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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wide receiver end around opens run game

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets UCLA in an NCAA football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 24, 2009. Arizona up 13-3 at the half
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets UCLA in an NCAA football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 24, 2009. Arizona up 13-3 at the half

In a game where quarterback Nick Foles was shaky and Arizona running backs spent more time at the trainer’s table than on the field, the Wildcat football team needed a different way to move the ball on offense. 

The solution: the wide receiver end-around.

Foles threw three interceptions and starting running back Nic Grigsby only saw nine carries due to a right shoulder injury sustained late in the first half of Saturday’s win over UCLA. That left it up to the Arizona wide receivers to use their wheels and keep the chains moving.

“”It definitely opens up the field,”” said sophomore receiver and player of the game Juron Criner. “”It makes our offense that much more of a threat. With the offensive line blocking, they do their thing up front, we do our thing when we get the ball.””

Heading into Saturday’s game, Arizona receivers carried the ball a combined 13 times in six games. In the team’s 27-13 win against UCLA, the receivers ran nine times for 98 yards.

“”We have a lot of playmakers,”” said senior receiver Terrell Turner. “”All of us, we get the ball and we go straight up field. That’s what the coaches preach so that’s what we go out and do.””

Turner carried the ball twice for 14 yards, while Criner and Delashaun Dean each ran it three times for 39 yards and 45 yards, respectively.

Although offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes admitted the increased use of the end-around was partially a product of the team’s injuries at running back, it was clear that UCLA couldn’t stop the Wildcat’s outside rushing attack.

All but three of the end-around plays — or fly sweeps as head coach Mike Stoops calls them — went for Arizona first downs. UCLA’s interior running defense was solid, but when an Arizona wide out came sprinting in motion on the way to a Foles hand off, the Bruins had no answer.

As the game went on, the UCLA defense started looking for the end-around. That opened up holes inside the Bruin defense for UA sophomore running back Keola Antolin who finished the game with 77 yards on 16 carries.

“”(The wide receivers) spread the defense out more so they open up lanes for us and we just got to hit it, and that’s what we did,”” Antolin said. “”It kept them on their toes and that’s where we want them to be.””

Senior safety Cam Nelson explained how difficult the fly sweep can make it on a defense. Nelson spoke of how frustrating it was when Oregon State ran it successfully against the Wildcats last year, and how it is yet another thing the defense has to worry about stopping. The Arizona offense mixed in a couple of fakes and passes off of the end-around, keeping the Bruins defense constantly guessing. As for whether or not this wide receiver running attack will be a key element of the Arizona offense in the coming weeks, Stoops considers the fly sweep part of the team’s offensive attack.

“”I think those become pretty much everyday plays now in this era of football,”” Stoops said. “”Those fly sweeps or reverses become almost normal plays on most teams.””

It is almost a guarantee that the receivers will not see nine carries against Washington State in less than two weeks, but if the running backs continue to get dinged up, anything is possible.

“”We’ll see what we have,”” Dykes jokingly said, “”maybe some of those receivers can play running back for us.””

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