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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Defense continues to defy expectations

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats take on The Citadel Bulldogs Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson Ariz. The Wildcats rolled the Bulldogs 52-6 to earn their second win of the season.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats take on The Citadel Bulldogs Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson Ariz. The Wildcats rolled the Bulldogs 52-6 to earn their second win of the season.

While a dominating victory over The Citadel Saturday night didn’t shock anyone, there were still some notable developments that came from Arizona’s 52-6 victory.

The defense shined once again, the running game regained traction, a couple of key players got banged up during the action, all resulting in a No. 24 AP ranking for Arizona.

Defense shines again

Although The Citadel ran possibly the nation’s most predictable offense, the Wildcat defense still proved to be electric. For the second consecutive week, Arizona defensive ends, linemen, linebackers and defensive backs were flying all over the field, further proving the speed of head coach Mike Stoops’ defensive unit.

“”I think our ends are unbelievable players, just their speed, their experience. You put that with our younger guys inside. Really pleased with them,”” Stoops said. “”I think Jake (Fischer), Paul (Vassallo) and Derek (Earls) are all very, very good players for playing such a small amount of time, they’re really starting to get it.””

Senior strong safety Joe Perkins led Arizona in tackles with eight (six solo), while defensive tackle Justin Washington, defensive end Brooks Reed and linebacker Earls all collected sacks.

Fischer had another impressive game at linebacker as well, collecting five total tackles and two tackles for a loss.

“”We have a mixture,”” Stoops added. “”Our corners are very experienced, our ends are very experienced, our nose guard, it’s not like we’re lacking good players, I’ve always said that. “”

Running game catching up

After an underwhelming ground attack against Toledo, the Wildcats proved they aren’t just a passing team against The Citadel, racking up 214 rushing yards (5.9 yards per carry) and five touchdowns.

Senior back Nic Grigsby went for 115 yards and three scores, matching his 2009 season total for touchdowns (5), while tying for third-most in Arizona history (25).

“”Nic had a couple great runs. He always does that. You give him a little bit of space, that’s where he’s very dangerous in the open field,”” Stoops said. “”You give him a crease and he can close out runs we just have to continue creating a little bit of space for him because he can make the first guy miss as well as anybody.””

Third-string running back Greg Nwoko also impressed in mop-up duty, totaling 72 yards and two touchdowns. The Wildcats have the personnel to be effective on the ground, which is a balance Stoops sees as necessary for a successful team.

“”We don’t want to become a soft football team,”” Stoops said. “”We don’t want to rely on the pass. We want to be able to win games running the football and sometimes you have to do that.””

Washington stellar again

One game after recording his first career sack as a Wildcat, redshirt freshman Justin Washington started his first collegiate game and once again proved his worth.

The 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle picked up his second sack in as many games, while collecting six total tackles — two for a loss.

“”Justin continues to play well. He’s got a chance to be a great player,”” Stoops said. “”He’s just a redshirt freshman, he’s going to get better and better.””

Defensive end Brooks Reed added: “”He’s playing great. It seems like every time he’s in he’s in the backfield.””

Arizona cracks the Top 25

Arizona is in the AP Top 25 for the first time this season, coming in at No. 24. The Wildcats became the fifth Pacific 10 Conference team to join the Top 25 on Saturday, joining Oregon, USC, Stanford and Oregon State.

Arizona also jumped up to No. 18 in the USA Today poll after being slotted at the No. 23 spot last week.

Injury report

Making it through the first two weeks unscathed injury-wise was a huge goal for Arizona. The Wildcats did that for the most part, aside from a few minor injuries to wide receiver Juron Criner and safety Adam Hall.

Criner left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder problem, but Stoops said keeping him out was purely precautionary.

“”He hurt his shoulder a little bit on the crack back block,”” Stoops said of Criner. “”He was fine. We just felt like we didn’t have to play him.””

Hall injured his shoulder on special teams for the second week in a row, and was in a sling after the game.

Attention turned to Iowa

Virtually every Arizona player and coach hammered across the point that they wouldn’t even think about next weekend’s Iowa game until after the game against The Citadel. But Reed admitted that Iowa was on his mind a bit prematurely.

“”I was thinking about it at halftime like, ‘man I’m going to be a lot more tired next halftime,'”” he said.

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