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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Arizona football’s win over Colorado didn’t come easy

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Rebecca Marie Sasnett

Arizona safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant (21) scoops and scores a touchdown after Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau fumbled during the first half of Arizona’s 38-20 win against Colorado at Arizona Stadium on Saturday. The Wildcats scored 28 points off of turnovers against the Buffaloes.

As the lights went out in Arizona Stadium, Arizona football knew it had done something right. Coming off a tough loss against UCLA, the No. 17 Wildcats left their alumni smiling in their 100th anniversary Homecoming victory 38-20 against the Colorado Buffaloes in front of a crowd of 50,177. Arizona will get an increase in its wins column, but it sure didn’t come easy.

Colorado jumped to an early lead with a 75-yard touchdown on its opening drive, pinning the Wildcats and leaving the crowd stunned in disbelief. The Colorado game was one that should have come easy to the Wildcats, but at halftime, the teams were separated by just four points.

“Our guys love to play and compete,” Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “They don’t panic, and there is adversity that will strike in every game. It didn’t go down to the last couple of minutes, but I think our guys’ mindset is that they are prepared to compete until the end.”

The UA defense came to play against the Buffaloes, disrupting the Colorado offense and forcing four turnovers. It was the most turnovers forced by the team since 2012, when it defeated USC.

Emergence of Samajie Grant
The 5-foot-9 sophomore receiver from Compton, Calif., had quite the day for the Wildcats with 83 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

“Samajie played as a freshman last year and he learned all four receiver positions,” Rodriguez said. “What I thought after reviewing the film from last year coming into this season is that he is one of our best football players.”

This season, Grant has totaled 381 yards receiving and three touchdowns. The stats make him Arizona’s third-best receiver, a place that Grant has had to earn.

“He is a very competitive guy and he can play inside and outside,” Rodriguez said. “He is overlooked sometimes … literally, because he isn’t very tall. He is a really good football player and he made some great plays tonight.”

Grant proved that nobody would be able to stop him against Colorado, even hurdling over Colorado defensive back Evan White during the first quarter.

“It’s funny because this week I caught a pass and just jumped in the air acting like I was hurdling over one of the scout team players,” Grant said. “He didn’t come under, but I’ve just been waiting on that all season.”

Although Grant is doing pretty well for the football team, maybe he should try out for the Arizona basketball team with those hops.

The Dual Threat QB & Injuries
Redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon channeled his inner B.J. Denker against the Buffaloes, rushing for 115 yards and throwing for 211 yards and four touchdowns. The 115 yards marked a career-high for Solomon.

“Anu Solomon really competed and ran well,” Rodriguez said. “His running was probably the difference for us offensively.”

Solomon doesn’t like unwanted attention, but during this week, he got plenty.

“His ankle has been bothering him,” Rodriguez said. “I told him to walk around campus with one of those boots on. I told him, ‘You are going to get people talking about it,’ and he said he needed a disguise. He is a tough guy, and he may not burst for 40 yards, but he made some big runs tonight, and that made the difference for us.”

Injuries have plagued the Wildcats this season, with many of the starters having to sit out some games. Freshman Nick Wilson has been banged up this season, redshirt senior Terris Jones-Grigsby has been hurt, redshirt sophomore DaVonte’ Neal has had issues with injuries and the list goes on. Yet, the Wildcats seem to find just the right player to replace the injured; just look at cornerback Devin Holiday, who came in for the banged-up Cam Denson and got a 16-yard interception.

Guess Who’s Back
Senior Tra’Mayne Bondurant was off the team just a few months ago in August. Against Colorado, he proved his worth, scooping up a forced fumble and running it back 22 yards for an Arizona touchdown, which kicked off the UA turnover party.

“When I made that touchdown, I just saw the ball bounce, and I knew I had to get it,” Bondurant said. “It’s a great feeling.”

In his career, Bondurant now has four defensive touchdowns and has added 33 tackles this season. Even though he has frequently been on the injury report this season, Bondurant made sure that everybody knows he is healthy.

“Physically right now, I’m okay,” Bondurant said. “I guarantee everyone on the team has some bumps and bruises, but I’m doing very well.”

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Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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