Aug. 30, 2010
Complete Release in PDF Format
Arizona (0-0, 0-0 Pac-10) at Toledo (0-0, 0-0 MAC) 8 p.m. (EDT)
Glass Bowl (26,248) | Toledo, Ohio
Live TV Broadcast: ESPN (national)
Television Talent: Joe Tessitore (play-by-play); Rod Gilmore (color analyst)
UA English Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries, play-by-play; Lamont Lovette, color; Dana Cooper, sideline)
Satellite Radio: XM 212
All-Time Series: Arizona leads 2-0
First Meeting: 1985 (UA 23, Toledo 10 at Tucson)
Last Meeting: 2008 (UA 41, Toledo 16 at Tucson)
UA Football Hits the Road in Style
The Arizona Football equipment truck, which travels to all road games throughout the season, has a brand new look this season courtesy of corporate sponsor Horizon Moving Systems. Featured as this story’s headline photo, the revamped UA equipment truck will depart for Toledo on Tuesday in advance of the team’s departure on Thursday. All of the essentials, including jerseys, helmets and other important equipment are loaded onto the truck and taken to each game. This season, Arizona Athletics is encouraging out-of-town fans to be on the lookout for the UA equipment truck as it heads to UA’s road destinations. If you see the truck on the road this week or any week, snap a picture of it and send it to email@example.com and you could win a pair of tickets to a home football game. A winner will be selected each week before a home game.
Some Game Themes
The excitement of opening week finds Arizona on the road in unfamiliar surroundings, in its easternmost game since opening the 1999 season at Penn State... The Cats open the year against a Mid-American Conference team for a consecutive year, but it's the first-ever trip for a Pac-10 squad to a MAC venue... A match of squads with Biletnikoff Award candidates in UA's Juron Criner and Toledo's Eric Page. Super soph Page led the Rockets and was first in the nation among freshmen with 82 receptions for 1,159 yards. He ranked ninth in the country with 6.8 receptions per game. Criner snagged a more modest 45 catches for 670 yards, but had nine scoring receptions, two more than Page... UA's new defense - new guys, not the system - will get tested by Page, a formidable offensive line and a hungry quarterback To Be Named on game week... UA signal caller Nick Foles will line up with his veteran offensive unit (nine returning starters) against a Rocket defense that returns six starters led by senior linebacker Archie Donald... The game will unveil the four-coordinator system UA employs, with Bill Bedenbaugh (field) and Seth Littrell (box) on offense and Tim Kish (box) and Greg Brown (field) on defense... Will Arizona do anything different with its quarterbacks? Foles clearly is No. 1, but the other guys (Matt Scott, Bryson Beirne) have coaches' confidence and whether UA opts to spread the wealth is subject to question... The Cats and Rockets meet in Arizona's fifth consecutive game on the ESPN/ABC family of networks.
The Wildcats wrapped up a preseason slate of training camp sessions with a thunderstorm-shortened "Meet the Team" night on Saturday, Aug. 21, featuring a minimalist scrimmage that wouldn't necessarily show anyone much game-planning for Toledo or beyond. This past week turned attention to game preparation ahead of an unusual Friday night start to the season coming up on Sept. 3. Camp was a businesslike affair showcasing Arizona's veteran offense, its who's-next defense, superior depth at skill positions and an overall confidence that the Holiday Bowl pasting by Nebraska was a useful incident well in the past. Head coach Mike Stoops likes his situation with co-coordinators on both sides of the ball. Offensively the Cats appear happy to run downhill when they're not letting Nick Foles pitch it downfield, defensively there will be some testing of personnel until things get totally established. Some newcomers turned heads and will become more commonly known in UA's football lexicon very shortly.
Arizona - Mike Stoops (Iowa '86), seventh year (33-39) at UA and overall as a head coach. Stoops returned Arizona from a 2-10 program the year before his arrival to the national rankings in his tenure, and has taken the Wildcats to successive bowl games to close the decade. His recruiting and player development programs have put talent back on the field and sent more than a dozen players to the professional ranks via the draft or free agency in the past four years. He has coached national award winners and a combined 28 All-Pacific-10 players. His Arizona clubs have beaten a ranked team each of his years in the red and blue. Arizona football attendance has been a positive feature of a home-field advantage under Coach Stoops, with crowds averaging 93 percent of capacity each of his six seasons at Arizona Stadium. Arizona's football team APR checked in with an improved mark each of the five seasons since his inaugural year. Toledo - Tim Beckman (Findlay '88), Toledo, second year at UT (5-7) and overall. The game pits coaches with defensive backgrounds. Stoops was defensive coordinator at Kansas State and Oklahoma from 1996-2003 and has been on the defensive side since his coaching start in 1986, while and Beckman was DC at Oklahoma State in 2007-08 and at two other stops in his career, plus a defensive guy since his coaching start in 1988.
Series Quick Hits
The Wildcats and Rockets have meet only twice in the long histories of the two programs ... Both previous meetings were held in Tucson at Arizona Stadium, with the Wildcats claiming each contest starting and 1985 and most recently in 2008 ... UA has outscored Toledo a combined 64-26 and will put that control of the series on the line in the first meeting in the Rockets' home venue, the Glass Bowl ... This year's trip will be UA's first contest in the Buckeye state not played against Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. The Wildcats are 1-2 in three meetings against OSU in Columbus, winning 14-7 in 1967, and dropping games by scores of 38-14 and 26-20 in 1991 and 1997, respectively ... The game will be UA's sixth all-time against current Mid American Conference schools and the first the Wildcats play against such schools away from Arizona Stadium ... UA has previously defeated Toledo twice, and Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan once apiece.
Program: The Last Four Years
When one thinks of Arizona football under Mike Stoops, they likely point to the early struggles in the first four years as he worked feverishly to rebuild the program followed by promising eight-win seasons the last two years. One thing that goes overlooked is the fact that, despite injuries to record-setting QB Willie Tuitama, the Wildcats posted a 6-6 mark in 2006 to achieve bowl eligibility on the heels of a pair of 3-8 seasons. While they didn't go bowling, the Cats had broken a stretch of six straight losing seasons for the program. The following year, Stoops brought in Sonny Dykes to overhaul the offense. While Arizona posted just a 5-7 mark in 2007, the offensive makeover was well underway and set the stage for breakout years in 2008 and 2009, as the Cats went bowling for the first time since 1998 in each season. Now, UA has winning overall and Pac-10 records the last four seasons. Surely, having his systems firmly established and his recruits in place has benefitted Stoops' teams over the long haul. Here's a look at the last four seasons - three of which have been bowl-eligible campaigns - for Stoops' Wildcats as it relates to the previous four and seven year stretches of UA football:
• UA is 19-11 in its last 30 games, including a 14-8 mark in the Pac-10
• UA has averaged 6.75 wins per seasons the last four years
• UA averaged just 4.0 wins per season over the previous seven seasons
• UA is 9-9 on the road in the Pac-10 the last four years
• UA never won more than one road game in a season from 2002-05
• UA has nearly as many total wins the last four years (27) as it did the previous seven (28)
• UA has five more total Pac-10 wins the last four years (19) than the previous seven combined (14)
One of the Last Hurdles
Mike Stoops has brought the Arizona program a long way in his six seasons in the Old Pueblo. Consecutive eight-win seasons, the first bowl victory in a decade and playing to within seconds of the school's first Rose Bowl are sure signs of that. But one thing the Cats have failed to do in limited chances is pick up a non-conference road victory. Yes, the Wildcats defeated BYU in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl at a neutral site, but this year's season-opener at Toledo offers a new challenge. UA has dropped roadies at Utah ('05), at LSU ('06), at BYU ('07), at New Mexico ('08) and at Iowa ('09) over the last five years. Snapping that trend would be yet another stamp of approval for the success the program has had in recent seasons.
Rushing Attack Intact
Entering 2010, Arizona returns over 4,400 career rushing yards, a pretty impressive figure. The head of the attack is none other than senior tailback Nic Grigsby, who accounts for 2,424 yards despite not emerging as the starter until late in his freshman season of 2007 and missing significant action with injuries last year. Backfield mate Keola Antolin has accumulated 1,094 yards to date through two seasons, while sophomore Greg Nwoko added 273 in his rookie campaign last fall. Added up, that's 3,791 career yards from the top tailbacks. Throw in dual-threat QB Matt Scott's 493 career yards and markers from H-back Taimi Tutogi (50) and WR Juron Criner (62) a year ago and you have a total of over 4,400 rushing yards returning. Of that group, only Grigsby is a senior.
Rushing to Success
The spread offense has taken over college football in recent seasons and the Wildcats jumped on the bandwagon with Sonny Dykes and his staff in 2007. With it came a record-setting passing season for Arizona in 2007 and back-to-back eight-win seasons in 2008 and 2009. But the Wildcats have found their success most consistent in running the football, not tossing is around for 300-plus yards per game. Not coincidentally, a more consistent ground game the last two seasons has helped the Wildcats win more games. Consider this rush of facts:
• Arizona is just 5-7 in games when it passes for 300+ yards since the start of 2006
• Arizona is 6-1 in games when its opponent throws for 300+ yards in a game since '06
• Arizona is 21-6 in games when it rushes for 100+ yards in a game since `06
• Arizona is just 11-19 in games when its opponent rushes for 100+ yards in a game since `06
• Only four teams have beat UA when rushing for less than 100 yards since the start of `06
• UA has not lost a game in the last two seasons when opponent rushes for less than 100 yards
Leading the Way
The Arizona Wildcats voted on their team captains 10 days prior to the season opener, with four veterans drawing the respect of their teammates. Senior defensive linemen Brooks Reed and Mana Mikaele will represent the defense as captains, while senior center Colin Baxter and junior quarterback Nick Foles will carry the honors for the offense. Two other players, wide receiver David Roberts and linebacker Jake Fischer, will represent the football team in UA's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which works with athletic administrators to provide feedback on improving the Arizona experience for student-athletes.
Where Grigsby Stacks Up
Senior tailback Nic Grigbsy enters his final campaign at No. 8 on the career rushing charts, with significant potential to ascend up the chart with a productive and healthy season. Grigsby needs 576 yards to become the school's sixth player to reach 3,000 career rushing yards.
Big Play Juron
Wide receiver Juron Criner turned in a breakout season as a sophomore a year ago as he emerged as UA's big-play threat on the outside. He led the team with nine touchdown receptions, which checked in tied for No. 5 on the single season receiving TD chart at UA. Perhaps most noteworthy of his stats, which included 45 grabs for 581 yards, was the fact that he hauled in TD grabs at Iowa, at Oregon State and at USC. Pretty stingy competition, and two of those games were wins, including on Dec. 5 at USC when Criner's 36-yard scoring play proved to be the game-winner late in the 4th quarter. His breakout performance came in a nationally televised game home game on ESPN against Oregon in late November with Rose Bowl implications. The 6-foot-4 Criner hauled in three TD catches, including a 71-yarder on a screen pass in the 4th quarter. While UA fell 44-41 in double overtime, Criner capped his night with the go-ahead TD in the first overtime. In another clutch performance, Criner tallied 12 receptions for 152 yards in a thrilling home victory over Stanford. Here are some quick hits on Juron Criner:
• Just two TD's shy of breaking into UA's career to-10 for receiving TD's
• Led all UA receivers with a 12.9 yards per catch average in 2009
• Nearly 60-percent of his catches in 2009 went for a TD or a first down
• Led all UA players with four scoring plays of 20+ yards
• Had most 20+yard plays by a player who did not also factor in kick/punt returns
In 2009, Arizona was explosive in both the kick and punt return games. With both of the primary return men - Travis Cobb (KOR) and Bug Wright (PR) - back, the Wildcats hope to add to their highlight reel special teams play. As a unit, Arizona ranked No. 4 in the nation with 15.3 yards per punt return average. Wright averaged 19.2 yards per return, paced by an 86-yarder for a score, which would have been tops in the nation and best in school history had he reached the minimum number of attempts per game. Meantime, Cobb averaged 25.4 yards per kickoff return tote, and the Wildcats checked in No. 10 nationally with a 24.9 yards per return average.
YPP Facts and Figures
In 2009, the Arizona rushing attack averaged 4.8 yards per carry, the best average for a UA squad since 1999 when career rushing leader Trung Canidate was finishing up his stellar career. It also continued a trend of steady improvement by the Wildcats in recent seasons under the new offensive staff that was headed by Sonny Dykes from 2007-09. Dykes brought with him Bill Bedenbaugh, who is now a co-offensive coordinator and one who deserves significant credit for revamping UA's offensive line, and with it, the running game as a whole. Consider that in 2006, prior to Bedenbaugh's arrival, the Cats rushed for just 2.7 yards per carry. That number inched up to 2.9 ypc in 2007, before skyrocketing to 4.1 ypc in 2008 and eventually the 4.8 mark a year ago. The consecutive seasons with 4.0+ yards per carry is a first for the Cats since the 1998-99 squads that feature Candidate did so with 4.9 and 5.2 averages, respectively.
Arizona's success on the gridiron hinges greatly on its fortunes in the turnover battle, particularly on the road. Since the start of the 2006 season (50 total games), the Wildcats are an impressive 12-3 when they win the turnover battle in a game. Conversely, they struggle to a 4-12 mark in games when they lose the critical battle. The Cats linger just over .500 in games they split the turnover margin with an 11-8 mark. In multiple miscue games, Arizona is just 11-15 when it turns the ball over two or more times, but has benefitted with an 8-3 clip when opponents turn it over twice or more in a game. But perhaps the most notable statistical trend as it relates to turnovers is the fact that the Cats are 0-9 in the last 50 games when they lose the turnover battle on the road. At the same time, UA is 9-4 away from the home when it wins or splits the turnover battle.
Moving the Chains
The Wildcats' offensive attack the last several years has been very good at moving the chains and keeping drives alive. A good game in this category includes accumulating 20 or more first downs in a game. When the Cats reach that mark, they are 12-4 over the last two seasons and 17-6 since the start of the 2006 season. At the same time, keeping opponents under that mark is critical, too. UA has captured 20 of its 27 victories over the last four years by keeping opponents under 20 first downs in a game. If UA gets 20 and keeps its opponents below that number in the same game, the Cats win 80-percent of the time (12-3 record).
Game of Possession
While not always the case, maintaining possession of the football is a sign that one's offense is moving the ball and its defense is doing a sound job controlling the opposing offense That has usually been the case for the Wildcats, although some quirky games (such as a 23:32 edge in possession at Oregon in 2008) skew TOP from being a perfect stat. Even so, Arizona is 20-7 since the start of 2006 when it has a positive margin in time of possession and struggles to just a 7-16 mark when its opponents keeps the ball longer. For games in which the opponent controls the ball four or more minutes longer than the Cats yields a 3-13 record for the Cardinal and Navy. When the tables are turned and UA has the four-plus minutes of possession, the Cats are 15-6.
3rd Down Improvement
In 2009, the Wildcats saw their third down conversion percentage drop from 46.3 percent in 2008 to 41.4 percent. First-year starting quarterbacks and an injury-plagued backfield are plausible explanations. Undoubtedly, the Cats would like to see that number improve this coming year. But, the consecutive 40-plus percent conversion rates the last two seasons are the first two for UA teams since 1998-99, when the teams were both above 42 percent. Even more positive for the Wildcats, their defense has been solid the last two years in defending in third down situations. Opponents have been held to an average of 34.7 percent conversions the last two seasons after converting an all-to-high 43.2 percent against UA's defense in 2007.
In the last two seasons, the Wildcats have developed a knack for fast starts to games and halves. In 2009, the Wildcats outscored their opponents 105-58 in the first quarter of games and 77-56 in the third quarter. Combined with the 2008 season, those numbers are even more impressive. UA has outscored opponents 197-120 in the first quarter of its last 26 games, and 205-110 in the third quarter of those games. What does it mean? Either the Wildcats thrive playing fully rested or perhaps game plans and coaching adjustments are spot-on and the players are executing those plans.
Notes on Sacks
Arizona registered 34 sacks last season, led by DE Ricky Elmore who notched a Pac-10-leading 10.5 sacks during the regular season. The defense ranked No. 22 in the NCAA and No. 3 in the Pac-10 on the year with a 2.62 sacks per game. UA's season total was its most in nearly a decade, falling just short of the 36 posted by the 2001 club. Of note, the Wildcats turned in at least three sacks in a game seven times last season (5-2 record), the most three-sack games for a UA squad since 2000 when it had eight. In its last 50 games, Arizona has recorded three or more sacks in a game 20 times with a 14-6 record.
Discipline has been one of the staples of Mike Stoops football teams at Arizona over the last several seasons. In fact, in its last 50 games, Arizona has drawn more penalty flags than its opponents just 16 times (32 percent). Of UA's 27 wins in that times span, 21 have come in games when the Cats have been flagged fewer times than their opponents.
Colin the Shots
UA center Colin Baxter returns for his final season in a Wildcat uniform and will undoubtedly be calling the shots on the offensive line. He has started 37-consecutive games along UA's line, providing stability at a position of need. In 2008, he was slid from guard to center mid-year after center Blake Kerley went down with a season-ending injury. Since, Baxter hasn't look back. He's a featured spokesman for the team, offering unique perspective acquired from his time in the trenches and his tireless work with the program on and off the field. He was named a team captain prior to the season for the second straight year and will make a final push for national honors at his position. An All-Pac-10 selection a year ago, Baxter is on the Outland Trophy and Rimington Award watch lists entering the season.
Visiting the ZonaZoo?
The Wildcats have developed quite a home field advantage playing in Arizona Stadium in front of one of the largest and most spirited student sections in the country - the ZonaZoo - and a loyal fan base that has turned out in record numbers during the Mike Stoops era.
• UA has won 12 of its last 15 home games
• Only losses to No. 6 USC and No. 22 Oregon State in 2008, and No. 11 Oregon in 2OT in 2009
• The three losses have come by a total of 12 points (4 ppg average)
• UA has won its 12 games by an average of 22.7 ppg • UA has just one single-digit victory in the span (2009 vs. Stanford)
• UA's 5-1 record in 2009 was its best home record since it went 5-1 three straight years from `96-98
• UA has averaged 50,000+ fans per game for six straight seasons, the best stretch in school history
• UA has averaged 52,780 fans per game in Mike Stoops' six seasons, with a 21-18 record
• A total of 2,058,412 fans have watched Stoops' teams at Arizona Stadium
• The ZonaZoo seats over 10,000 first-come, first-served patrons from endzone-to-endzone and has a membership well over 12,000 and growing, which accounts for one-third of UA's enrollment.
Old Man on the Block
Arizona graduate offensive tackle Adam Grant, who moves to the left side this year after a couple of years on the right, is an NCAA-approved sixth-year player thanks to some earlier medical problems that caused him to miss nine games as a sophomore (knee) and his redshirt freshman year in 2006 (knee). He also missed six games with a hand injury in 2008. Grant's tenacity and physical situation are at all-time highs. The 24-year-old religious studies student earned his degree two Mays ago. He's an 18-game starter in 20 overall appearances and one of the team's spokesmen on a variety of topics, notably perseverance. He initially was recruited as a tight end (redshirted 2005 in that role) but his big frame (now 6-foot-8, 325) was evident, and his future was a few feet closer to the ball from the onset of his career.Mike Stoops'
Cats in the Pac
Arizona's 6-3 mark in the Pac-10 in 2010 was its best since 1998 and is the third six-win Pac-10 season in program history. The record gave the Wildcats 14 victories in their last 22 conference games, dating to the last four games of the 2007 season. That 14-8 record (0.636 winning percentage) is impressive by itself, but even in the Wildcats' eight losses, they have been just a few plays away from winning each game. UA has lost five of the eight games by three points or less and by a total of 37 points (average of 4.6 per game).
Late Season Success
Mike Stoops' Wildcats have enjoyed a nice run of success in the months of November and December since his arrival in 2004 despite back-to-back losses at Cal and against Oregon. A career record of 33-39 includes a 14-10 mark in the final two months of the season. Over the last three seasons, Arizona is 11-7 in such late-season games. But, perhaps most impressive, the Wildcats are 7-4 against ranked teams in November/December showdowns, , which includes last year's Las Vegas Bowl win over BYU last December. Last year, the Cats entered November with a national ranking of their own, but dropped from the polls after a loss at California. A victory at No. 20 USC vaulted the Cats back into the polls at the end of the regular season, but a bowl loss to No. 20 Nebraska again dropped the Cats from the polls.
Elmore Looking for More
Defensive end Ricky Elmore turned in a breakout junior season as he has emerged as the Pac-10's sack leader through 12 regular season games in 2009. Elmore tallied a career-high 10.5 sacks in much-needed fashion as classmate Brooks Reed struggled through the early-middle portion of the schedule with an ankle injury. Reed returned last year as one of the more heralded ends in the league, but Elmore more than filled in on the opposite side. Elmore's 10.5 sacks were the most for a Wildcat in a decade, surpassing Joe Tafoya's 10.0 set back in 1999. The next best total was 11.5 by Joe Salave'a in 1997. Then it's Tedy Bruschi's 14.5 and 19.0 totals in the 1995 and 1993 seasons, respectively.
Reed Ready to Lead
Senior defensive end Brooks Reed is eager to put a disappointing junior season behind him. It was disappointing only because a high ankle injury suffered in Week 3 at Iowa hampered him much of the season, including missing all or most of several mid-season games. He had returned as UA's leader in sacks from a breakout sophomore season when he tallied 8.5 in 2008. Reed, named one of four team captains for this season, will combine with 2009 breakout man Ricky Elmore to give the Wildcats one of the top bookend defensive end combos in the nation. Health will be much welcomed and much needed for both players on the line.
B2B Road Wins
The Wildcats finished the 2009 regular season by winning back-to-back true road games in consecutive weeks for the first time in school history. The historical games included a 20-17 last-second victory at Arizona State and a 21-17 come-from-behind win at USC. There have been only a handful of seasons in which the Wildcats closed regular seasons with a pair of road games, including 1999, 1993, 1987 and 1971 in the mostly modern era of football. The school did the same in the 1951 and 1952 seasons, and the first such instance came in the 1932 season. In the 1910's and 1920's, Arizona did play several neutral site games paired with a road game to end seasons. But no matter how you look at it, last year's accomplishment was pretty rare and well-earned.
Not to Be Offensive
Over the course of the last 37 games, Arizona has scored 13 non-offensive touchdowns (once every 2.85 games). In 2007 and 2008, the Wildcats scored on two punt returns and two interception returns in each season. In 2009 , Travis Cobb scored on a kickoff return (95 yards), Bug Wright returned a punt to the house (86 yards), Orlando Vargas blocked a punt and returned it for a score (23 yards), and defensive backs Trevin Wade (38 yards) and Robert Golden (79 yards) had pick-six's. The Cats hope more are in store in all phases of the game in 2010.
Zendejas on Point
Somewhat quietly, 2010 Lou Groza Award watch list member Alex Zendejas turned in an impressive year for a place kicker in his first year of a full duty a season ago. Zendejas connected on 17-of-22 field goals, including a career-long 47-yarder at the end of the first half against Oregon and a game-winning 32-yarder as time expired against ASU (named Pac-10 Special teams Player of the Week for the game-winner). He's missed three PATs, but still hit 38-of-41, giving him 89 points on the year. He tied with uncle Max's 89 points in the 1985 season, which is the No. 10 mark for a single season for scoring (all players). In 2007, Jason Bondzio became the first UA kicker to reach 100. Alex's four field goals in four tries at Washington tied the school record for which he already grabbed a share. He hit on relative chip shots of 18, 23, 29 and 24 yards against the Huskies. For his effort, Zendejas was named one of three "Stars of the Week" by the Lou Groza Collegiate Place Kicker Award. He opened the season 4-for-5 against Central Michigan to join four other former Wildcats with four in a game. His UW performance also gave him a piece of the 4-for-4 single-game high-percentage mark held by the same four kickers (Doug Pfaff vs. Stanford 1989, Max Zendejas at LSU 1984, Charlie Gorham vs. Indiana 1973 and Steve Jurley vs. UTEP 1968).
30 Is (Usually) The Magic Number
The Cats' loss to Oregon in double overtime and their 36-33 loss to Washington on Oct. 10 was a rare one. Since joining the Pac-10 in 1978, the Wildcats have played 111 games in which they have scored 30 or more points. Their record in those games? An astounding 99-11-1. That record included a streak of 18 consecutive victories prior to the Oregon game in 2008 (55-45 loss), and UA is now 20-3 under Mike Stoops. Arizona was 8-1 in such games in 2008 and is 4-2 in 2009.
If Not 30, Try 40
If Arizona's .892 winning percentage since 1978 when scoring 30 or more points isn't enough, then try out a 40+ point stat. In its entire history of football, Arizona is 110-5 when scoring 40 or more points in a game, something it did in four home games a year ago. As you might expect, Arizona was 4-0 in those games. What you might not know is that the last time UA reached the mark four times in one season was in 1954, when it did so six times. In 2009, the Wildcats have reached 40 points three times with a 2-1 record in those games. The loss? A 44-41 double overtime victory by Oregon. Amazingly, the Ducks also dropped the Cats the year prior, 55-45, in Eugue, accounting for two of the five all-time losses.
Get In the Zone
Arizona hopes that a late kickoff (8 p.m. ET or 5 p.m. Tucson) will be the formula it needs to shake off some struggles playing in the central and eastern time zones in recent years. Since 1978, UA has opened its road schedule 12 times by playing outside of the more comfortable Pacific and Mountain time zones when there is either no time change or perhaps one hour difference. Playing two time zones away, the Cats are just 2-10 in road openers, with many of those games being late morning or early afternoon starts at local time in Midwestern cities such as Madison, Wisc., Champaign, Ill, Columbus, Ohio, and West Lafayette, Ind., among others. Those games have been even earlier for the Wildcats who were lining up for kickoff as early as 8 a.m. based on their normal body clocks. Of UA's two wins in such games, its last was at Georgia Tech in 1994, which was a special Thursday night game on ESPN.
Road openers have not been kind to the Wildcats, who are 14-16-2 since 1978 in such games, including eight-straight losses entering this season. Now, the Cats have had some difficult games in that recent stretch, including at Wisconsin ('02), at Purdue ('03), at UCLA ('04), at Utah ('05), at LSU ('06), at BYU ('07), at New Mexico ('08) and at Iowa ('09). This year's trip to Toledo on Sept. 3 will not only be UA's first road game, but its season-opener. Since joining the Pac-10 in 1978, the Cats have opened a season on the road just 10 times, going 5-5 in those games. UA has dropped its last two such games, including the games against Utah and BYU.
Youth in Charge
Arizona co-offensive coordinators Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell hit the chart of "youngest coordinators" compiled by East Carolina SID Tom McClellan. Littrell, 32, is the eight-youngest coordinator in the country and seventh-youngest OC, while Bedenbaugh, 38, is 32nd on the overall list. Twenty-seven-year-old Lincoln Riley (offensive) of ECU is the youngest coordinator in the land.
Experience in Charge
Arizona co-defensive coordinators Tim Kish and Greg Brown hit the chart of "most-experienced" coordinators compiled by ECU SID Tom McClellan. Kish and Brown have a combined 66 years of college and pro coaching experience, which together checks in as the fifth-most by a coordinator duo in the nation. Most of schools on the list combine their OC and their DC, but Arizona and Iowa are the two schools in the top-5 of the chart that sport co-defensive coordinators.
Cornerback Trevin Wade enters his junior season with nine career interceptions in just 13 career games started. He snared five interceptions and broke up 14 passes a year ago to lead the Wildcats and emerge as one of the Pac-10's premier corner backs. He enters his junior season with potential to move into some lofty career charts by season's end should he remain healthy and productive. An All-League pick a year by coaches, Wade enters 2010 on several preseason watch lists, including consideration for the Jim Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Award. He is one of four returning starters and is expected to be a top playmaker for the Wildcats.
Golden Worth His Weight in Gold
Junior defensive back Robert Golden will be one of the expected leaders of the Wildcat defense after starting 13 games a season ago at safety. The one difference this season is that the 5-11, 190-pounder will likely line up at cornerback most of the time this season. A natural corner, Golden shifted to safety last year as Devin Ross returned as a starter and the emergence of Trevin Wade brought some welcomed depth. The UA continues to show solid depth, but this time around it's the young and talented safeties in the program that will allow Golden to move back to the island. You will see him line up inside at nickel and safety spots in certain defensive packages, but the second-year starter is eager to show his skills at corner once again.
For some reason, UA receivers in recent seasons haven't been able to reach the elusive No. 13 for single game receptions. The number is significant because no player has ever finished a game at Arizona with 13 catches. In 1996, Jeremy McDaniel eclipsed the mark by hauling in 14 passes for 283 yards (another school record). Since, UA receivers have snared 12 catches a total of six times. Bobby Wade hit the dozen mark in 2002, while Mike Thomas did so twice in 2007. In 2008, Rob Gronkowski caught 12 passes in a game at Oregon, while teammate Dave Roberts did so in 2009 on the road at Washington. Juron Criner was the latest Wildcat to join mix, pulling in 12 grabs for 152 against Stanford a week later in 2009. In all, eight single game performances have fallen one catch shy of 13 in UA history.
The Wildcats will return home to begin a stretch of four-consecutive home games played over the course of five weeks. The home opener will welcome The Citadel to Arizona Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 11. The UA will celebrate Public Safety night at the stadium in honor of public service men and women across the world. The game will be televised live on KWBA Channel 58 in Tucson and on FOX College Sports. Taped versions of the game will re-run on KGUN-9 TV in Tucson and on FOX Sports Arizona beginning at 10:35 p.m.