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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Light at the end of the tunnel

Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA Wildcats loss to OSU Beavers at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Oct 9.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Wildcats loss to OSU Beavers at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Oct 9.

For as bad as the secondary was in Saturday’s “”missed opportunity”” against Oregon State, there were some positives from the game. Here is some silver lining from the 29-27 loss to the Beavers:

 

Foles and Criner money again

Quarterback Nick Foles continued his stellar season against the Beavers, going 35-for-46 for 440 yards and two touchdowns. The junior now ranks second in the nation in completions per game (27.4), fifth in passing yards per game (305.8) and sits atop the Pac-10 in total offense.

He was sacked three times and threw an interception in the end zone on Saturday, but he kept Arizona in it, and his incredible rapport with Juron Criner gave the Wildcats reason to take more shots downfield.

Criner finished the game with 12 catches for a career-high 179 yards, including a 45-yard diving touchdown catch rarely seen at the collegiate level. He was snaring jump balls, catching throws way behind him and making defenders miss after the catch.

Criner has been limited due to turf toe in the last two contests, but looked to be 100 percent and further proved he’s one of the top receivers in the Pacific 10 Conference and the country.

The 6-foot-4 wideout is seventh in the nation and first in the Pac-10 in receiving yards per game (106.2), while ranking first in the conference in receptions per game (6.2).

 

Run defense still stout

With arguably the conference’s top running back, Jacquizz Rodgers, in town Saturday, it seemed improbable that Arizona’s run defense would keep up its torrid pace.

But although the Wildcats allowed their first two rushing touchdowns of the season against Oregon Sate, they held Rodgers to a lowly 3.3 yards per carry average — 83 yards on 25 carries.

Arizona’s run defense now ranks No. 16 in the nation and No. 1 in the Pac-10 for yards per game (99.6). Despite facing Rodgers, NFL-ready Cal running back Shane Vereen and Iowa’s stout running game, the Wildcats are yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season.

The front four of Lolomana Mikaele, Justin Washington, Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed combined with linebackers Jake Fischer, Paul Vassallo and Derek Earls have been fantastic through five games and are a huge reason why Arizona is 4-1.

Antolin, Grigsby back on track

Junior running back Keoloa Antolin had his best game of the season on Saturday, rushing for 80 yards and his first rushing touchdown of 2010 on only seven carries, while catching four balls for 40 yards and a score.

Antolin, who was Arizona’s leading rusher in 2009, totaled only 56 yards on 17 carries prior to Saturday’s game. The 5-foot-8 power back is an integral part of Arizona’s offense both as a runner and receiver, so the boost in production is a good sign of moving forward.

Starting back Nic Grigsby had also been quiet heading into the OSU game. After scoring five touchdowns in the first two games, Grigsby was held out of the end zone the last two.

Although he only tallied 22 yards on five carries, Grigsby found the goal line Saturday after taking a screen pass 41 yards to the house. He was quiet all game, but showed the playmaking prowess the Wildcats need to be a more balanced team.

Oregon jumped to No. 2

Although it’s still early in the season, it’s hard not to look at how the post season is shaping up. With former No. 1 Alambama falling to South Carolina on Saturday, Oregon jumped to No. 2 in the AP poll.  

If the Ducks make a serious BCS Championship run, Arizona just needs to finish ahead of Stanford and Oregon State to earn a Rose Bowl bid for the first time in school history.

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