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    Crier earns Pac-10 award

    Crier earns Pac-10 award

    Through all the inconsistency that has plagued Arizona football this season, special teams have continued to come through making big plays.

    Wildcats punter Keenyn Crier was named the Pacific 10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after booting seven punts for 336 yards in a loss to then-No. 10 USC on Saturday. His highlight was an 83-yarder that pinned the Trojans on their own 1-yard line.

    Ironically, Crier’s punt fell one yard short of the school record for longest punt, set by Bill Hargis in 1930.

    “”Being a punter, I can really turn the game with field position, and that is what I did in the USC game,”” Crier said. “”I didn’t want (the punt returner) to catch it, so I just kicked it over his head, and it landed on the 1-yard line. That was pretty cool. I didn’t expect that to happen.

    “”I am proud of myself, and am surprised at myself, too,”” he added.

    It wasn’t just a lucky punt that landed Crier the award, however. The redshirt freshman was consistent the entire game, as three of his punts landed inside the Trojan 5-yard line.

    Crier averages 44.4 yards per punt, which leads the Pac-10 and ranks 12th in NCAA Division I-A.

    “”We knew he was a raw talent, but he had a great leg,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”It shows you the potential. His leg can be as good as there is. He is going to be a big-time player.””

    Grigsby likely to continue in starting role

    Despite being pulled in the second quarter Saturday following a fumble, freshman running back Nick Grisby will most likely remain the starter when Arizona hosts Stanford this weekend, Stoops said.

    Senior Chris Jennings, who started at running back for the first two weeks of the season, replaced Grigsby, catching five balls out of the backfield for 68 yards while also helping set up the Wildcats for their only touchdown.

    “”C.J. stepped up big for us,”” said quarterback Willie Tuitama. “”He’s been down a little bit, but he just kept working. He never gave up and he came out and proved himself.””

    After Grigsby put the ball on the ground in the second quarter, USC turned the miscue into three points, adding a field goal to extend its lead to 10-0. Grigsby didn’t return for the remainder of the contest.

    “”I know (Jennings) has been a little disappointed, and he did a good job making some plays when he got the ball in his hands,”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”That’s what we’ve expected from him all year.””

    Stoops said he envisions both starting candidates seeing touches against the Cardinal.

    “”I would imagine that Nick will probably start, and where we go from there is kind of how the game will unfold,”” Stoops said. “”Nick did some good things. He was just careless with the football.””

    Stoops not happy with Wildcats’ fumble woes

    After Arizona avoided a fumble by its running backs the entire 2006 season, the Wildcats are far from a repeat performance.

    The Wildcats have fumbled the ball 16 times – turning it over on half those occasions.

    “”We can’t turn the ball over like we did and win,”” Stoops said. “”(Jennings) was doing some good things, so that is why we stuck with Chris. I think we would have (put Grigsby back in) had Chris not made some plays.””

    Stoops showed his intolerance for fumbling Saturday as he pulled Grigsby for the remainder of the game and sat down freshman tight end Rob Gronkowski for a large portion of the game after his first-quarter fumble.

    “”There has to be some consequences for putting the ball on the ground, and that is football,”” Stoops said. “”The first thing you learn as a running back is you can’t put the ball on the ground, and we have been putting the ball on the ground.””

    Turnovers have proven to be costly to the Wildcats, as the squad is just 1-4 this season when losing the turnover battle.

    “”We work (fumble drills) daily, so it is something that is just carelessness with the football,”” Stoops said. “”When you turn over the football it just eliminates everything you did well.””

    – Mike Ritter contributed to this story

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