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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Dykes hired as new offensive coordinator

    Sonny Dykes
    Sonny Dykes

    Arizona football head coach Mike Stoops loves how his defense is excelling. He’s less fond of watching his offense sputter when it gets the ball.

    Enter Sonny Dykes, an architect of Texas Tech’s prolific pass-heavy offense who was announced as Arizona’s new offensive coordinator Friday.

    “”He brings great credibility to our program,”” Stoops said. “”We feel good about this hire. That’s for sure.””

    Dykes replaces Mike Canales, who resigned from the Wildcats on Nov. 27 after three seasons. He was the only candidate the team officially interviewed.

    The Red Raiders led the nation in passing offense in Dykes’ first season as co-offensive coordinator in 2005 and rank third in the category this year.

    The offensive system Dykes plans to install at Arizona will be a mix of Texas Tech’s and a derivative used at Brigham Young. The former frequently employs four or more wide receivers, while the latter makes better use of tight ends and running backs.

    Where the Wildcats’ version of the offense will fit in that spectrum depends on what Dykes sees when he evaluates the roster in the offseason. Stoops said he anticipates Arizona will often line up with two running backs in the backfield.

    Although Texas Tech’s attack has been known for its aerial excellence, Dykes said running backs have demonstrated success in his scheme, pointing out the achievements of two Red Raiders he helped coach.

    In 2005, Taurean Henderson had 17 rushing touchdowns and caught five more scores, and this year, sophomore Shannon Woods averaged 6.1 yards per carry and was third on the team with 72 receptions.

    If that production model sticks at Arizona next season, running back Chris Henry should be a prime benefactor. The junior emerged in the second half of the season as a workhorse capable of touching the ball more than 30 times a game.

    “”The most productive position in our offense, year in and year out, is definitely our running back,”” Dykes said.

    Dykes got an unintentional head start on his scouting when he watched a pair of afternoon Wildcat games on TV this season. He also watched film of the team’s offense while in Tucson last week for his interview.

    “”I like the speed and athleticism of this football team,”” he said. “”I think the staff here has done an excellent job recruiting. A lot of good, young players.””

    Stoops said the Wildcats needed a drastic change in offensive philosophy after allowing 28 or fewer points in five of their six losses yet scoring only 8.8.

    Arizona finished third in the Pacific 10 Conference in points allowed (19.6), and Stoops said the offense, whose scoring average ranked 105th of 119 NCAA Division-IA teams, must close the gap between the units.

    “”If we could have scored 30 points, we probably could have won 10 games this year,”” he said.

    Dykes said he looks forward to working with sophomore wide receiver Mike Thomas, whom he recruited, and sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama, whom Stoops called “”a perfect fit”” for whatever form the offense takes.

    Thomas, in turn, said he looks forward to seeing his statistics improve.

    A pair of Red Raiders wideouts, Joel Filani and Robert Johnson, caught 80 passes this season. By comparison, senior Syndric Steptoe led the Wildcats with 55 catches, while Thomas had 50.

    Thomas said he intends to make sure his younger teammates get up to speed with the offense, as freshmen Terrell Reese and Terrell Turner often dropped balls thrown their way in limited action last season.

    “”Terrell Turner, I was talking to him the other day, and he was like, ‘I’m going to be catching 100 balls,'”” Thomas said. “”Everybody’s kind of excited about the move. I think it will be good for us to get some energy in the offense.””

    Dykes, 37, spent the last seven seasons at Texas Tech, first as a wide receivers coach and then also as the co-offensive coordinator the last two years.

    His father, Spike, is the school’s all-time wins leader, and his brother, Rick, was the offensive coordinator at Arizona in 2001 and 2002.

    Stoops said the coaching tradition in the Dykes family – one that resembles his own – contributed to Dykes being hired.

    The Red Raiders lighting up Big 12 opponents during Stoops’ years at Oklahoma was another big factor, as were the 45 points they hung on California in the 2004 Insight.com Bowl.

    “”This is a system that has proven itself over the test of time,”” Stoops said.

    Stoops said he wasn’t sure where Dykes’ hire puts Dana Dimel, who served as Arizona’s co-offensive coordinator with Canales for the season’s final five games.

    Dimel may return to coaching tight ends, but Stoops said he could also become the team’s quarterbacks coach.

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