Cats Get Needed Week Off
Sept. 27, 2009
TUCSON--The Arizona Wildcats, 3-1 with one game left on a rough early-season three-game road swing, get a needed week off with a bye on Oct. 3.
UA is fresh off its 37-32 victory at Oregon State Saturday evening, but actually isn't too fresh at all. The Cats took down the Beavers with a number of key players sidelined, and hopefully will use the 13 days off to get some of those guys back.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski (lost for the season with a back injury), defensive end Brooks Reed (ankle), left tackle Mike Diaz (concussion) and slot receiver Bug Wright (knee) missed starts in Corvallis. In the game, running backs Nic Grigsby (shoulder) and Keola Antolin (ankle) were knocked out of action. A number of other guys, including defensive tackle Donald Horton, had been slowed during the week by nagging injuries.
But UA's depth proved effective. Gronkowki and Wright didn't make the trip and Reed was in street clothes. Phillip Garcia got his first start at OT to fill in for Diaz, who played a bit in a supporting role. UA shifted its defensive front with Donald Horton sliding out to Reed's spot and Lolomana Mikaele getting his first 2009 start inside at tackle. The receiving corps saw step-up performances by Dvid Roberts, David Douglas and others, and so-called third-string RB Greg Nwoko led all Cats with 120 all-purpose yards.
First-time quarterback starter Nick Foles had a breakout day. The 6-foot-5 sophomore completed 25 of 34 passes (74%) for 254 yards and three touchdowns, plus rushed for another and was not intercepted. The Cats' line protected him without giving up a sack. His first-start pass efficiency rating: 165.40, good enough to help push him to No. 19 nationally at 156.89 very early in his career.
Stoops in the locker room after OSU victory
Notes......Arizona is likely to take Monday off and practice Tuesday through Thursday before a couple of off days over the weekend... Nwoko, a redshirt freshman, rushed nine times for 44 yards and a score, plus added a team-high 76 yards on four receptions... Junior punter Keenyn Crier punted five times, with three of them game-critical knocks inside the OSU 5-yard line in the second half... Arizona and OSU combined for 53 first downs, with the Beavs holding a 28-25 edge. But UA averaged 4.1 yards per rush and held the ball for 10 minutes in the third quarter to regain the lead and build an eventual 31- to 28-minute edge in ball control... Another good sign for Arizona was its 5-for-5 touchdown performance in the red zone, an area that had been shortchanged in the first three games... Sophomore cornerback Trevin Wade had his fourth interception of the year and eighth in 17 career games, while his teammate on the opposite side, Devin Ross, had a key fourth-quarter INT to help keep Arizona in the lead... Ricky Elmore and Earl Mitchell each had two sacks, including Mitchell's shared safety (with D'Aundre Reed) against OSU quarterback Sean Canfield late in the game. The last four OSU plays covering three possesions went like this: Ross' interception, the safety by Mitchell and Reed, another sack by Mitchell and a game-ending sack by Elmore... Vuna Tuihalamaka and Ross each had 12 tackles to lead the squad, with Wade chipping in 10, but down linemen contributed 18 hits... The UA enters the off week rated 13th nationally in rushing at 223 yards per game, but Foles' passing helped keep the total offense per-game figure above the 400 level at 412 ypg (38th nationally)... UA's pass protection was solid, giving up no sacks. That helped push the club to 13th in the country in sacks allowed at .75 per game. Meantime the five sacks against OSU helped UA move to 17th nationally with 2.75 of those big plays per game... Wade moved into a tie for second in the FBS with his 1.0 INTs per contest, plus added a PBU in the game... Elmore's 4.5 sacks on the year pushed him into the nation's top 10 at 1.12 per contest...