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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


‘Cats too tough for Chippewas

Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Maybe it was the full moon in the Tucson sky. It could have been the 43-minute lightning delay before the game. Or perhaps it was the absence of star UA tight end Rob Gronkowski, but the Arizona football team played stout defense and executed well enough on offense to earn a 19-6 win against a scrappy Central Michigan team Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.

“”We missed some scoring opportunities and that’s a little bit of Robbie (being out),”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”He’s a big part of our red-zone offense and not having him tonight hurt a little bit.

“”We’ve got to find ways to be more creative with some of our play calling to maybe get some more opportunities,”” he added. “”But Central Michigan played an excellent football game. Defensively I thought they really ran their (linebackers) through some holes and made it difficult for us to run some of our plays.””

Matt Scott started the game at quarterback for Arizona and showed flashes his play making ability, but for the most part, the sophomore was inconsistent at the helm of the UA offense. Scott finished the night 19-of-30 for 202 yards and added 83 yards on the ground on 9 carries, but he could have had a better night if he was more consistent with his accuracy.

Three times Scott overthrew a wide open Wildcat receiver, and on two of those occasions Arizona might have scored if the passes were on the money. But despite Scott’s up-and-down night, there were still positives in his performance.

“”I thought I did OK. I made a couple mistakes, missed a couple receivers that were open,”” Scott said. “”I’m going to look at the film and come back and I’m going to make some changes. That’s not going to happen next game.””

Even with an erratic showing by Scott, Arizona’s offense did have some standout performances. Staring running back Nic Grigsby had 118 yards on 23 carries and the teams’ only touchdown, but it was sophomore Juron Criner who might have had the most productive night for the Wildcats. The Las Vegas native hauled in four balls for 54 yards, only behind Terrell Turner who caught six passes for 55 yards.

UA kicker Alex Zendejas, who struggled through fall camp, gained some much needed confidence as he connected on four out of five field goal attempts, with the four makes tying an Arizona record.

With the Wildcat offense sputtering throughout most of the game, the UA defense took that opportunity to show that it will be a tough group to move the ball against. Central Michigan didn’t record a first down until 1:09 remained before half time. In all, a spirited Wildcat defense limited the Chippewas to 182 offensive yards on the night. Highly touted CMU quarterback Dan LeFevour was held in check for most of the night as he finished the contest with 108 yards on 18-of-31 passing and added another 18 yards on the ground — his third-lowest total during his 40-game NCAA career.

Even with a solid showing from a statistical standpoint, the UA defense expects similar showings during the rest of the season.

“”I felt like our guys were in position all night,”” said Arizona defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”They played extremely hard and I’m just proud of their overall effort.””

While Arizona started the season off on the right foot earning a win against a Central Michigan team with its fair share play makers, the Wildcats were far from satisfied with the 10-point win. They committed a slew of errors — one turnover and five penalties for 45 yards on the night — and had a tough time putting the Chippewas away. But Arizona will take a win anyway they come.

“”The thing that I’m proud of is that two years ago this is a game that we probably would’ve lost,”” said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”I think we would’ve found a way to lose the game in the past, but we found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t necessarily the way we wanted to win, but we’ll take a win anytime.””

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