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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Colorado just what doctor ordered for Arizona football

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Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat


After a tough loss at UCLA last week, a little vitamin CU was just what the doctor ordered for Arizona football. The No. 21 Wildcats (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12 Conference) not only clinched a bowl berth and a winning record in their 38-20 win over Colorado, they also got to work out some kinks against the worst team in the Pac-12.

The Buffaloes roamed into town at just the right time.

Colorado (2-8, 0-7) has lost six games in a row, including 18 in a row to ranked opponents. The Buffaloes are even 1-11 in their black helmets.

“Bouncing back this week was big for us,” UA safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant said. Bondurant had a fumble return for a touchdown.

Colorado opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown pass but did little else the rest of the game.

“We just had to calm down, relax and get settled in,” UA safety Jourdan Grandon said.

Colorado didn’t hand Arizona the game — the Wildcats took it. But the Buffs did have four turnovers, which the Wildcats cashed in for 28 points.

“I think it was the difference in the game,” UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez said about the turnovers, “because we still sputtered around offensively at times and missed a few things, and we weren’t executing as well as we needed to.”

The short fields from turnovers kick-started the UA offense, which had seven points in the first quarter and three in the third.

Both running back Nick Wilson (153) and quarterback Anu Solomon (115) ran for over 100 yards. The Wildcats didn’t have a 100-plus yard rusher in their two losses.

“It just feels good to be back,” Wilson said.

Arizona’s offense took what the defense gave it, but is much better when it runs well and doesn’t rely on a freshman throwing 70-something times a game.

“Our spread is not run-based first, I think,” Rodriguez said, “but we like to have balance, but we don’t want to force the balance.”

Receiver Samajie Grant, who had 83 yards receiving and two touchdowns, said as the UA started running better, the CU linebackers “scooted in,” giving the receivers one-on-one coverage.

“Last time I checked, it’s pretty hard to cover somebody just by yourself and so much room,” Grant said.

Solomon threw for 211 yards after starting slow and throwing for a career-low 175 last week.

“I have to thank the coaches,” Wilson said. “We schemed pretty well, we made a few adjustments at halftime and things just started happening.”

It would have been harder to turn it on like that against a better team, but once again, the team was feeling good, and Rich Rod was cracking jokes at the postgame press conference.

Solomon rushed for over a 100 yards for the first time in his career, after some in the media suggested he run more following the UCLA loss. The Daily Wildcat even wrote that on its front page.

“He made some big, big runs,” Rodriguez said. “That made a difference for us.”

Making Solomon a dual-threat quarterback again improves the offense greatly and makes the Wildcats a threat in the Pac-12 South once more.

Up next for the Wildcats is a step up in competition in Washington (6-4, 2-4), but another shot to work out the kinks before a brutal road trip to Utah, and a home date with playoff contender and archrival ASU.

“Every game you win now, you kind of climb up the bowl ladder, and, certainly, we’re in a spot, as are a couple teams in the Pac-12 South,” Rodriguez said. “[That’s] all going to be settled here in the last couple of weeks.”

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