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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Sonny days for offense

Sophomore+receiver+Juron+Criner+keeps+his+eyes+on+the+ball+during+Arizona%3Fs+27-13+victory+over+the+UCLA+Bruins+Saturday.+Criner+hauled+in+two+touchdown+passes+from+quarterback+Nick+Foles+as+the+offense+did+enough+to+get+a+win+and+the+defense+dominated.
Sophomore receiver Juron Criner keeps his eyes on the ball during Arizona?s 27-13 victory over the UCLA Bruins Saturday. Criner hauled in two touchdown passes from quarterback Nick Foles as the offense did enough to get a win and the defense dominated.

Things are going very, very well for the Arizona football program. The Wildcats have won two in a row, and with Washington State next on the schedule it’s looking like a hat trick is on the way.

A No. 22 ranking in the Bowl Championship Series last week led the Wildcats to be ranked No. 23 in yesterday’s Associated Press Poll, and the BCS ranking will likely improve when the new rankings are released later this week.

Nick Foles is a savior, and Mike Stoops’ plan to turn the program around is finally coming to fruition.

But it’s time that the man perhaps most responsible for Arizona football’s renaissance steps into the national spotlight. Wildcat fans, the next time you’re on campus you should seek out offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, shake his hand and thank him for all that he’s done.

Consider this: Arizona’s offense this season has suffered through a quarterback controversy that at one time seemed disastrous, has fielded six different offensive line combinations because of injury, been down to its third- and fourth-string running backs on more than one occasion and lost its best player, tight end Rob Gronkowski, for the year before the season even started. Yet the Wildcats have the most productive offense in the Pacific 10 Conference with 445.4 yards per game.

And it all comes down to play calling.

Foles’ emergence as a top-flight quarterback has been faster than the speed of light, and while the sophomore deserves all the credit he is getting, it would be foolish to think that he’d have gotten this good this quickly without Dykes’ tutelage.

Arizona’s offense is unique. Can you name one team that throws as many screens as the Wildcats do? What about all those quick-hooks and quick-slants? Sure, those plays are common, but does any team run those more than Arizona?

No, and that’s because Dykes is an innovator. He calls plays and designs game plans that fit his personnel to a “”T.”” Foles is leading the entire country with a completion percentage of 72.3 percent, which is absolutely unheard of. The quarterback still has to make the throws, but credit Dykes for fueling one of the most efficient offenses in the nation.

It doesn’t always look pretty.

Take Saturday’s win over UCLA, for example. The Wildcats had five turnovers on the day, yet they managed to pile up 456 yards of offense. Sometimes the offense is a sharp as a tack and sometimes it just looks plain sloppy, but when you look at the stat sheet after the game, it’s expected that the Wildcats will somehow, some way have more than 400 yards to their name.

But Dykes means so much more to the program than just being an offensive mastermind.

He is, hands down, one of the most genuine and approachable men on the coaching staff. He’s just as much a father and mentor to his players as he is a coach, and he handles the media with such grace and openness that he’s become a magnet for interview requests.

He has spearheaded Arizona’s movement to a spread offense ever since he came over from Texas Tech, and has turned the Wildcats from a defense-first team to a squad with one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the nation. He has opened recruiting doors to the state of Texas and enabled Arizona to bring in recruits it never would have dreamed of 10 years ago.

He’s an asset, a motivator and a genius.

And you should really learn to appreciate what he’s doing, Wildcat fans, because it’s only a matter of time before he’s a head coach somewhere else.

And let me tell you, he deserves it.

— Tim Kosch is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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