More than five years after leaving the UA for an NFL career, Earl Mitchell returns to campus...
Arizona Football Begins Crucial Stretch of Road Games at UCLA
The Wildcats look to improve on their 2-0 away record as they are set to play consecutive road games beginning Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Rose Bowl against the Bruins.
The Wildcats will work to keep pace in the Pac-10 race on Saturday, Oct. 30, when they play the Bruins at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
The UA will illustrate its handling of quarterback depth in the wake of Matt Scott's performance last week while Nick Foles was on the mend. Foles' status for this week is questionable, but he did warm up prior to the game last Saturday.
This week's match-up will be a clash of Arizona's No. 7 (FBS) rushing and scoring defenses against UCLA's No. 22 rushing game.
The UA will work on its winning streak of three games against the Bruins with Tucson wins bracketing one in Pasadena in 2008.
UA cornerback Trevin Wade (10) and UCLA safety Rahim Moore (14) are among conference leaders in career interceptions. An injury to Wade gave ex-UCLA recruit Shaq Richardson a chance to start at Washington State for Arizona two weeks ago, and the guy turned in two picks.
Arizona will play its first afternoon game of the season after only two twilight contests (4 p.m.) at WSU and OSU.
The Cats, bowl eligible for the fourth time in five years, now have postseason ramifications on the line in every game from here on out. On paper it could be the nuance of UCLA against Arizona's own intricacies, so probably on the field it will simply evolve into a tough-guy contest.
Last week, Arizona scored 30 first-half points and tossed a second-half shutout to thump Washington, 44-14, before a sellout crowd on Homecoming weekend in Tucson.
The UA scored on five consecutive possessions to take a 30-14 halftime lead and never looked back. The Cats ran for a season-high 234 yards and enjoyed some superlative stewardship by junior quarterback Scott, who matched the running game by completing 82 percent of his throws (18 for 22) for 233 yards and two scores.
Scott added 65 rushing yards (9.3 ypc) to back up Keola Antolin's 114 rushing yards and twin scores. Nic Grigsby added another pair of touchdowns on a 12-50 rushing effort. Alex Zendejas added a field goal to put the UA up 10-7 and acquire the lead for good.
The Arizona defense took care of business, sacking normally elusive UW quarterback Jake Locker four times to hold him to a sub-par -24 rushing yards and pressuring him enough to limit his passing to 183 passing yards. The sacks and six other tackles for losses helped the the UA hold a fifth opponent under 100 yards rushing (98 net).
Juron Criner caught eight passes for 108 yards including a 21-yard scoring pass to put the final points on the board early in the fourth quarter.
Arizona built a first-half offensive output of 356 yards to make it clear that operating under Scott was not going to be a drop off from injured Foles. Scott's pass efficiency of 200.78 for the game was UA's best of the season and improved him to 4-1 as the starting quarterback, a role he had not enjoyed since the lone loss at Iowa early last year. His poise helped the UA score five times in five red zone tries.
Linebacker Paul Vassallo turned in a career and season team-best 14-tackle game including a sack. The 14 hits were the most since then junior Xavier Kelley turned in 15 against BYU in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl. The victory improved Arizona to 6-1 and made the Cats bowl eligible.
Arizona's schedule down the stretch certainly toughens up, if only because the Wildcats play three of their remaining five games on the road.
Certainly the competition and conference race will continue to heat up each week as well. But the UA hopes it can continue to find solace in playing away from home, where the team is 2-0 this year and has won four-straight Pac-10 road games dating back to 2009.
Coaches and players have attributed the two road trips this year to turning points in the season. The first was the season-opener at Toledo, where the Wildcats took with them many unanswered questions from fall camp, notably related to a young and inexperienced defense. That trip brought the UA defense together and marked the berth of a very strong unit as the Cats thumped the Rockets 41-2.
Then, following their only loss of the season two weeks ago, the Wildcats hit the road for the first time in six weeks and again found the road to be a solidifying experience as they defeated Washington State 24-7 despite Foles going down with an injury.
Arizona hopes another road trip this week will continue to build the camaraderie and chemistry that has gone hand-in-hand with success throughout the season.
Arizona will remain on the road to take on nationally ranked Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. on Saturday, Nov. 6. The start time of the game has been narrowed down to either 5 p.m. (PT) on ABC or 7:15 p.m. on ESPN.