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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Football Game Notes: Defense shows improvement in second half against Toledo

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Colin Prenger/Arizona Daily Wildcat

There were some haunting flashbacks to the defense of 2011 Saturday night, but halftime adjustments made the difference in the Wildcats 24-17 win.

In the first half, Toledo had rolled up 226 yards of total offense and held the halftime lead at 14-10, but the most disturbing statistic may have been that the Rockets were 10 of 15 on third down conversions, seven of nine in the first quarter alone.

At the end of the first quarter, Toledo was winning the time of possession battle 10:43 to Arizona’s 4:17 and all of the Rockets’ first downs had come via a third down conversion, with five on the ground and two through the air, including a 19-yard pass on their first drive.

In the second quarter, the Arizona forced its first two three-and-outs of the game, but the substitution of starting quarterback Austin Dantin for Terrance Owens gave the Wildcats fits, as
Owens was able to pass for 109 yards and a score in addition to his 18 yards on the ground before Dantin came back into the game for good toward the end of the third quarter..

“Whether you’re offense or defense you watch the film and wish you had some calls back,” Arizona
head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “What we have to do is make sure we execute better and as a staff, put our guys in a position to make plays.”

In the second half, however, the Arizona defense held its own, and did not give up another third down conversion the rest of the night.

“I know we can do so much better,” junior linebacker Jake Fischer said. “The adjustments we have to make, it’s just timing. In the second half, when we got into third down situations, we did a whole lot better. The adjustments worked and for the most part, we handled it pretty well.”

Student section impresses Rodriguez

Due to the north end zone construction, the maximum occupancy at Arizona Stadium dropped from 56,100 to 51,811, and although the attendance for Saturday night’s game was 48,670, Rodriguez acknowledged the crowd was a major factor in the win, especially late in the game.

“Our crowd played a large part in the last series,” Rodriguez said. “I thought the crowd that stayed around at the end made a big impact. Our fans made noise and made it difficult for them to execute and that’s what you want as a home-field advantage.”

The student section, as usual, entered the stadium about two hours early, but Rodriguez jokingly nodded at the fact that a noticeable amount of fans starting filing out by halftime.

“Some of them maybe got lost; they went to the bathroom at halftime,” Rodriguez joked. (Athletic Director) Greg (Byrne) will probably put up some signs that say ‘return right back here.’”

Walk-on linebacker gets surprise start

With expected starting outside linebacker Hank Hobson out with a shoulder injury, walk-on linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson started at outside linebacker in his first game for the Wildcats, and was on the field for almost every play and recorded seven tackles.

“He’s one of those guys he improves every day and he stepped up big for us tonight,” said safety Jared Tevis, who recorded 12 tackles against Toledo. “I mean maybe at the beginning of fall camp he might not have thought we’d be needing him this much, but he came through and he did a heck of a job.”

Jackson is in the mix for playing time going forward because of his size at 6-foot, 215 pounds, his work ethic and an overall lack of depth at the linebacker position for Arizona.

“You talk about a guy that’s a walk-on who just comes and works hard every day in practice,” Rodriguez said. “I believe he played just about every play and I think he was in on some special teams too. The way our linebacker situation was, I’m proud of the way he stuck in there.”

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