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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    2 ‘Cats earn Pac-10 honors

    UA receiver Mike Thomas tries to evade UCLA safety Rahim Moore in a 31-10 win over the Bruins on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. Thomas was named the Pacific 10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance Saturday.
    UA receiver Mike Thomas tries to evade UCLA safety Rahim Moore in a 31-10 win over the Bruins on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. Thomas was named the Pacific 10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance Saturday.

    Football Notes

    Winning begets recognition, and the Arizona football team earned a triple play of sorts as a result of Saturday’s 31-10 win over UCLA at the Rose Bowl.

    Wide receiver Mike Thomas was named the Pacific 10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week and nickel back Corey Hall was named the Defensive Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday.

    “”It’s great for Corey and Mike. Mike has been outstanding in every game and I think his national recognition will pick up as we pick up,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”Hopefully we can continue to win and create that recognition that he deserves.””

    Thomas recorded 257 all-purpose yards – the third most in his career – including 107 yards on six punt returns. On one effort, Thomas bolted down the Arizona sideline and then tip-toed out of harm’s way before being taken down at the Bruins’ 26-yard line, setting up a UA touchdown to put the Wildcats on top 24-10.

    “”It was just one of those times where you get to play around a little bit,”” Thomas said. “”I just got the ball and played around. I finally hit the wall and was able to get down the field a little bit.

    “”They’ve been doing a great job (blocking) on that punt return unit. As Special Teams Player of the Week, I can’t take credit for that,”” he added. “”I can’t do that without my teammates blocking for me. I think it should be that whole Arizona unit that gets the award, not just me.””

    Thomas was also a stud on the offensive side of the ball as he tallied 115 yards on just four catches. It was his third straight game with 100 or more yards receiving and just the third time since Bobby Wade did it against Oregon, Washington and Stanford in 2002 and in 1999 when Dennis Northcutt achieved the feat against Oregon, UCLA and Washington. The effort was good enough for Thomas to earn another award – a game ball for the third time in four games this season.

    Hall was honored as the top Pac-10 defensive player for the variety in his stat sheet. He registered a career-high seven tackles – four of them solo – and recorded his first-ever sack to go along with two passes defended. Hall’s play was a key reason why the Wildcats held UCLA to 81 yards passing and 196 total offensive yards. Those numbers helped keep the UA defensive squad ranked fifth nationally in pass defense (103.25 yards per game).

    “”I guess that’s what coaches have been looking for out of me and I haven’t understood that until this year,”” Hall said. “”I look at my film from last year and I look at myself and say, ‘I could have run to the ball here or run to the ball there.'””

    UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft didn’t disagree with Hall’s nomination. Aside from the one sack, there were a number of times Hall hit Craft during his throwing motion, including a few thundering hits in the second half. Hall definitely backed up his reputation for being a fierce hitter.

    “”I’m excited on the inside (after making a big hit), I just don’t show it on the outside. If the dude’s hurt I don’t want to be celebrating over him,”” Hall said. “”But I like football, and hitting. That’s what I do.””

    Kerley likely out for year

    UA starting center Blake Kerley will likely miss the rest of the season after injuring his left knee in Saturday’s win. Stoops said he is “”99 percent sure that it’s an ACL that will take the rest of the year away from him,”” and he doubts Kerley could receive a medical redshirt as a result of the injury because he’s already played in one-fourth of Arizona’s games this season.

    Stoops acknowledges it will be a big loss to the offense, but expects Colin Baxter to adjust to his new role as he makes the transition to center and expects now-starting guard Mike Diaz to be more than a suitable replacement for Baxter.

    “”(In terms of level of play) you didn’t really notice anything drastic one way or another, so I think that’s a good sign,”” Stoops said. “”I think Mike has a chance to be an excellent player.

    “”At least we have two weeks to get adjusted to the new personnel. You’ve got two new guys, but that’s OK,”” Stoops added. “”Colin has always been our backup center so he’s very familiar with what he has to do and Mike can play a lot of different positions.

    “”We’re comfortable with the guys we’ll have ready to go for Washington.””

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