Goals chart for UA:

 

Steve McLaughlin, 1994        23-29 FG, .793, 26-26 PAT

Gary Coston, 1986               21-24 FG, .875, 34-34 PAT

Max Zendejas, 1985             22-29 FG, .759, 23-23 PAT

Jason Bondzio, 2007            21-26 FG, .808, 37-38 PAT  

Max Zendejas, 1984             21-27 FG, .778, 23-24 PAT

 

The Graduates: Two Arizona players already have received degrees, placekicker Jason Bondzio in finance and offensive lineman James Tretheway in mathematics. J.B.'s working on a master's degree, while Tretheway is taking an additional bachelor's degree program in economics. Three other letterwinning Wildcats are anticipated to graduate in December -- H-back Brandon Lopez, offensive guard Joe Longacre and offensive lineman Bill Wacholz.

 

Century Mark: With 111 points combined in its first two games, UA has eclipsed 100 combined points in consecutive games for the first time since 1954 and only the sixth time in school history. Here is a look at those games:

 

Year                 Total                Opponents

1952                 119 Points         vs. Hawaii (W, 57-7)/New Mexico State (W, 62-12)

1916*                114 Points         vs. UTEP (W, 41-0)/New Mexico State (W, 73-0)

1954                 112 Points         vs. New Mexico State (W, 58-0)/Utah (W, 54-20)

2008                 111 Points         vs. Idaho (W, 70-0) / vs. Toledo (W, 41-16)

1921                 105 points         vs. UTEP (W, 74-0)/New Mexico State (W, 31-0)

1920                 101 points         at UTEP (W, 60-7)/vs. New Mexico St. (W, 41-0)

 

* UA defeated Phoenix Indians 55-0 in between these two games. Such games against non-major college football programs during this era are not counted for statistical purposes.

 

Records Check: As one might expect in a 70-0 romp, Arizona broke several school records for offensive scoring output against Idaho. The first record to fall was the 28 year old record for most points scored in a single half (42 points against Pacific in 1980 and against UTEP in 1976) as the Wildcats tallied 49 first-half points.In doing so, UA posted 35 second quarter points, breaking the previous high mark set in 1954 when the Cats scored 29 in the third quarter against New Mexico State.

 

Cloud 9 - UA scored 10 - yes, 10 - touchdowns against Idaho on Aug. 30. What can be more impressive than scoring 10 touchdowns in a single game? How about nine (9) different players scoring those touchdowns. Nic Grigsby (2), Mike Thomas, Marquis Hundley, Chris Gronkowski, Keola Antolin, Terrell Turner, Matt Scott, Nick Booth and Xavier Smith all found the endzone in what is believed to be the most individual touchdowns in a single game in UA history.

 

Opening Day Rosters:  Arizona had 16 former players suit up for NFL opening-week games as active roster members. They included linebacker Lance Briggs-Bears, Tedy Bruschi-Patriots, defensive lineman Copeland Bryan-Ravens, defensive lineman Lionel Dotson-Dolphins, cornerback Antoine Cason-Chargers, kicker Nick Folk-Dowboys, running back Chris Henry-Titans, safety Michael Johnson-Giants, linebacker Spencer Larsen-Broncos, tight end Brandon Manumaleuna-Chargers, offensive lineman Edwin Mulitalo-Ravens, cornerback Chris McAlister-Ravens, receiver Dennis Northcutt-Jaguars, receiver Syndric Steptoe-Browns and receiver Bobby Wade-Vikings.

 

MOV: Not that any team can or should expect 70-0 performances to be the norm, but UA's 70-point margin of victory last Saturday was a long time coming. It was the largest MOV since 1921 and the third largest in school history. Here's a look at the Top 5 MOV's in UA history:

 

Point Margin                Opponent                     Year                 Score

  1. 74                           UTEP                            1921                 74-0

  2. 73                           New Mexico St.             1916                 73-0

  3. 70                           Idaho                           2008                 70-0

  4. 60                           South Dakota St.           1956                 60-0

  5. 59                           Arizona St.                    1919                 59-0

 

Fresh Faces: Head coach Mike Stoops wasn't blowing smoke when he noted in his pre-opener news conference that a number of new guys had chances to play. In UA's opener against Idaho, a total of 31 players saw their first official game action as Wildcats.

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