The Arizona Wildcats invade Husky Stadium this coming weekend in what has evolved into a must win for both teams. The Huskies are coming off a heartbreaking loss at Notre Dame while the Wildcats are riding high after a week off following a big win on the road at Oregon State.
A lot of writers have been high on the Wildcats this season despite questions on defense and an offense that is still working the kinks out. Things seemed to click against OSU but the Beaver defense may be the most questionable unit in the league right now.
Nick Foles seems to have won the QB job coming off a great debut against OSU. Foles is a prototypical downfield passer with experience in the spread offense. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound sophomore played at Austin Westlake High School, a Texas football powerhouse, and played one season at Michigan State before transferring to UA. Foles was 25 of 34 for 254 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the 37-32 win at Oregon State.
The Wildcats are missing All American TE Rob Gronkowski who is out for the season after injuring his back. Gronkowski's injury has particularly hurt the Wildcats on third down and in the red zone, situations where a big target often can yield big plays. The Wildcats have converted just 39 percent (16 of 41) of their third downs this season; last year it was 46 percent. They picked it up against OSU but with Gronkowski out it still can be a struggle.
TB Nic Grigsby should be back in the lineup after the bye week according to coach Mike Stoops. Grigsby left the Oregon State game with a bruised right shoulder. Grigsby is averaging 101.8 rushing yards per game, and his 8.1 yards per carry leads the Pac-10.
WR Terrell Turner has proven to be an apt heir apparent to Mike Thomas, the Pac-10 Conference's all-time receptions leader. Through four games, Turner — a 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pound senior — leads the team in catches (15), receiving yards (133) and receiving yards per game (33.2). His two touchdowns are second among the Wildcats' receivers, behind sophomore Juron Criner's three.
Arizona’s retooled line was solid in its Pac-10 opener. Left tackle Phil Garcia and right guard Herman Hall looked the part of starters in their first extended playing time of the year. Foles wasn’t sacked once.
The Wildcats were solid up front on defense in their last outing. They held Oregon State to just 104 rushing yards on 30 carries. OSU star Jacquizz Rodgers carried 16 times for 85 yards, though his receiving numbers — 13 catches for 70 yards — seemed to balance an otherwise mediocre night. Defensive end Ricky Elmore and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell are both having a solid season. Linebacker Xavier Kelley is the teams leading tackler.
CB Devin Ross has proven to be a big time player for the Wildcat defense. Ross' pick of Beavers quarterback Sean Canfield with 1 minute 33 seconds remaining helped lock up the victory over the Beav's. The performance was redemption for Ross, who had been burned for a game-changing deep pass in Arizona's loss to Oregon State ago last season. Ross was named the Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Week for his perfomance against OSU. Fellow CB Trevin Wade has picked off four passes so far this season and had a key one against the Beavers.
A couple of weeks ago the prescription for beating UA was to load the box and stop TB Nic Grigsby. Things have changed since then because Nick Foles has proven himself to be enough of a threat to keep future opponents from focusing completely on Grigsby. Foles has the ability to stretch the field which can open up some big holes for Grigsby.
Washington's key to winning the game on Saturday is to play solid defense. The Washington offense behind the arm and legs of Jake Locker will score enough points to win. The key is putting enough pressure on Foles to force him into mistakes.
Playing on the road isn't easy as the Huskies know after facing Stanford and Notre Dame on consecutive weekends. Playing in Husky Stadium should give the defense a lift and be good for a TD in Washington's favor. The loudest venue in college football needs to rock this Saturday to give Washington the advantage it needs to win this game.
Officiating Fall Out
The University of Washington athletic department has asked the Pac 10 to take a closer than usual view of the officiating in last weekends Notre Dame football game. Pac 10 Commissioner Larry Scott has been specifically asked to get involved in the review of the game.
Bob Condotta of the Times had these comments from Woodward who says the two plays he wants reviewed are the two-point run by ND's Robert Hughes and the reversal of an apparent Chris Polk TD, both in the fourth quarter.
"The non-review of the two-point conversion was a mistake,'' Woodward said of a play in which some thought Hughes was down.
I took a long look at the replay last night and it was clear that Hughes knee was down and the ND OL carried or pushed him at that point which is an infraction.
We had a great view of Polk's touch down from the corner of the end zone and could not believe that call was reversed. When I looked at it on TV last night the NBC announcers agreed. It did look a lot closer in the replay on TV than it did from our angle on top of the play in the stands.
The one conclusion I did come away with was it was inconclusive to anyone who was reviewing the play from the video replay. The NBC announcers said the same thing. The rules are if the replay is inconclusive the play cannot be reversed. The play should never have been reversed.
Kibbles and Bits
WR D'Andre Goodwin and S Nate Williams are listed as probable for Arizona.
WR Devin Aguilar and LB EJ Savannah are expected back for Arizona. They missed the ND game with injuries.
Safety Justin Glenn will miss the rest of the season with a broken fibula and ligament damage. He will undergo surgery later this week.
Safety Jason Wells may see action this coming weekend. He has been practcing with the scout team.
OG Nick Wood is competing for Greg Christine's starting job this week.
S Nathan Fellner is the latest true frosh to play this season. The grandson of Jim Sweeney has been impressive in practice and with the loss of Justin Glenn is being groomed for extensive playing time this season.
Jake Locker explained yesterday why he declined to be interviewed after the game. It was the first time during Jake's career that he had dodged a post game interview.
"I didn't feel like I was in the best emotional state to answer questions,'' said Locker, who showered, dressed and boarded the bus before just about anyone else on the team. "I didn't want to have to sit up here today and explain anything (that he might have said Saturday). I felt like it was in my best interest and the team's best interest to take some time to cool down. That's what I thought after the game.''
The last UA quarterback to throw a pass in the NFL is now 58 years old. That would be Bill Demory, who played, briefly, for the New York Jets in 1973.
Since near the end of the 2007 season, Arizona:
- Has won 14 of 21 games.
- Is 9-5 in Pac-10 games.
- Has a 3-2 record against ranked teams.
- Defeated the No. 2 team in the country (Oregon, 2007).
- Won the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl, 31-21 over BYU.
- Has been competitive against everybody, not losing a game by more than 10 points.