Aug. 27, 2012
Location: Tucson, Ariz. (Arizona Stadium -- 51,811)
Television Broadcast: ESPNU (national)
TV Commentators: Joe Davis (pxp), Mike Belotti (analyst)
UA Radio Network: 1290 AM Tucson
Broadcasters: Brian Jeffries (pxp), Lamont Lovett (color analyst), Dana Cooper (sideline analyst) UA Spanish Radio: 990 AM Tucson; Samuel Sandoval (pxp), Marco Rincon (color analyst)
Sat. Radio: XM 199, SIRIUS 137
Arizona-Toledo Series History
All-Time Series: Arizona leads, 3-0
First Meeting: Sept. 7, 1985 (UA 23, Oregon 10 at Tucson)
Last Meeting: Sept. 3, 2010 (UA 41, Toledo 2 at Toledo)
Streak: UA has won all three meetings
Some Game Themes: The Rich Rodriguez officially kicks off this Saturday, the culmination of a resolute offseason in which the 30th Arizona head coach worked feverishly to change the culture of the Wildcat program ... The veteran head coach's transformation process coincides with the construction of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility on the north end of Arizona Stadium, a can't-miss visual confirmation that the program is truly building toward the future ... The immediate on-field results will be anyone's guess as the Cats debut new offensive and defensive schemes ... Complicating matters will be a hungry Toledo squad seeking revenge for a couple of routs administered by the Cats in two recent meetings under the previous coaching regime ... The Rockets are fresh off a thrilling Military Bowl victory (42-41) against Air Force, while UA was on hiatus after three consecutive bowl trips ... UT coach Matt Campbell enters his first full season at the helm after coaching the bowl game ... A four-game or a two-game winning streak will be snapped, but more importantly will mark an initial setback for one first-year ball coach and his squad... Storylines at quarterback are plentiful, namely for the Rockets who are expected to trot out both Austin Dantin and Terrence Owens. Meanwhile, Matt Scott finds himself as the undisputed starter at Arizona for the first time in his career, and seems a natural fit in Rodriguez's multiple-spread system ... UA linebacker Jake Fischer returns after a year's absence (knee injury) to become a centerpiece of a new 3-3-5 alignment installed by defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel... Depth concerns, mainly across the defensive two-deep, mean as many as a dozen true freshmen could debut for the Wildcats ... A Labor Day Weekend game for the Wildcats, who have lost just once on the holiday weekend ...
The Last Meeting: Arizona defeated Toledo, 41-2, in the season opener on Sept. 3, 2010, at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio. The Wildcats set a single-game passing percentage record in throwing for 415 yards and three scores to punctuate a broader team effort. UA's Nick Foles (32-for-37, 86%) and Matt Scott (5-for-7, 71%) combined for an 84.1% mark and new standard. Foles' individual effort was the second-highest percentage in UA history, to go along with his two TD throws and 360 yards. Eleven of his throws were grabbed by Juron Criner, who amassed 187 yards plus snagged a fade in the endzone, to put his name in the Arizona single-game top 10 for yards (and again for game catches). The Cats had a bit of inconsistency running the ball (105 yards, albeit at a solid 4.2 yards per tote), so they didn't persist, instead turning to their multi-faceted passing game. Ten different receivers ended up in the stats. Meantime, the Cats played some wicked defense, holding Toledo to 183 net yards and zero offensive points. The two points the Rockets did score came when a holding penalty in the endzone turned a scramble for a first down by Scott into a safety in the second period. The Rockets managed 3.6 yards per play on only 51 tries and had only two forays into UA territory including a 1st-and-goal at the UA 8 yard-line that was turned back. UA had a gaudy 9.4 yards per pass attempt and 7.5 yards per play in building a 518-yard day on offense. Nic Grigsbyrushed eight times for 53 yards (6.6 ypc) and scored twice, once on a 36-yard double cut-back jaunt in the first half. Arizona's average scoring drive on six touchdown journeys was nine plays, 70 yards and 3:40 -- deliberate, economical and to the point.
The Coaches: Arizona - Rich Rodriguez(West Virginia '86), first year at Arizona (0-0) and 18th as a head coach overall (120-84-2). Rodriguez was introduced as the 30th head coach of the UA football program on Nov. 22, 2011. He carries a career college coaching record of 120-84-2 in 18 seasons, marked by Division I records of 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. Toledo - Matt Campbell (Mount Union `02), first full year at Toledo (1-0) and first full year overall. Campbell led the Rockets to a 42-41 victory over Air Force in the 2011 Military Bowl, just 16 days after being named the head coach following the departure of Tim Beckman, now at Illinois. Campbell spent the previous three seasons as the Rockets' offensive coordinator and line coach. Prior to his service at UT, Campbell served as an assistant coach at Bowling Green for two seasons.
Series Quick Hits: The Wildcats and Rockets have met on three previous occasions, with the Wildcats claiming victory in each contest ... Most recently, UA opened the 2010 season with a 41-2 rout at the Glass Bowl ... The first two meetings were held in Tucson at Arizona Stadium, with the Cats prevailing 23-10 in 1985 and 41-16 in 2008 ... UA has outscored Toledo a combined 105-28 in the three games ... The game will be UA's seventh all-time against current Mid American Conference schools ... UA has previously defeated Toledo three times, and Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan once apiece (6-0 combined).
For Openers: Arizona is 78-25-5 all-time in the first game of the season, winning four consecutive and 10 of the last 12 ...The Cats open the season at home for the fourth time in the last five seasons (opened at Toledo in 2010) ... UA is 13-0 since its last season-opening defeat in Arizona Stadium, which was a 15-14 decision against Iowa on Sept. 12, 1987 ... UA has given up a grand total of 18 points over the last four season openers (4.5 ppg). The Cats have outscored those foes 171-18 over the four games.
New Eras: Saturday will mark the dawn of a new era for both schools. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguezenters his initial campaign on the sidelines for the Wildcats, while his counterpart, Matt Campbell, embarks on his first full season as a head coach at Toledo. The Wildcats will also welcome their new school president, Dr. Ann Weaver Hart, to her first Arizona football game in the new role. Dr. Hart began her tenure in Tucson back in July, after serving as president at Temple University since July 2006.
Head Coaching Debuts: Rich Rodriguez looks to continue a modest two-game winning streak for Arizona football head coaches in their Wildcat debuts. Mike Stoops won his initial game, 21-3, over Northern Arizona in 2004. A few seasons earlier, John Mackovic guided the Wildcats to a 23-10 victory in 2001 at San Diego State. Otherwise, opening games have been tough for new football coaches in Tucson, evidenced by just one other win out of the last 10 UA coaching debuts. Dick Tomey (15-14 loss vs. Iowa in 1987), Larry Smith (15-13 loss vs. Colorado State in 1980) and Tony Mason (21-10 loss at Auburn in 1977) dropped their first games as UA head coaches. Jim Young's 31-0 shutout at Colorado State in 1973 is the only other win out of the last 10 UA coaching debuts (interim coaches excluded). Otherwise, Bob Weber (lost 23-7 at Wyoming in 1969),Darrell Mudra (lost 36-17 to Wyoming in 1967) and Jim LaRue (lost 18-14 to BYU in 1959) also fell short in their first game on the sidelines. Ed Doherty led the 1957 Wildcats to a 14-14 tie against BYU, resulting in a 3-6-1 record for ball coaches in their first games.
Arizona Under First Year Head Coaches: The Wildcats' 29 previous head coaches have enjoyed a fair share of highs and lows during the first season of their tenure at UA. The men who preceded Rodriguez went a combined 103-110-8 in their first seasons and own a 16-10-2 record in the first game they coached. College Football Hall of Fame member Jim Young is the last UA head coach to post a winning season in his first year, going 8-3 in 1973; however, Dick Tomey, UA's all-time coaching wins leader, broke even at 4-4-3 in his first year in 1987.
Labor Day Weekend: The Labor Day weekend has been kind to UA football over the years when the Wildcats play at home. Since the college football season began opening on (or before) Labor Day weekend back in 1983, the Wildcats have played 14 home games on the holiday weekend. UA's record in those contests is 13-1, including 12 straight wins dating back to 1985 (only loss was to Fresno State in 1984). More impressive, though, is the fact that the Cats have outscored opponents 474-99 over the 14 games. Additionally, UA has allowed an opponent to score double-digit points just three in those games (27 to Fresno St. in 1984, 13 to BYU in 2006 and 10 to NAU in 2011). Traditionally the holiday weekend has resulted in a lower attendance figure since many local families have used the time for one final summer vacation. But since 2004, the Wildcats have averaged just under 52,000 fans at the five Labor Day weekend games, a nice increase over the school's 46,506 average mark in the 14 such games.
September Starts: The opening month often times sets the tone for the rest of the season, and that has held true for the Cats in recent years. The 2011 campaign began with a 1-3 month of September en route to a 4-8 final record. In the three prior seasons, UA posted a combined 10-2 record en route to three consecutive bowl berths. This year, UA will try to benefit from four home games out of five total contests in the opening month. Rich Rodriguez boasts an impressive 31-7 (.816) record in the month of September in his 10 previous seasons as a head coach of FBS programs at West Virginia and Michigan. His teams have gone to bowl games in seven of those years, including two BCS berths.
Home Cookin': Arizona will host eight home games at Arizona Stadium, which is undergoing one of its most significant refurbishment phases in its 84-year history. The Wildcats have not hosted eight home games in a season since 1988, when the squad won five home contests in a 7-4 campaign. Arizona is 21-11 at home over the last five seasons.
Matt's The Man: Matt Scott, a senior a year ago who sat to utilize his redshirt season, enters his fifth season at Arizona as the undisputed starting quarterback. A native of Corona, Calif., Scott has played in 22 games and made five starts for the Wildcats over the years. As a true freshman backup to Willie Tuitama in 2008, Scott saw action in six games. The following year he battled current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and won the starting job out of camp. Scott started the first three games of that `09 season, winning two of three contests. Foles earned the start in the fourth game and never relinquished the starting role, though Scott saw action in nine of the games. Scott was the backup again in 2010, but a knee injury sidelined Foles for the better part of three games, and Scott was nearly flawless in his place. Scott came off the bench to guide the Cats to a 24-7 win at Washington State, then engineered 500-plus yard offensive outputs in wins against Washington (44-14) and on the road at UCLA (29-21). Those were the fourth and fifth starts of his career, which is the tally he enters the 2012 campaign with. Here's a look at Scotts year-by-year stats:
Building for the Future: The Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, scheduled to open in August 2013, marks a dynamic shift in the Arizona football culture as it will become the centerpiece of the program on the north end of Arizona Stadium. Supported by private funds, including significant leadership gifts from David and Edith Lowell and from Jeff and Sharon Stevens, the $72.3 million project will provide the Wildcats with one of the premier football facilities in the nation. The facility will be a four-floor operations center with strength training, sports-medicine, coaches offices, locker rooms, meeting rooms, equipment and facility service areas. The structure will enclose the north end of the stadium and create a full bowl with nearly 4,000 premium spectator seats, including a donor lounge with outdoor seating. Additionally, stairways and elevator towers for the concourse will connect the structure to the existing east and west stadium sections. Restrooms, amenity areas and a cafeteria will also serve the campus community. Arizona Stadium has an official capacity of 51,811 for this season, but once work is completed on the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, the venue will near the some 57,000 seats it has held in recent years.
Starting Point: For a team that must replace its all-time leading passer, career receiving touchdowns leader, starting running back, top four receivers, two starting linebackers and two starting defensive ends, the Wildcats actually have a great deal of experience on their 2012 roster. Consider that 31 players on the roster have started a game for the Wildcats. All added up, its 182 career starts, with the offensive line responsible for 59 of those. Offensively, running back Ka'Deem Carey and tackle Lene Maiava are in search of their first starts, which could come early this season. Defensively, returnees Dominique Austin (DE), Derrick Rainey (CB) and Jared Tevis (Bandit) are contending for their first starting nods.
Welcome Back(er), Jake: After missing all of last season recovering from an ACL injury sustained in April 2011, linebacker Jake Fischer returns as one of the leaders of Jeff Casteel's new 3-3-5 defense. Fischer, a projected starter last fall, has worked hard to get back on the field, and his return to game action will be a reward for countless hours of rehab and training since his last game played - the 2010 Alamo Bowl, where he had six tackles against Oklahoma State. His work ethic, football IQ and willingness to be coached has allowed him to quickly adapt to a new system. He enters this season trying to surpass the 58 tackles (7.5 for loss) and two sacks he amassed in 2010.
It's Their Time: The Wildcats lost four of their top five receivers from a season ago as Juron Criner, David Douglas, Gino Crump and David Roberts combined for 2,645 receiving yards. The cupboard isn't bare at the wideout positions, however. Returnees Dan Buckner, Austin Hill, Richard Morrison and Terrence Miller combined for 1,254 yards of their own. All except Morrison have a 100-yard game to his credit, proving the pieces are in place for big plays in the passing game once again. It remains to be seen how much the focus will shift to the running game in Rich Rodriguez's system.
Getting Defensive: Rich Rodriguez brought with him defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, who stayed at West Virginia when the former moved on to Michigan in 2008. Casteel was defensive coordinator of the Mountaineers from 2003-2011, the architect of a 3-3-5 defense that produced some sterling results. Casteel's units were No. 4 nationally in turnover margin in 2003; No. 7 nationally in turnover margin and No. 15 in total defense in 2005; best in the Big East and No. 13 nationally in rushing defense and 25th in turnover margin in 2006; No. 7 in total defense, No. 8 in scoring defense, No. 9 in turnover margin and top-20 marks in sacks and rushing defense in 2007; No. 11 in scoring defense and top-20 marks in turnover margin and pass efficiency defense in 2008; and No. 3 nationally in total defense in 2010.
New Look Defense: Wildcat fans may do a double-take when they see the UA defense take the field for the first time this season. Coordinator Jeff Casteel will unveil his 3-3-5 defense which he mastered in recent years at West Virginia. It's a distinct departure from the 4-3 defense implemented by Mike Stoops and Co. from 2004-11. Sure Stoops' teams, like most, utilized nickel and dime packages in passing situations, but the base featured four down linemen in most all packages. Prior to Stoops' arrival, the Wildcats dabbled with a 3-4 scheme under defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitzin 2003, when he eventually became the interim head coach. The previous decade (1992-2002) saw the Wildcats line up in the double-eagle flex, made famous by Tedy Bruschi and other notables in the mid-90s under head coach Dick Tomey (1987-2000) and coordinator Larry MacDuff. Tomey's initial squads often played a "bear" front - or `50' defense - with five down linemen, before tweaking the system to the double-eagle flex in 1992. Tomey's predecessor, Larry Smith, installed a 3-4 scheme throughout his tenure from 1980-86. In his first season, Smith realigned the incumbent `50' defense by renaming the defensive ends as linebackers to produce the 3-4 system.
In The Trenches: A far cry from this time a year ago, the Wildcats are sanguine about the continuity and cohesiveness along the offensive line entering the 2012 campaign. When Arizona opened the 2011 season, center Kyle Quinn was the only offensive lineman on the roster with starting experience, all gained in his one and only career start in the 2010 Alamo Bowl. Otherwise the Wildcats were counting on reserves with limited game experience at the guard spots, and redshirt freshmen at the tackles. Now Quinn, a senior leader, and his fellow linemen return a full year of starting experience. Guard Trace Biskin earned starts at right guard in the final 10 contests last season, while Chris Putton started nine games at left guard and Shane Zink filled in three times at either guard spot. Bookends Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele started all 12 games at left and right tackle, respectively. It all adds up to 59 career starts returning along the O-Line. All significant backups on the two-deep return as well, plus a highly talented redshirt freshmen tackle in Lene Maiava and some promising true freshmen. To boot, line coach Robert Anae returns - the only member of the 2011 coaching staff that Rich Rodriguezre-hired.
Graduates: Kudos to offensive linemen Kyle Quinn and Trace Biskin, who each earned their degrees from The University of Arizona last spring. The two completed their undergraduate work in four years, and both begin their final season in the program as fifth-year seniors. Quinn, a 13-game starter at center in his career, graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and is now enrolled in graduate school, exploring a master's degree in educational leadership. Biskin, a 10-game starter at right guard, graduated with a degree in political science and is now enrolled in UA's graduate program, studying international security.
Shaq Is Back: Junior CB Shaquille Richardson returns as UA's interception leader after snaring four picks a season ago, which was tied for the most by any player in the conference. A 13-game starter in his career, Richardson has six interceptions total interceptions, 76 tackles, 12 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Fellow defenders Jourdon Grandon, Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Marquis Flowers and Mark Watley each intercepted a pass a year ago, adding up to nine of the team's 11 picks from 2011. They are hoping for more in 2012.
Where Are They? Arizona will deploy assistant coaches Calvin Magee (co-offensive coordinator, RB coach), Rod Smith (co-offensive coordinator, QBs coach), Bill Kirelawich (DL coach) and Tony Gibson (safeties, defensive special teams) to the press box on game days. That leaves Jeff Casteel (defensive coordinator, LB coach), Spencer Leftwich (TE coach, offensive special teams), David Lockwood (CB coach), Tony Dews (WR coach) and Robert Anae (OL coach) on the sidelines with head coach Rich Rodriguez.
New Faces: A new era of Wildcat football will include the potential contributions of up to a dozen true freshmen, most on the defensive side of the ball. Some immediate help could be needed at linebacker, where Keoni Bush-Loo, C.J. Dozier and Shadow Williams earned significant reps all through camp. In the secondary, Jamar Allah, Wayne Capers Jr., Will Parks, Brian Harper, and Yamen Sanders could see time as backups and/or on special teams. Kyle Kelley has pushed for time up front in the defensive end rotation. Offensively, running back J.T. Washington and lineman Cayman Bundage and third-team quarterback Javelle Allen will also appear on the two-deep. Of course, others could continue to emerge with continued development.
Youthful Experience: Arizona's front-line secondary features five guys that have seen significant game action early in their Wildcat careers, but their responsibilities and workload will surely increase in 2012. Junior CB Shaquille Richardson is a 13-game starter in his two seasons, including 10 last year. The corner position opposite Richardson will be held down by Jonathan McKnight, younger brother of New York Jets running back Joe McKnight. The Wildcat corner missed all of 2011 with an ACL injury, but played as a reserve in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2010. Tra'Mayne Bondurant, who figures to fill the "Spur" role, started the final six games of his true freshman season last fall. Jourdon Grandon, who played both safety and corner as a redshirt freshman last season, has four career starts and is the likely starter at free safety. The "Bandit" position should be filled by Jared Tevis, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship after spring ball. Tevis saw time in most games a year ago on special teams units, but has yet to start a game.
Flip-Flopping: Several Wildcats have changed positions for the Wildcats since the start of fall camp to fill needs at various spots, though senior Taimi Tutogi has simply added a position to his duties. A RB/FB/TE throughout his career, Tutogi figures to start at FB for the UA offense this season with an increased role in the running game. But the 6-foot-1, 260-pounder will also put his hand down to rush the passer for the defense on third down passing situations. His burst and low center of gravity give him an edge in the pass-rush compared to some of the squad's taller ends/tackles. Tutogi isn't the only new face on defense: freshman Keoni Bush-Loo entered camp as a TE/FB, but has moved full-time to linebacker. So, too, has fifth-year contributor Greg Nwoko, a former running back with 543 yards and six scores on his résumé. In the secondary, redshirt freshman Patrick Onwuasormoves over to a safety spot after a year-plus as a receiver.
Kicking Game: Arizona opens the season with stability and promise in the kicking game, as punter Kyle Dugandzic and kicker John Bonano return for their senior campaigns. Dugandzic punted 40 times for 1,840 yards (46.0 average, tops in the Pac-12) last year, but the unit as a whole struggled with 33.8-yard net average, doomed by three blocked punts. Meanwhile, UA's placekicking unit was inconsistent at best a year ago (10-for-18 FGs, 5 missed PATs), as the Wildcats tried three different placekickers. Lucky No. 3 turned out to be Bonano, who solidified the role in the second half of the season. Previously a kickoff specialist, Bonano was a perfect 24-for-24 on his PAT tries, connected at a steady 8-of-12 rate on field goals (long of 47-yards) and booted 22 touchbacks on kickoffs in 2011.
Carey The Load: Running back Ka'Deem Carey returns for his sophomore campaign after leading the Wildcats in rushing touchdowns a year ago with six scores. As a true freshman, Carey saw significant playing time and rushed for 425 yards on 91 totes behind since-departed Keola Antolin, who led the club with 568 rushing yards. Carey averaged 4.7 yards per attempt, a click or two better than Antolin's 4.5 clip. Carey's breakout performance was last October in the Coliseum against USC, when he scored two rushing touchdowns and added a 27-yard reception for three total scores against the Trojans. He twice led the team in rushing last year, including in the Territorial Cup victory over Arizona State in which he gained a career-best 92 markers to go with one touchdown.
Loaded Backfield: Perhaps Arizona's deepest position is at running back, which may surprise some considering the Cats ranked 11th in the Pac-12 and their leading rusher - Keola Antolin - exhausted his eligibility following a steady career. However, the trio of Ka'Deem Carey, Daniel Jenkins and Kylan Butler combined for 637 yards and an efficient 4.98 yards per carry as backups in 2011. Now they are front and center in Rich Rodriguez's multiple spread, which could lean more towards the run rather than the pass. So, too, is bruiser Taimi Tutogi who figures to get more touches. Look for true freshman J.T. Washington and redshirt freshman Jared Baker to add even more depth. Oh, and UA's quarterback - Matt Scott - has 632 yards on 99 carries (6.38 ypc) in his career.
Captains: Head coach Rich Rodriguezwill designate game captains throughout the season on a weekly basis. Captains will be named following Thursday practices each game week during the season.
Up Next: Arizona continues its opening stretch of three straight home games when it welcomes No. 19 Oklahoma State to Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 8. The game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks beginning at 7:30 p.m. MST.