The Arizona Wildcats improved to 4-2 with a 35-24 win over Utah Saturday. Here’s my report card for yesterday’s game:
Senior B.J. Denker was solid again, accounting for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the win. He had rushing touchdowns of 10 yards and one yard in the first half, and then threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Nate Phillips in the third quarter. His best throw of the night was to Phillips in the fourth quarter that ultimately led to the decisive touchdown. He also was turnover-less for the fourth time in six games.
Running Backs: A
Rule No. 1 of Arizona Football: Never bet against Ka’deem Carey. The junior running back ran for 236 yards on a school-record 40 carries, good for 5.9 yards per rush. His 44-yard touchdown run with 1:30 left sealed the victory for the Wildcats. It was his ninth-straight game with 100-plus rushing yards and he eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark for his career.
Wide Receivers: B
Phillips led all Wildcats receivers with four catches and 63 yards and had the Wildcats’ only receiving touchdown. His clutch 36-yard reception in the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-3 set up his touchdown reception, which ultimately ended up as the difference in the game. In addition to Phillips, David Richards, Samajie Grant and Johnny Jackson also made multiple catches.
Offensive Line: A
The starting unit of Mickey Baucus, Chris Putton, Steven Gurrola, Cayman Bundage and Fabbians Ebbele blocked the way for 300 rushing yards and 5.2 yards per carry. They also only allowed one sack and didn’t commit a holding penalty for the fifth time in six games. It was a very encouraging performance against a strong Utah defensive line.
Defensive Line: A
The defensive line was extremely active, combining for 17 tackles (5.5 for loss) and 2.0 sacks. Sione Tuihalamaka led the way with eight tackles, while Reggie Gilbert and Justin Washington each added sacks. The Wildcats held the Utes to 172 yards rushing and 4.1 yards per carry, which would have been a lot less if not for a 37-yard run by Utah backup running back Lucky Radley.
Senior Jake Fischer looked like he was back to full health, registering a team-high 12 tackles (0.5 for loss). Marquis Flowers was active in the pass game, returning an interception 14 yards for a touchdown and deflecting a pass. Backup Sir Thomas Jackson came in on the Wildcats’ S.W.A.T. team defense and recorded a sack.
Both Shaquille Richardson and Jonathan McKnight had strong games, combining for five tackles and two passes broken up. Richardson picked off a pass in the second quarter, his second interception of the season. They also combined to hold Dres Anderson, who entered the game averaging 98.7 receiving yards per game, to three catches and 29 yards. Overall, the Utes were held to only 157 yards passing for the game.
After Jared Tevis was ruled out for the game with a knee injury, Tra’mayne Bondurant went down early and missed 3 1/2 quarters. William Parks and Anthony Lopez played very well in their absence, combining for nine tackles and a pass deflected. Lopez, however, was beat on a 55-yard touchdown reception by Utah wide receiver Sean Fitzgerald, the Utes’ longest play of the game. Jourdon Grandon had five tackles and a pass deflected.
Special Teams: D
It was another poor game for the Wildcats special teams. Punt returner Johnny Jackson muffed two punts and lost one, ending with three returns for five yards. Kicker Jake Smith had an extra point blocked, which for a while looked like it could have haunted the Wildcats late in the game. Punter Drew Riggleman averaged 40.0 yards on four punts, but only one was downed inside the 20-yard line. The Wildcats kickoff coverage team, which had ranked fourth in the country allowing only 16.3 yards per return, allowed 38 yards on two returns.
It’s hard to argue giving the ball to Ka’deem Carey 40 times when he was running like he was. However, Arizona called running plays on seven of the first 11 offensive plays of the third quarter. Carey picked up only 13 yards on seven carries and the Wildcats recorded two three-and-outs and were stopped once on fourth down. In my opinion, play-calling was part of the reason why Utah was able to get back into the game.
Topics: 2013 Football Report Cards, Anthony Lopez, Arizona Wildcats, B.J. Denker, Cayman Bundage, Chris Putton, David Richards, Dres Anderson, Drew Riggleman, Fabbians Ebbele, Follow, Index, Jake Fischer, Jake Smith, Johnny Jackson, Jonathan McKnight, Jourdon Grandon, Justin Washington, Ka'deem Carey, Lucky Radley, Marquis Flowers, Mickey Baucus, Nate Phillips, Reggie Gilbert, Rich Rodriguez, Samajie Grant, Sean Fitzgerald, Shaquille Richardson, Sione Tuihalamaka, Sir Thomas Jackson, Steven Gurrola, Tra'mayne Bondurant, Utah Utes, William Parks