Cats Shift Focus to Toledo

Sept. 1, 2008

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Opponent: Toledo

Kickoff: 7:07 p.m.

Site: Tucson, Ariz. - Arizona Stadium (57,400)


First Meeting: Sept. 7, 1985 (UA 23, UT 10)
Last Meeting: Sept. 7, 1985 (UA 23, UT 10)
All-Time Series Record: UA leads, 1-0

and Arizona -  Fast Facts

Toledo and Arizona – 1985 Flashback

Arizona’s special teams provided the big plays as the Wildcats battled for a 23-10 season-opening victory before 44,691 fans in Arizona Stadium. Chuck Cecil tackled UT’s punter on the 1-yard line to set up a touchdown and the Cats used a punt block by Brent Wood to set up a field goal. Tailback David Adams ran for 99 yards and fullback Chris Webb scored both UA touchdowns. Max Zendejas kicked three field goals. Toledo was held to 29 net yards rushing on 23 carries and was out-gained 347-210 by the host Wildcats. UA dominated the time of possession by a 36:44 – 23:16 margin.


Some Game Themes:  Everything gets jacked up several notches for UA as a 15-returning-starters Toledo club with some All-MAC talent visits Arizona Stadium... The Cats get to see if the scoring outburst in the opener was an anomaly. The capability to put points on the board was throught to be part of the club's 2008 makeup, but 70 points in the opener might have exceeded expectations a bit... UA has some teaching aids on tape, while the Rockets arrive for their season opener... What will the Cats scheme? The run-pass balance they showed against Idaho or more of the spread passing attack said to be the club's bread and butter?... Toledo's defensive lineup is rejuvenated by the return of some '06 veterans who missed last year with injury... UA works to keep UT's record against Pac-10 squads all on the right side of the ledger (0-3), although the most recent such game for Rockets was 17 seasons ago against Washington's '91 juggernaut... A match of a couple of frequently demonstrative head coaches in UA's Mike Stoops and UT's Tom Amstutz, two boys who grew up three hours apart in Ohio... A match of two teams dotted with underclassmen among the top units...


Last Week: Arizona put itself in some select ratings -- leading the nation in scoring, for one -- in waiting out a lightning delay and then going out with some bolts of its own to blast past Idaho, 70-0, to open the season with a convincing shutout. UA had eight offensive players score nine touchdowns and added another in the return game to post its third-highest point total in history. The one-hour storm delay just as the ball was about to be whistled into play did nothing to cool the Cats, whose 49 first-half points were a school record. Arizona rushed for 265 yards, passed for a cool 256 on 74 percent throwing and averaged a chunky 6.5 yards on its 80 plays. Meantime, the defense held the Vandals to a net total of 112 yards, its lowest opponent figure since 2006. The Wildcats were more than efficient, scoring nine touchdowns in nine red-zone chances, their best since that meaningful measurement became part of the football lexicon. Quarterback Willie Tuitama completed 17 of 21 throws (81 percent) for a modest 179 yards, connecting for three scores. Sophomore running back Nic Grigsby ran down hill for his second-best total of 169 yards on 19 totes -- a whopping 8.9 yards per carrry -- and scored twice. Four receivers had TD grabs -- Mike Thomas, Terrell Turner and career-firsts by H-back Chris Gronkowski and juco transfer back Nick Booth. True freshman QB Matt Scott got his feet wet -- and not just from the rain. He hit six of 10 passes for 77 yards and a score, plus rushed eight times for 48 yards and a score. Thomas muffed a punt with a minute left in the first quarter, and blocker Marquis Hundley (cornerback otherwise) picked it up and weaved his way 87 yards for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman CB Trevin Wade, a backup, picked off a pair of passes and added 69 yards afterward. Backup safety Joe Perkins picked another an ran it back 42 yards. Senior safety Nate Ness snagged another interception and the Cats had a fumble recovery by redshirt backup defensive end Apaiata Tuihalamaka to make it +5 in the turnover category to put Arizona up there in another national statistical category. The defense smothered Idaho's passing game, holding the Vandals to 48 yards through the air. Arizona played nearly its entire dress squad, with the 'twos' and reserves logging much of the second half. Those guys held Idaho to 36 yards in that segment, one reason the Cats piled up a 36- to 24-minute edge in time of possession.


Quick Strike: Arizona scored six touchdowns against Idaho with offensive drives consuming four plays or less and less than two minutes off the clock. Three of those were field-position sudden-change goods thanks to interceptions inside the UI 30 yard-line. The Cats' opening drive of 11 plays and 80 yards in 4:25 was the granddaddy of the game, although UA did have a 14-play, 50-yard drive that took just more than seven minutes, but ended with a punt in the third quarter.


Sudden-Change: Speaking of turnovers, UA's four interceptions led to four touchdowns, plus its fifth takeaway (fumble recovery) benefited in the game-ending take-a-knee possession. No question the 28 points off picks was a huge factor, notably in terms of continued and sustained momentum.


Sub-200: Arizona's defensive effort against Idaho was the seventh time in the last 11 seasons that the Cats have held a club under 200 yards. Most recently in 2006 UA had a superlative effort at Stanford and held the Cardinal to 32 plays and a total of 52 yards, the Cats' Pac-10 -game record. That season UA held Stephen F. Austin to 50 plays and 196 yards. In 2005 Arizona held Stanford to 58-195. In 2000 the Cats held San Diego State to 66-196. In 1998, the 12-1 team held Oregon State to 54-167 and Hawaii to 60-176.


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 – 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.


There’s a First Time For Everything: Season openers offer new players the opportunity to set career “firsts” as they record their first collegiate statistics. Here’s some notable “firsts” for UA players last week:


-          Marquis Hundley scored his first career touchdown (87 fumble return on a punt return)

-          Chris Gronkowski caught his first pass – and first TD catch – in the second quarter (12-yard TD catch)

-          Keola Antolin plunged his way into the endzone for his first rushing TD (3-yard TD run)

-          Matt Scott used his nifty running ability to score his first TD (5-yard TD run)

-          Nick Booth caught his first pass – and first TD catch – in the fourth quarter (7-yard TD catch)

-          Xavier Smith, a junior, celebrated his first rushing TD in the fourth quarter (1-yard TD run)

-          Juron Criner, a true freshman, made his first career start at wide receiver

-          Bug Wright hauled in his first career catch in the third quarter (26-yards)

-          Trevin Wade snared his first career interception in the third quarter (62-yard return)

-          David Roberts caught his first pass in the fourth quarter (8-yard grab)

-          David Douglas caught his first pass in the fourth quarter (20-yard reception)

-          Joe Perkins intercepted his first pass in the fourth quarter (42-yard return)

-          Alex Zendejas connected on his first two PAT attempts, boomed his first career punt 51 yards and took his first kickoff (57 yards).


Ground Attack: Arizona has had 35 or more points six times in the Mike Stoops era including last week, so it's not surprising the 35 points off five rushing touchdowns against Idaho is a tenure high. The multiple spread used all -- well, not exactly -- its nuances against the Vandals, but kept at the rushing game, sending ball carriers into the fray 49 times compared to a total of 31 passes. That persistence paid off handsomely. RB Nic Grigsby led the way with short bursts for 1- and 2-yard scores, while RB Keola Antolin added a 3-yard TD run, QB Matt Scott turned the corner for a 5-yard score and RB Xavier Smith scored his first career TD on a 1-yard plunge. Setting up the short yardage goal-line goods was the best part.


Red Hot Zone: Arizona scored nine touchdowns on nine penetrations inside the Red Zone against Idaho. Nice. That efficiency down where it counts was easily a program best. In fact, last year Arizona had a modest 18 touchdowns on 42 red-zone possessions (43%), although place kicking by Jason Bondzio netted another 13 RZ scores to push the scoring ratio to 74 percent overall. Still, punching it in on nine plays of 1, 5, 12, 2, 3, 3, 5, 7 and 1 yards is what it's all about when coaches speak of the red zone. The going will get considerably tougher this week and beyond, but the confidence factor of knowing how it's done will go a long way toward making Arizona a tougher competitor in short yardage.


PED: Pass efficiency defense. Thanks to four interceptions against Idaho, Arizona leads the nation in that category with opponents' 22.30 figure. In contrast, Willie Tuitama posted a 199.70 mark and Matt Scott checked in a 157.68 in the game. UA held the Vandals to a stunning 1.8 yards per attempt and less than 5 yards per its 10 completions for 48 total yards. This week UA will face an All-MAC candidate in Toledo QB Aaron Opelt and a stretch of other scary dudes thereafter, so don't expect the sub-100 action to be prevalent. But the start is a great one for an Arizona defense that lost four-year corners Antoine Cason and Wilrey Fontenot. Mike and brother Mark Stoops, defensive coordinator, felt the Cats' defense would be faster this year and hopefully the getting-to-the-ball showcase in the opener was testimony.


Don't Get Too Settled: Arizona's apparent offensive depth, with backups logging valuable PT, was a good thing because the Cats didn't get a large dose of sideline time last week. Idaho had no possession lasting more than seven plays, covering more than 26 yards, or taking more than 2:50 off the clock. In fact, only two possessions crossed mid field -- to the UA 37 yard-line in the early going and to the 45 near the end of the first half. The UA forced nine 3-and-outs (or less).


Among the Nation’s Best: After an impressive opening game, UA finds itself among the nation’s leaders in several statistical categories, as do a few Wildcats individually. While these numbers will be meaningless in subsequent weeks unless these numbers remain the benchmark (even as competition stiffens), its still fun to take a look:


Team Category (NCAA Rank)                              Individual Category (NCAA Rank)

Scoring Offense – 70 ppg (No. 1)             Trevin Wade      Interceptions – 2 (t-No.1)

Scoring Defense – 0 (No. 1)                                Willie Tuitama    Pass Efficiency – 199.7 (No. 7)

Pass Efficiency Defense – 22.3 (No. 1)                Nic Grigsby       Rushing – 169 yds (No. 8)

Sacks Allowed – 0 (t-No. 1)

Turnover Margin – (+5) (No. 2)

Pass Defense – 48 yds (No. 3)

Total Defense – 112 yds (No. 4)

Punt Returns – 24.67 yds (No. 9)

Pass Efficiency – 186.15 (No. 10)

Rushing Offense – 265 yds (No. 16)

Total Offense (No. 16)


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. No kidding. True freshman quarterback Matt Scott played much of the second half (6-for-10, 179, 1 TD, plus 8-48 rushing), injecting his open-field style behind starter Willie Tuitama's pro drop-back. Redshirt freshman QB Bryson Beirne got a couple of fourth quarter series to put his name in the books, if not the stats. True freshman receiver Juron Criner made his debut in the starting lineup as UA showcased five wide receivers on the opening play. Redshirt freshman cornerback Trevin Wade led the defense with two interceptions as a backup. True freshman running back Keola Antolin lines up as the primary kickoff returner, plus notched four totes for 11 yards in the backfield, including a TD. True freshman receiver David Douglas and redshirt freshmen receivers David Roberts and Bug Wright saw action. Bug underscored the nickname with 42 nifty yards on three snares. True freshman cornerback Robert Golden saw scrimmage action and had a tackle for loss. Junior one-time walk-on Chris Gronkowski earned solid time at H-back and caught his first career touchdown pass. Mid-year juco transfers Vuna Tuihalamaka (LB), Herman Hall (OL) and Mike Diaz (OL) played meaningful moments, as did linebacker Sterling Lewis (3 hits). Redshirt sophomore safety Joe Perkins returned an interception 42 yards to set up a score. True freshman offensive linemen Vaughn Dotsy played in the second half, as did true freshman defensive tackle Jowyn Ward and redshirt freshman DT Hans Philipp. Redshirt freshman kicker Alex Zendejas had three PATs, a kickoff and a punt (51 yards) to back up Jason Bondzio and Keenyn Crier, respectively. Redshirt freshman linebacker Apaiata Tuihalamaka, Vuna's cousin, had two tackles. Summer juco transfer safety Anthony Wilcox broke up a pass, while running back Nick Booth chipped in 19 yards rushing in his first appearance, and Lamonte Long played in the secondary. Senior walk-on linebacker Jeremy Samoy saw some fourth-quarter action in the middle of things when the Cats held Idaho to 22 yards in offense. Redshirt freshman receiver Joe Reese saw action. Backup junior guard Conan Amituanai saw his first scrimmage action, as did fellow line mate sophomore Jovon Hayes. Walk-on junior snappers Ricky Wolder and Jason Bertoni snapped a few on punts and placekicks, respectively. Redshirt freshman receiver Devin Veal got some routes. Walk-on junior defensive tackle Josh Lewis played in the middle. That's 30 guys new to the game.


‘O’ What a Start: At least that’s what the Wildcats are hoping to say before the start of Pac-10 play on Sept. 20 at UCLA. So far, the Cats have been able to dispatch the first of three ‘O’ opponents – Idaho. Now the challenge is Toledo and then New Mexico on Sept. 13.

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)

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 36 games and caught a pass in 35 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 (185) 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 (five 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.


All Guts, No Glory: One thing Arizona brings on its 10-returning-starters offense is a line with some game experience, but it’s a unit that is often overlooked in favor of the gaudy statistics produced by the spread offense when all cylinders are clicking. The guys up front are often the keys to making the system work and guard Joe Longacre (28), tackle Eben Britton (25), center Blake Kerley (25) and guard Colin Baxter (12) are a nice starting point. The left tackle spot, where departed Peter Graniello handled duties for 43 career starts, has been assumed by Adam Grant (1 start), who was plagued by injuries early in his career. The unit helped pave the way for 265 yards against Idaho – the 16th best output in the nation on the opening Saturday – and allowed no sacks.


Man in the Middle: Senior linebacker Ronnie Palmer is the only player on the UA defense with 3+ years of playing experience. Senior corner Marquis Hundley was a mid-year 2006 Juco transfer, as was senior safety Nate Ness. Palmer leads all defenders with 29 career starts, while junior safety Cam Nelson is next with 13 starts. Ness (7) and nickel back Corey Hall (6) are next in line. Junior tackle Earl Mitchell has 13 starts, but 12 of those came as an H-back on offense prior to his off-season switch to defensive tackle this year. No one else has more than two starts. Coaches aren’t worried, but it’s a different set of circumstances than the senior-laden unit from 2007 led by Antoine Cason, Spencer Larsen, Wilrey Fontenot, Dane Krogstad and Lionel Dotson.


Carry Over: For a second straight year, UA put together a three-game win streak against Pac-10 teams late in the year to restore bowl game hopes, only to drop finales’ to rival Arizona State and keep the Cats home for the holidays. In 2006, UA put together its first three-game win streak since 2001 while knocking off No. 25 Washing State, No. 8 California and Oregon. In 2007, the Wildcats rallied from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit at Washington before returning to Tucson to knock off UCLA on Homecoming and then upset No. 2 Oregon in front of a National TV audience for the first Thursday night game at Arizona Stadium since 1995. Unable to carry over the momentum created by a three-game streak last year, UA hopes it will be more successful in doing so this year and through the first week appears on track to do so.


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.


Offense Wins Games: While Head Coach Mike Stoops is known for his defensive prowess as a coach, he has realized the need for a high-scoring offense in the Pac-10. Arizona only needs to look back on its 2007 season to understand the importance of scoring points as the Wildcats were a perfect 5-0 when scoring more than 27 points in a game. Arizona failed to post more than 20 points in six of its seven losses, and mustered only 27 points at Cal in a 45-27 loss in September.


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).


Arizona’s Aerial Assault: Senior quarterback Willie Tuitama helped UA finish No. 10 nationally in passing by tossing for 3,683 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2007, among his school records. There is no reason he can’t continue the assault in 2008 and after one outing doesn’t look to have missed a beat. In only one half of action against Idaho, the senior slinger compiled 179 yards passing and three touchdowns while completing 17-of-21attempts (81 percent).


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 2008 Idaho game:



All Games (13)

Road Games (5 – Excludes UW)

Home Games (7)

Comp. - Attempts




Completion %




Passing Yards












Yards Per Game




Yards Per Completion




Yards Per Attempt





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 3,028 yards away from jumping 29 spots (currently No. 39 with 6,302 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 No. 33 all-time in touchdown passes with 47, he needs 20 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.


Money Mike in the Pac – 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 190 receptions in three-plus years, is only 69 catches away from becoming the Pac-10’s all-time receptions leader (Derek Hagen, ASU, 258). And while he currently stands at No. 37 in career receiving yards (2,434), a modest – by his standards – 704 more yards this season will move him into the top-10. Lastly, with six more touchdowns, he will find himself among the top-10 all-time leaders in receiving touchdowns (currently t-No. 27 with 20 TDs).


Bondzio, Jason Bondzio: The man with the gold finger, er, toe, for Arizona is senior kicker Bondzio. 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

Max Zendejas, 1983             20-25 FG, .800, 39-39 PAT



Gronk-WOW-ski: Sophomore tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the opener against Idaho with strep throat, wasted no time moving up the top performance charts in Arizona history at the tight end position. In his first season, he set the UA single-game receiving yardage record for a tight end with his 4-115 effort against WSU, becoming only the second UA tight end to rack up 100 yards in a single game (Mark Keel had the only other tight end 100-yard game with an even 3-100 effort vs. Stanford in 1982). Gronk totaled 525 yards on 28 snares last year to average a whopping 18.8 yards per reception. He looks to exceed the total catch and yardage numbers in 2008 with a year’s worth of experience in the offense and improved route-running abilities.


More Robbie: Although he has only played just 12 career games, Gronkowski is already statistically placing himself among the top TEs in school history. A look at what Gronk has done through 12 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-        28         525       6


G-Man Catches C-Farm: True freshman Nic Grigsby rushed for an Arizona freshman

school record 704 yards last season, tallying a solid 4.4 yards per carry figure (161 tries)

and scoring twice. Grigsby moved past former record holder Clarence Farmer’s prior

mark of 666 set in 2000. With a 124-yard performance against UCLA on Nov. 3, Grigsby joined Farmer and Ontiwaun Carter as Arizona's only true freshmen to have three 100-yard rushing games as first-year players. Carter ran for 606 yards on 113 carries in a rushing-dominated offense (528 runs, 198 passes) in 1991.


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.


Willie vs. NCAA Numbers:  Then junior quarterback Willie Tuitama set some Arizona records with 510 passing yards and 517 yards in total offense (third highest in Pac-10 history) at Washington last year. He completed 38 of 51 tosses, with one pick and five TDs. It gave him a 186.9 pass efficiency rating, almost within reach of the NCAA record of 199.2 (for a 50 attempts game) by Chris Redman of Louisville against East Carolina in 1998. Redman had six TDs, one interception and 592 yards, on 44-for-56. Willie could have pulled it off with one more TD throw, one more completion and no interception = 199.3.  Willie’s best PE for a game was 217.97 against Washington State, built with 22-for-31, 5 TDs, 346 yards and no picks. That was well under the NCAA record of 317.4 by Rob Gradowski of Toledo vs. Buffalo in 2003… In case you’re ever sitting around wondering what numbers would result in what efficiency rating, check this out: … Willie’s 43.7 passes per game in 2007 compared to the NCAA record of 58.5 by David Klingler of Houston in 1990. Willie tossed 524 in 12 games, while Klingler pitched 643 in 11 games… Had UA played in a league championship game (no such Pac-10 thing) and a bowl game in 2007, Tuitama might have tied the NCAA record  with 14 games of 200 yards or more passing… Willie’s three best yards-per-attempt games all were victories: 11.1 (31 attempts, 346 yards) against Washington State, 10.0 (51-510) at Washington and 9.7 (35-341) against UCLA., Not too hard to recognize that particular stat can be telling. For one thing, it fueled some serious scoring – 48, 48 and 34 points, respectively.


Where you at?: Arizona’s coaching Staff will have the following game day positions


Press Box

Sonny Dykes (offensive coordinator), Dana Dimel (tight ends/running backs), Matt Rice (offensive graduate assistant), Tim Kish (linebackers coach) and Frank Buffano (defensive graduate assistant).



Mike Stoops (head coach), Mark Stoops (defensive coordinator), Bill Bedenbaugh (offensive line), Michael Smith (inside receivers), Dave Nichol (outside receivers), Mike Tuiasosopo (defensive line) and Jeff Hammerschmidt (special teams).


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