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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football looks to fend off vengeful No. 24 Utah for first Pac-12 win

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Zi Yang Lai
Arizona defense traps Utah runningback Davontae Booker during Arizona’s 37-30 win over Utah on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Arizona Stadium.

Arizona football heads to Utah to take on the No. 24 Utes on the gridiron Saturday. Utah is coming off of a heartbreaking loss of 28-23 at California. Utah drove all the way to the 1-yard line, but was unable to punch it in as time expired.

Arizona is looking to get back to .500 as the Wildcats sit at 2-3 after a 45-24 loss to UCLA last weekend. While its performance was not the best, the team said the loss was due to a lack of execution rather than game plan.

“There is nothing that we did in the game that needs to be changed; we just need to be better,” cornerback Davonte’ Neal said. “We need to do our assignments better and cover better. We went in there prepared; we just did not perform.”

Arizona upset a No. 10-ranked Utah team in overtime last season to ruin the Utes’ possible bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game, so Utah will be looking for revenge Saturday night. The Wildcats pulled off a 38-31 upset capped off by Nate Phillips’s game-winning touchdown in overtime on Senior Night.

Under head coach Rich Rodriguez, Arizona has had success in this series, winning the last four matchups over Utah.

RELATED: Arizona shocks No. 10 Utah in 37-30 double-overtime thriller on Senior Night

The Utes are led by quarterback Troy Williams, who has thrown for 1,259 yards and six touchdowns to four interceptions this season. Tim Patrick leads the Utes in every receiving category with 24 catches for 429 yards and five of Williams’ six touchdowns. While Williams’ numbers don’t jump off of the page, Arizona is not taking this signal caller lightly.

“He is definitely a good quarterback,” Arizona safety Paul Magloire said. “He is accurate and he is athletic, so it is something you see on film that jumps off screen.”

For the Utes, this game is about getting back on track in the Pac-12 South. At 1-1 in conference play, they are one game back of division leader and No. 21-ranked Colorado. Utah is in a three-way tie for second with UCLA and ASU, so this game is important for the sense of positioning.

RELATED: Week 5 Pac-12 football power rankings

Injuries have decimated Arizona this season as 28 Wildcats made the injury report this week, including 18 starters. The Wildcats’ bye week is not for another two weeks, so head coach Rich Rodriguez could be shorthanded against Utah on Saturday and USC next week.

One of Saturday’s biggest question marks is who will take the snaps for Arizona. With injuries to both Anu Solomon and Brandon Dawkins, freshman Khalil Tate could see some action—and as a starter.

Tate saw the field in the loss to UCLA and went 5-for-9 for 72 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 79 yards on 15 carriers.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Foxsports Network. The Wildcats return to Tucson next weekend to take on USC for Family Weekend.


Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.


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