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Arizona Faces First Road Trip at Washington

Nov 16, 2020

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TUCSON, Ariz. — The Arizona Wildcats (0-1, 0-1) journey to the Pacific Northwest to face the Washington Huskies (1-0, 1-0) on their first road trip of the season. The game is scheduled to kick off at 6:00 p.m. MST with a television broadcast on FOX.

The Wildcats opened the season at home last weekend, nearly stunning No. 20 USC at Arizona Stadium. Quarterback Grant Gunnell threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns and the Wildcats defense piled up eight tackles for loss in the narrow 34-30 defeat.

Washington also kicked off their 2020 campaign last weekend, taking down Oregon State at home by a final score of 27-21. Both Arizona (at Utah) and Washington (at California) had their originally scheduled season openers in week one canceled due to their opponents lack of available scholarship players.

A complete game preview can be found below.
ARIZONA NOTES & NUMBERS

  • The Wildcats will take to the road for the first time this season for Saturday's match-up at Husky Stadium. Arizona was scheduled to open its 2020 season at Utah on Saturday, Nov. 7, but that game was canceled at Utah's request due to an increase of COVID-19 cases on the Utes roster.
  • Arizona holds an all-time mark of 11-22-1 versus Washington in a series that began in 1978 when Arizona joined the Pac-10 Conference from the Western Athletic Conference. The series has been back-and-forth over the last 15 meetings, with Arizona winning seven times in that span.
  • QB Grant Gunnell is coming off a strong season-opening performance vs. No. 20 USC, which was the sophomore's fourth career start. Gunnell completed 24 of his 36 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns while adding 40 yards rushing. His trio of passing touchdowns were the second-most by a Wildcat in a conference opener since 2000.
  • Arizona's season opener against the Trojans also saw a career performance from kicker Lucas Havrisik, whose career-high three made fields goals came from distances of 25, 32, and 51 yards. The senior also neutralized the USC return unit by booting all seven of his kickoffs out of the back of the endzone for a touchback.
  •  The Wildcat offense showed its explosive nature against the Trojans with four offensive plays of 20+ yards, capped by Gunnell's 75-yard touchdown pass to Tayvian Cunningham. Arizona tallied a total of 12 offensive plays of 20 or more yards against Pac-12 defenses in 2019.
  • Redshirt senior DB Lorenzo Burns begins 2020 with nine career interceptions, putting him three shy of breaking into the programs all-time top 10 leaderboard. Burns is also just three pass breakups short of breaking into the Arizona top 10.

65.4 — Sophomore Grant Gunnell's career completion percentage entering Saturday's game is 65.4%. The quarterback has made nine career appearances with four starts and 191 career pass attempts. Gunnell also boasts 12 career passing touchdowns to just two interceptions.

11,516 — The Wildcats have rushed for 11,516 yards since 2016, the best mark in the Pac-12 Conference. Arizona has led the conference in rushing three times over that stretch, and are one of just two teams (also: Oregon) with a rushing total north of 11,000 in the last four-plus years.

70 — The Wildcats offensive line has amassed 70 career starts entering Saturday's game at Washington. Donovan Laie leads all Wildcat offensive linemen with 25 with Josh McCauley tallying 23 career starts. 

594/6 — Redshirt sophomore WR Jamarye Joiner has hauled in 594 career receiving yards and six career touchdowns since converting to wide receiver from quarterback just prior to fall camp in 2019. He led the Arizona WR corps in yards and touchdowns last season.

SOME GAME THEMES:

  • The Wildcats look to snap an eight-game losing skid that dates back to the 2019 season when facing Washington this Saturday.
  • Sophomore quarterback Grant Gunnell began his second collegiate campaign strong last weekend against No. 20 USC, completing 24-of-36 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns. His three touchdowns through the air tied his career high and were the second-most by an Arizona signal caller in a conference opener since the 2000 season.
  • Gunnell also showed off his running ability against No. 20 USC last weekend, picking up more rush yards by the end of the first quarter than he compiled in the entire 2019 season. He finished the game with 40 yards on 13 carries.
  • The Wildcats defense showed promise in their first game under first-year defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads. Arizona's front seven tallied 7.5 tackles for loss against the Trojans. The defense allowed only 145 yards in the first half, the fewest allowed in an opening half since holding this weekends opponent, Washington, to 134 yards in 2019.
  • Arizona's starting defense last week featured seven players making their Wildcat debuts: Kyon Barrs, Aaron Blackwell, Rourke Freeburg, Parker Henley, Roy Lopez, Rhedi Short, and Jaxen Turner.
  • After the Wildcats went six games in 2019 before recording a 100-yard receiver, they have now produced one in back-to-back games. Jamarye Joiner closed out the 2019 season with a 140-yard, two touchdown performance in the Territorial Cup and Tayvian Cunningham opened the 2020 campaign with a 110-yard, one touchdown game against No. 20 USC.
  • Senior running back Gary Brightwell served as the Wildcats primary rush option last weekend, going for 112 yards on 21 carries in the fourth 100-yard game of his career. His performance pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark for his career.

VERSUS WASHINGTON:

  • While the Wildcats have won four of the last 10 meetings with the Huskies, all four of those victories have come in Tucson. Arizona has not won in Seattle since its 48-41 victory on Oct. 27. Stanford is the only Pac-12 program where Arizona has not won more recently at.
  • Due to the two programs' separation by division, Saturday's game marks just the second meeting between the two teams in the last four seasons. In last year's meeting in Tucson, the Arizona running back tandem of Nathan Tilford and Michael Wiley set career marks against a Pac-12 foe with 49 and 35 rushing yards respectively.
  • Saturday's game at Husky Stadium is Arizona's second scheduled road game of the season, including the Cats' canceled season opener at Utah on Saturday Nov. 7. Arizona opens the 2020 season with three of its first four scheduled Pac-12 games on the road, which marks the Wildcats' most travel to open league play since 2013 when the team played four of its first five Pac-12 games on the road.

CHARTING THE CATS (CAREER):

  • Redshirt senior defensive back Lorenzo Burns has notched nine career interceptions in four seasons, putting him just three picks shy of breaking into the Wildcats all-time top 10 leaderboard.
  • Burns is also on the verge of cracking into Arizona's career top 10 in pass breakups. Through four years he has picked up 25 PBU, just three shy of tying Trevin Wade (2008-11) and Randy Robbins (1980-83) for 10th all-time.

ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY AIR: Arizona continues its 2020 season after two consecutive seasons as one of the top offenses in the Pac-12 Conference. The Wildcats are the only team in the Pac-12 to finish in the top three of the conference in rushing and passing yards per game in each of the last two seasons. Arizona offensive returners amassed 83 total starts a year ago.
 
Wildcats Offensive Ranks Under HC Kevin Sumlin

Year Pass Yds/GM Rush Yds/GM Total Offense/GM
2020 286.0 (3rd) 158.0 (8th) 440.0 (5th)
2019 266.1 (3rd) 174.0 (3rd) 440.1 (4th)
2018 255.2 (3rd) 202.4 (1st) 457.7 (1st)

BACK FOR MORE: The Arizona defense returns a core of experienced letterwinners, led by senior defensive back Lorenzo Burns who made his 36th career start versus USC to open the 2020 season. Burns is one of five Wildcats who started in eight or more games a season ago and enters week three of the season in a tie for the second most career starts by an active Pac-12 player. Burns, and his 36 career starts, are tied with ASU's Chase Lucas for second in the league behind Oregon's Jordon Scott's 39 career starts.

FAMILIAR FORCE: Junior offensive lineman Donovan Laie has started every game since arriving on campus as a true freshman in 2018. Arizona's season opener versus USC saw Laie make his 25th consecutive start, becoming the 15th Wildcat to achieve the feat since game-by-game starters began being tracked by Arizona in 1993.
 
Consecutive Starts by Arizona Offensive Linemen (1993-current)

Player Starts Years
Mickey Baucus 52 2011-14
Fabians Ebbele 52 2011-14
Collin Baxter 49 2007-10
Eben Britton 37 2006-08
Joe Longacre 36 2006-08
Keoki Fraser 34 2002-04
Peter Graniello 33 2005-07
Layth Friekh 33 2015-17
Bruce Wiggins 28 1998-2000
Blake Kerley 28 2006-08
Adam Grant 26 2009-10
Steven Gurrola 26 2013-14
Donovan Laie 25 2018 – present
Edwin Mulitalo 25 1997-98
Yusuf Scott 25 1997-98

GRANT LAND: Sophomore quarterback Grant Gunnell entered the 2020 season as the Wildcats clear-cut No. 1 signal caller after splitting time during his freshman campaign with Khalil Tate. Gunnell's collegiate debut came in blowout duty against Northern Arizona in week two of 2019; he threw for 151 yards and three touchdowns on 9-for-11 passing. His first career start came in game four, the Wildcat's Pac-12 opener against UCLA – in the game, Gunnell completed 29-of-44 pass attempts for 352 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions while leading Arizona to a 20-17 victory. His effort against UCLA earned him Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Week honors. He also saw playing time against Washington, at USC, at Stanford, against Oregon State, at Oregon, and against Utah. Outside of his start against UCLA, his most extended playing time came in a loss to Oregon State in which he completed 19-of-29 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns. When it was all said and done, Gunnell threw for 1,239 yards, nine touchdowns, and suffered just one interception on 101-of-155 passing in his freshman campaign. His 65.2% completion percentage ranks fourth all-time in Arizona program history with a minimum of 100 attempts and was the best ever effort by a freshman passer. Prior to the season, Gunnell was selected as one of five Arizona captains – he is the only underclassmen among the five captains.

IN A RUSH: Despite doing much of their damage through the air recently, Arizona's rushing attack still remains dangerous. The Wildcats finished the 2020 season third in the Pac-12 with an average of 174.0 yards per game on the ground. Prior to that, the Wildcats had strung together four consecutive years of averaging north of 200 yards per game rushing. Arizona's ability to run the ball often ties to the success of the team. Over the past five seasons, when the Wildcats have rushed for 200 or more yards, the team has posted a record of 26-11. In games where Arizona hasn't reached the 150-yard mark as a team, they are 6-18. The Wildcats have dominated the Pac-12 rushing scene since the start of the 2016 season and is one of only two programs to top 11,000 yards in that span (also: Oregon).
 
Total Rush Yards by Pac-12 Schools (2016-current)

School Yards
1. Arizona 11,516
2. Oregon 11,368
3. Utah 10,249
4. Washington 9,813
5. USC 8,687
6. Stanford 8,358
7. Arizona State 8,106
8. Colorado 8,232
9. Oregon State 7,986
10. California 7,168
11. UCLA 6,564
12. Washington State 4,668

I'M MR. BRIGHTWELL: After two years of serving the Wildcats as an effective backup running back, senior Gary Brightwell finally gets his time in the spotlight as Arizona's primary tailback in 2020. He opened the year with a 112-yard performance against No. 20 USC, giving him four career 100-yard rushing performances and putting him over the 1,000-yard career mark. During his time in Tucson, Brightwell has always been productive, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and 28.5 yards per game. His five touchdowns in 2019 were a career high after scoring three times during his sophomore years in 2018. Brightwell's biggest career game to date on the ground came against Northern Arizona last season, as he rushed for 141 yards on just five carries. Included in his NAU onslaught was a 94-yard rushing touchdown, the longest of his career and tied for the second-longest rush in school history (also: Nic Grigsby, 2009, NAU). The next week against Texas Tech, Brightwell posted his first career multi-score game after going for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. He also scored twice against Oregon State, with one of his touchdowns coming through the air for his first career receiving touchdown.
 
Gary Brightwell 100-yard performances

Date Opponent Yards Yds/Att
11/14/20 USC 112 5.3
09/07/19 Northern Arizona 141 28.2
10/20/18 at UCLA 121 8.1
09/22/18 at Oregon State 113 8.7


INSTANT IMPACT:
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jamarye Joiner impressed for the Wildcats in 2019, ultimately leading the receiver corp with 552 yards and five touchdowns through the air in his first go-around at the position. The Tucson native and Cienega High School product joined the Wildcats in 2018 as a quarterback and made the transition to wide receiver during Arizona's 2019 fall camp. In his first collegiate action at wideout against Hawai'i in week one of 2019, Joiner pulled in four receptions for 72 yards and his first career receiving touchdown. His best outing of last year came at Arizona State in the Territorial Cup, in which he pulled in career highs in receptions (7), yards (140), and touchdowns (2). His 140 yards against the Sun Devils were the most by an Arizona receiver since Cayleb Jones had 182 versus New Mexico in 2015. Joiner also reeled in touchdowns against Washington and Stanford last year. Joiner immediately impacted the Wildcats again in 2020, wasting no time and pulling in two receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown, the sixth of his career.

THE PANDY MAN CAN: Senior linebacker Anthony Pandy steps into a leadership role for the Wildcats defense in 2020 after three years of steady improvement. He is expected to serve as Arizona's primary "Will" inside linebacker in first-year defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads' new base 3-4 scheme. During his three-plus-year career to date, Pandy has tallied 108 total tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, four sacks, and one interception. The best season of his career came in 2019, his junior campaign, during which he collected 66 tackles, five tackles for loss, and two sacks while playing in all 12 games. Pandy's 66 tackles in 2019 are the most among all of Arizona's returning defensive players. The best tackling performance of his career came against Utah last season – in a home game against the Utes in 2019, Pandy notched a career-high 11 tackles.

ZO SAYS NO: Redshirt senior defensive back Lorenzo Burns is the Wildcats most experience secondary player, having seen time in 38 games with 36 starts since 2016. Last season he was named the Wildcats Team Defensive MVP and earned Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention recognition after tallying 47 tackles, four interceptions, and seven pass breakups across 12 starts at cornerback. Burns' four interceptions led the team and were tied for the most by a single Pac-12 player. He currently boasts nine career interceptions, putting him three shy of breaking into the programs all-time top 10 leaderboard. Burns is also just three pass breakups short of breaking into the Arizona top 10.
 
Arizona Career Pass Breakups Leaderboard

Player (Pos.) PBU Years
10. Trevin Wade (CB) 28 2008-11
Randy Robbins (S) 28 1980-83
12. Chris McAlister (CB) 27 1996-98
Kelvin Hunter (CB) 27 1996-99
14. James DeBow (S) 26 1985-88
15. Lorenzo Burns (CB) 25 2016-current
Jonathan McKnight (CB) 25 2011-14
17. Marton Rudolph (CB) 24 1984-86

NEW ROLE, SAME JALEN: Redshirt junior linebacker Jalen Harris is making the transition from a "hand in the ground" pass rush specialist to full-time outside linebacker under Arizona's new defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads. He is the Wildcats leading returner in both tackles for loss (6.5) and sacks (4.0). During three-plus seasons and 29 games in the cardinal and navy, Harris has compiled 62 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, and one forced fumble. Harris played in all 12 of the Wildcats games in 2019 with eight starts on the defensive line and notched multiple tackles in seven different games. He began thriving instantly in his new role in 2020, posting career-best marks in tackles (6) and tackles for loss (2.0) in the Wildcats season opener against USC.

SPEED KILLS: Senior wide receiver Tayvian Cunningham has put his wheels to good use in Tucson, establishing himself as the primary speed threat among the Wildcats talented receiving corps. He transferred to Arizona after two years at Sacramento City College, where he competed in both football and track. In 2019 Cunningham hauled in 35 receptions for 383 yards and two touchdowns – he also saw time in five indoor meets with Arizona Track, posting a personal-record time of 6.81 seconds in the 60-meter dash and a 21.19 second mark in the 200-meter. He came out of the gates strong in 2020, leading the Cats with 110 yards (on five catches) against No. 20 USC – a large chunk of his yards came on a 75-yard scoring catch from Grant Gunnell.