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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Coach: Criner needs ‘sense of urgency’

Mike+Christy+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AThe+No.+15+Wildcats+took+on+the+UCLA+Bruins+in+a+Pacific+10+Conference+college+football+game+Saturday%2C+Oct.+30%2C+2010%2C+at+the+Rose+Bowl+in+Pasadena%2C+Calif.+Arizona+held+off+a+late+fourth-quarter+push+to+beat+the+home+team+29-21.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 15 Wildcats took on the UCLA Bruins in a Pacific 10 Conference college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Arizona held off a late fourth-quarter push to beat the home team 29-21.

Whether it’s been due to his appendix, his knee or his hand, Juron Criner has been a shell of his 2010 self this season. The All-Pac-10 wide receiver hasn’t played a full game since catching six balls for 151 yards and a score against NAU, and his draft stock is dropping by the day.

With only six games remaining in his Wildcat career, Criner, more than anyone needs to return to reform immediately if he hopes to be selected in the first few rounds of the 2012 NFL draft.

“He knows that. We talked about it. He’s got to play good,” said outside receivers coach Dave Nichol. “If I’m in his shoes, I’d have a sense of urgency to play good. Me and him talked about that. He practiced better this week.”

After undergoing an appendectomy two days after the NAU win, Criner was forced out of the Oklahoma State game. He returned a week later for the Stanford game, but didn’t look 100 percent as he dropped a few very catchable balls.

The senior Las Vegas native did catch nine balls for 99 yards against Oregon the next week, but dropped a sure-fire touchdown in that game as well.

He played limited snaps against USC due to a hand injury and left last week’s game at Oregon State in the first quarter after hurting his knee. As has been the case for most of Criner’s career, he’s been dinged up all year long.

“A lot of people don’t realize most of the plays he’s made in his career he’s been hurt,” Nichol said. “He’s weird in that he’s not injury prone but, I know this sounds weird, but he’s just kind of a unique dude. There’s a lot of games around here where no one knew he was playing in a lot of pain except for me and him.”

He’s expected to once again play through that pain against UCLA and its porous pass defense, but Criner’s clearly been unable to stay healthy, and his production is slipping because of it.

“Hopefully we can get four quarters out of him at some point,” Nichol said.

After recording double-digit catches twice last season, Criner has yet to make 10 catches in a game. He also went over 100 yards in five games last season, but has only done that against NAU this year.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver emerged as one of the nation’s top wideouts last season, catching 82 balls for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was a second-team All-American and an expected early-round draft pick.

But Criner, who is off-limits to the media for the season, hasn’t been close to the same electric receiver that dominated the conference last year. If he hopes to rise up draft boards, Criner needs a big game tonight.

“Hopefully he can push through Thursday,” Nichol said. “He’ll want to — that’s never been a question.”

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