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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Grigsby strikes again

    Wildcat running back Nic Grigsby darts up field during Arizonas 41-16 victory over Toledo at Arizona Stadium Saturday night. Grigsby amassed 135 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, his second straight game rushing for multiple scores and at least 100 yards.
    Wildcat running back Nic Grigsby darts up field during Arizona’s 41-16 victory over Toledo at Arizona Stadium Saturday night. Grigsby amassed 135 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, his second straight game rushing for multiple scores and at least 100 yards.

    As the transformation of college football continues to shift toward the spread offense, just as Arizona did prior to last season, it may seem like the running back could be the odd man out.

    But don’t tell that to Arizona’s starting running back Nic Grigsby.

    Grigsby rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns – including 95 rushing yards and all three of his touchdowns in the first half – in Arizona’s second game of the season, leading the Wildcats to a 41-16 win over Toledo Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.

    Grigsby’s performance paved the way to Arizona’s second consecutive win to open the season, marking the first time the Wildcats have started 2-0 under head coach Mike Stoops.

    “”He’s got that Reggie Bush in him,”” said Stoops, who saw Arizona score 111 points through its first two games, which is the first time the Wildcats have scored more than 100 points in any two-game stretch since 1954. “”He’s got that instinct to cut back and make people miss. Nic has run really well and I am really glad with the way he has been playing.””

    The sophomore running back seemed to be fired up from the get-go. He was animated when first taking the field with his teammates, jumping around and gesturing toward Toledo’s sideline.

    While Grigsby was adamant that he wasn’t feeling any different before the game, something certainly worked in his favor, as he was the first running back at Arizona to rush for three scores since Mike Bell did so against Washington in 2002.

    “”I just do that every game just to come out and try to intimidate,”” Grigsby said of his pre-game behavior. “”It probably doesn’t work most of the time, but you have to get in (the opponent’s) eye.””

    Perhaps the most impressive part of Grigsby’s performance was his ability to thrive on the ground in a spread offense. While Arizona has usually sported a pass-first mentality, Grigsby’s efficiency on the ground forced offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes to reconsider his play calling, almost forcing the Wildcats to call running plays up the middle.

    Grigsby showed his uncanny knack for finding open patches of grass and cutting quickly to the seams, turning what looked like a small gain into a big play. Though the running back missed much of the third quarter to rest and give some of Arizona’s other backs some repetitions, Grigsby was certainly pleased with his performance.

    “”I am just pressing the holes, doing what I am supposed to do, and if it is there, I am going to hit it,”” said Grigsby, who was awarded the game ball in the locker room following Arizona’s win. “”I feel good, but I can’t be satisfied with that. … We just want to let people know that we are balanced. We can hit you with the pass and hit you with the run.””

    While a simple glance at the box score may not reveal anything overly spectacular from quarterback Willie Tuitama, Dykes spoke highly of his performance following the game.

    The senior quarterback went 25-for-33 for 292 yards and two touchdowns, but Dykes said he felt it was one of the better games Tuitama has played in his career.

    The Wildcats’ signal caller led an Arizona offense which converted in all six of its red zone opportunities, extending Arizona’s streak of recording points in its first 15 appearances inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

    Dykes said he was most impressed with Tuitama’s intelligent decision-making, possibly the most important sign the quarterback has shown in terms of reaching the maturity level the coaching staff hoped he one day would.

    “”What he did tonight, I really think this is the best he has ever played,”” Dykes said. “”The stats won’t show it, but his decision-making tonight – in my opinion – is so much greater than it has been. He just seemed to do a good job of getting the ball to the right guy and consistently did a good job of reading.””

    Tuitama may not have felt like he lit up the stadium, but his steady progression into one of the Pacific 10 Conference’s better quarterbacks seems to be nearing its end.

    “”For the most part I thought it was good,”” Tuitama said of his decision-making.

    Perhaps the most encouraging thing for the Wildcats was their ability to win handily without playing that “”perfect”” game.

    Much of the Wildcats’ coaching staff felt there was a collection of issues that still needed to be dealt with, but nonetheless, Arizona came out with a convincing win over a talented Toledo squad.

    It looks as if Arizona has finally made the move toward what could turn into a very positive season for the Wildcats.

    “”I think we have,”” Tuitama answered when asked if he feels Arizona has turned to corner. “”We pretty much had good plays every time, and when you do that you will have a chance at winning.””

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