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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona at Oregon State: Players to watch


Juron Criner, wide receiver

Criner finished last season with 1,233 yards receiving and was poised to break that mark coming into this season, but so far, he hasn’t come near the dominance he showed flashes of last season.

An appendectomy kept him sidelined against Oklahoma State, but since his return, Criner has only caught two touchdown passes and hasn’t recorded a 100-yard receiving game, something that seemed to be happening every week for him last year. On the road this weekend, Criner’s contributions will be crucial to Arizona’s success.

Adam Hall, safety

With the Wildcats’ defense ranking as one of the worst in the country, it’s guaranteed that head coach Mike Stoops will try to get Hall playing as soon as he can. Hall went down in spring ball with an ACL tear and has spent the start of the season on the sideline trying to recover.

Last season, the junior’s physical and vocal presence contributed to defensive success and Hall would certainly bring some leadership to a struggling and very young Arizona defensive corps.
He most likely won’t get the start on Saturday, but look for him to see some action.

Alex Zendejas/John Bonano, place kickers

There appeared to be little confidence from Mike Stoops in his decision to give Zendejas the starting job on Saturday after Zendejas missed his first two extra points on the road against USC last week.

If Zendejas continues his trend this week, look for Bonano to get some scoring chances for the Wildcats. With the way the kicking game has been going this year, and Bonano’s ability to put the ball deep on kickoffs, Stoops could be looking at him to try and revitalize it.

Oregon State

James Rodgers, wide receiver

When the Beavers visited Tucson last season, the senior receiver tore his ACL on a hit from Adam Hall in the end zone. Two surgeries later, Rodgers will be looking to make a statement against the Wildcats this weekend.

With a combination of lethal speed and athleticism, Rodgers constantly breaks his coverage and brings down the pass. He didn’t play in the first two games of the season, but since coming back he’s caught 10 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Sean Mannion, quarterback

The redshirt freshman Mannion is the youngest quarterback to start for the Beavers since 1998, and while his numbers haven’t been the greatest and OSU has yet to win a game, OSU head coach Mike Riley says that he’s growing every game.

Despite the Beavers getting shut out on the road against Wisconsin at the beginning of September, Mannion still managed to complete 25 passes for 244 yards. In his last outing, Mannion was picked off by the ASU defense four times, but he should be refocused against the Wildcats this weekend.

Johnny Hekker, punter

Watch to see if Hekker steps on the field on Saturday; USC punter Kyle Negrete was a spectator on the sidelines throughout last week’s contest. It was the first time that the Wildcats, under Stoops, failed to force a punt. For the Wildcats to get their first win in four games, the defense is going to have to step up on third down. It’s very hard to win ball games without forcing a punt, and it will be a small victory for the Wildcats if Hekker appears on Saturday.

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