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Arizona Returns Home to Host Colorado

Nov 30, 2020

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TUCSON, Ariz. — The Arizona Wildcats (0-3, 0-3 Pac-12) will host the Colorado Buffaloes (3-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at Arizona Stadium this Saturday, Dec. 5. Kickoff is slated for 5:00 p.m. MST with a television broadcast on FS1.

The Wildcats will seek to extend their win streak over the Buffaloes to four straight after winning the previous three matchups. Arizona has only lost to Colorado once in Tucson since the Pac-10 expanded to become the Pac-12.

The Buffaloes, led by first-year head coach Karl Dorrell, have yet to lose this season and most recently took a 20-10 decision over San Diego State in Boulder.

A complete game preview is below.

  • Saturday's showdown between Arizona and Colorado comes on the heels of three consecutive Wildcat wins in the head-to-head series. The Wildcats are 8-14 all-time against Colorado, losing the first 12 head-to-head meetings between the two programs from 1931 to 1985. Arizona has won both meetings in the series under head coach Kevin Sumlin; 42-34 in 2018 and 35-30 in 2019.
  • The Wildcats dropped the 27-10 decision at UCLA on Saturday as true freshman Will Plummer saw his first collegiate action after Grant Gunnell was injured on the first play from scrimmage. Plummer completed 17-of-35 passes for 151 yards while rushing for 49 yards.
  • Stanley Berryhill III was one of eight different Wildcats to catch a pass against the Bruins and finished with team highs of five catches and 58 yards. Included in those 153 receiving yards by eight Cats was Drew Dixon's first half catch of 28 yards, besting his previous career high of 24 yards versus UCLA in 2019.
  • The Arizona defense stymied the Bruins early, allowing just three first-quarter points. It marked the sixth time during the Kevin Sumlin era that the Wildcats defense has held an opponent to three or fewer points in the first quarter. 
  • Entering Saturday, 12 different Wildcat receivers have caught at least one pass through the first three games. Six of Arizona's 12 receivers with at least one catch are averaging over 10 yards per catch.
  • Arizona has reduced its passing yards surrendered by nearly 100 yards each game this season after allowing 325 yards through the air to USC, 239 by Washington and 129 to UCLA. The 129 passing yards surrendered marked the eighth time in the last decade the Wildcats have held a Pac-12 opponent to fewer than 150 yards passing in a game.
  • Saturday's game will feature a Military Appreciation theme. The Wildcats will add a new decal to their helmets highlighting Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Additionally, some of the sideline gear worn by the Wildcats staff will feature a 'Rescue and Attack 355th Wing' patch honoring the United States Air Force.
  • Fans can purchase their own Military Appreciation gear in support of Operation Hat Trick. Arizona Operation Hat Trick merchandise proceeds benefit veterans and their families through the Arizona Fisher House and student veterans through the University of Arizona VETS Center. Merchandise can be purchased HERE.

7 — Arizona's seven wins over Colorado since the Pac-10 grew to 12 in 2011 are the program's most over any conference foe during that span, followed by the Wildcats' four wins over California and Utah.

377.0 — The Wildcats have averaged 377.0 passing yards in their two wins over Colorado under head coach Kevin Sumlin.

27 — Junior offensive lineman Donovan Laie has started in 27 consecutive games entering Saturday's game versus Colorado. He's just outside the top 10 of the program's longest starting streaks by an offensive lineman since Arizona began tracking starts in 1993.

11,735 — The Wildcats have rushed for 11,735 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.

66.2 — Sophomore quarterback Grant Gunnell's career completion percentage entering Saturday's game is 66.2%.


  • The Arizona offense continues to show its explosive prowess with nine plays of 20 or more yards in its first two games against two of the Pac-12's top defenses in USC and Washington with two more explosion plays versus UCLA. The Wildcats have tallied a total of 11 offensive plays of 20 or more yards in the first three games this season after recording 12 plays of 20 yards or more on offense against Pac-12 defenses in all of 2019.
  • Sophomore Christian Roland-Wallace recorded a career-high 10 tackles in the loss to UCLA on Saturday. The defensive back is on pace to eclipse his freshman mark of 37 total tackles in 12 games as the Palmdale, California native has 15 through the first three games of the shortened 2020 season.
  • Senior defensive back Lorenzo Burns enters Saturday's showdown with the Buffs with 38 career starts as a Wildcat. His 38 starting nods trail only Oregon's Jordon Scott (41) for the most among all active Pac-12 players.
  • Wildcat kicker Lucas Havrisik has shown his powerful leg on kick offs. He has neutralized opposing return units this season as only one of his 15 kickoffs has been returned.
  • With over 60 percent of its roster made up by underclassmen, Arizona has seen nine different players make their first career starts through the first three games of the 2020 season.
  • The Wildcats hold a 10-game losing streak entering Saturday at Colorado and dating back to 2019, which is tied for the program's longest winless streak since the 1956 and 1957 seasons. Arizona ended 1956 with a pair of losses, tied BYU in the 1957 opener, and then lost seven straight games. The 2016 Wildcats lost their first eight Pac-12 games of the season before winning the Territorial Cup.


  • The Wildcats will face the Buffaloes on Saturday in a series that has seen Arizona win seven of the nine meetings between the two programs since Colorado joined the Pac-12 in 2011. The Cats have won the last three meetings courtesy of their offense that has averaged 40.7 points per game in those three victories.
  • Arizona's 35-30 win last season was powered by a passing attack that amassed 400 yards with eight receivers and backs on this year's roster catching at least one pass.
  • Wide out Brian Casteel starred in last year's meeting, finishing with 7 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. His seven receptions still stand as a career high.
  • Since the Wildcats and Buffaloes became conference foes in 2011, Arizona has averaged 39.0 points per game in all nine match-ups. The Cats' seven victories during that span have come by an average margin of 12.9 points per game.
  • Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell spent five seasons as the head coach at UCLA from 2003 to 2007, posting a 3-2 record against Arizona with one win coming in Tucson in 2003.


  • 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.

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. 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.
Grant Gunnell 200+ Yard Passing Performances

Date Opponent Cmp-Att % Yds TD
11/21/20 at Washington 27-39 69.2 259 3
11/14/20 USC 24-36 66.7 286 3
11/02/19 Oregon State 19-29 65.5 269 2
09/28/19 UCLA 29-44 65.9 352 1

FAB FIVE: Grant Gunnell built a prodigious opening to his career through his first five starts with the Wildcats. Across his first five starts behind center, Gunnell went gone 98-for-149 passing for 1,075 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception. His 1,075 yards are the most by an Arizona QB through their first five starts since Anu Solomon opened his career with 1,741 yards through the air. Even more impressive is Gunnell's sparkling 65.8% completion percentage, which stands as the best mark by a Wildcat passer in their first five starts since Nick Foles posted a mark of 72.3%. Gunnell has tallied 200+ yards three times in five starts and passed the 200-yard mark in two of his three starts this season.
Recent Arizona QBs Through First Five Career Starts

QB (Years) Cmp-Att % Yds TD INT
Grant Gunnell (2019-current) 98-149 65.8 1075 7 1
Khalil Tate (2016-19) 50-94 53.2 793 7 5
Brandon Dawkins (2015-17) 69-118 58.5 941 5 3
Anu Solomon (2014-16) 131-206 63.6 1741 14 2
B.J. Denker (2012-13) 57-104 54.8 581 4 2
Matt Scott (2008-12) 79-122 64.8 954 4 4
Nick Foles (2009-11) 138-191 72.3 1436 10 5
Willie Tuitama (2005-08) 83-147 56.5 1109 8 5

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. He has also added pass catching to his repertoire in 2020, pulling in eight receptions for 34 yards during the Wildcats first three games after logging just six catches for 59 yards in his first three seasons. During his time in Tucson, Brightwell has always been productive, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 30.0 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

IN A RUSH: Despite doing much of their damage through the air recently, Arizona's rushing attack still remains dangerous. The Wildcats finished the 2019 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 6-20. The Wildcats have led 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 11,735
2. Oregon 11,639
3. Utah 10,575
4. Washington 10,134
5. USC 8,780
6. Oregon State 8,460
7. Stanford 8,453
8. Colorado 8,366
9. Arizona State 8,106
10. California 7,533
11. UCLA 7,112
12. Washington State 4,668

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 against USC in the season opener.

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 120 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.

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. Of his three career touchdowns, two have come from further than 45 yards out — his average touchdown catch in Tucson has clocked in at 43.3 yards. Cunningham's average mark of 16.1 yards per reception this year is the best mark among Wildcat receivers. 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 games 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.
Tayvian Cunningham Receiving Touchdowns

Date Opponent Yards
11/14/20 USC 75
09/07/19 Northern Arizona 8
09/07/19 Northern Arizona 47

ZO SAYS NO: Redshirt senior defensive back Lorenzo Burns is the Wildcats most experience secondary player, having seen time in 40 games with 38 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 was the Wildcats leading returner in both tackles for loss (6.5) and sacks (4.0). During three-plus seasons and 31 games in the cardinal and navy, Harris has compiled 71 total tackles, 13.0 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. He then passed his mark in tackles and reset his career high with seven stops on the road at UCLA.

WILDCATS IN THE NFL: Coming into week 12, the Wildcats are once again well represented in the National Football League with 12 former letterwinners active across the league. One of Arizona's most prestigious alums, tight end Rob Gronkowski, returned from retirement to rejoin his longtime quarterback Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Over nine season in New England, Gronkowski hauled in 7,861 yards and 81 touchdowns – he caught his first touchdown for the Bucs in week six and has since hauled in three more. Quarterback Nick Foles is in his ninth NFL season after rewriting the Wildcats record books during his time in Tucson. Now with the Chicago Bears, Foles has been the team's starting QB since week four. The most recent Wildcats to make the transition to the NFL are running back J.J. Taylor and defensive back Jace Whittaker. Taylor was a mainstay in the Arizona backfield from 2016-19 and has since taken his talents to New England. Whittaker finished his Arizona career ranked fourth-all time in pass breakups and was recently promoted to the Arizona Cardinals active roster. For a complete list of former Wildcats in the NFL, see the comprehensive chart below.
Current Wildcats on NFL Rosters

Player Position Team
Dane Cruikshank S Tennessee Titans
Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles DB San Francisco 49ers
Nick Foles QB Chicago Bears
Nick Folk K New England Patriots
Reggie Gilbert LB Jacksonville Jaguars
Rob Gronkowski TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers
P.J. Johnson DL Arizona Cardinals (practice squad)
Will Parks S Philadelphia Eagles
Shawn Poindexter WR San Francisco 49ers (practice squad)
Brooks Reed LB Tennessee Titans (practice squad)
J.J. Taylor RB New England Patriots
Jace Whittaker CB Arizona Cardinals