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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats facing Cardinal at just the right time

Wally Skalij
Stanford's Christian McCaffrey (5) dives over the USC defenders but comes up short at the 1-yard line in the second quarter at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

With Homecoming this week at the UA, the Wildcats welcome Stanford to Arizona Stadium on Saturday at 8 p.m.

UA football is fresh off of a bye and looking to avenge its four-game losing streak. The UA did not get a bye week last season, but this year’s team is using it to recover a little from all its injuries.

“It was certainly a much-needed bye week,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We got a couple days of practice to work on some fundamentals and get a head start on Stanford.”

After starting the season 2-1 with the one loss coming by two points, Arizona has gone into a freefall lately. They will need to win at least four of their next five games to make a bowl, but they are not lacking for confidence.

“Maybe not winning the Pac-12 is in the cards, but I am still thinking we can win the next five games,” said quarterback Brandon Dawkins. “I am not gonna let us not get to a bowl game this season.”

If Arizona is to stop Stanford, their team comes and goes with do-it-all Christian McCaffrey. While he is not having an incredible season like his 2015 campaign, he is still one of the best running backs in the nation. His rushing average is down from six yards to 5.1 and his scrimmage yardage per game dipped from 190 yards a game to 132.

“It is almost unrealistic for anybody to reach that hype, but watching him play, he is the same guy when healthy,” Rodriguez said. “A large part of their offense, and certainly their special teams, goes through him.”

Just like Arizona, Stanford has had an ongoing quarterback controversy this season, and Keller Chryst gets the nod this week. Chryst is 7-for-18 for 63 yards and an interception this season and has seen playing time in six of their seven games.

Either Dawkins or Anu Solomon will start Saturday against Stanford, and Rodriguez believes having both quarterbacks will help them moving forward. Solomon has not played since the season-opening loss against BYU due to a lingering knee injury but could see action Saturday.

Due to injuries and suspensions at running back, wide receiver Samajie Grant made the jump from wide receiver to running back and is getting acclimated to it.

“He looks good back there; it is not too different as he is another short guy,” Dawkins said. “He is too athletic to not have the ball in his hands, so anytime we can get him the ball will help.”

Grant has 19 catches for 251 yards and three touchdowns this season, but he has yet to carry the ball this season. Running backs Nick Wilson and J.J. Taylor are both out with ankle issues, so Grant and Zach Green will need to complement the offense Saturday.

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.

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