The Arizona Wildcats' first two games have been a blur of yards, points and pleasant surprises - many of them brought to you by Austin Hill.
The sophomore wide receiver has been the UA's biggest receiving threat so far this season. In two starts at inside receiver, the 6-foot-3-inch, 211-pound Hill has caught 12 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown. His 131.5 receiving yards per game is tied for most in the Pac-12. Nobody in the conference can top his 21.9 yards-per-touch average.
First-year coach Rich Rodriguez likes what he's seen from Hill, who was limited in spring because of a neck injury. Hill is expected to start again Saturday, when the Wildcats take on FCS opponent South Carolina State at Arizona Stadium.
"He's a big guy who can play all four receiver positions. He understands the game. Just a great young man," Rodriguez said. "We've seen glimpses of that in practices, but in games, he's been even better."
Hill talked to the media this week about his hot start, new position and leaping grabs.
What's been working so well for you?
A: "The offensive scheme is working a lot for me, especially inside receiver. Also, Matt (Scott) has been throwing me the ball. Matt's been doing an excellent job in getting the ball to all the receivers."
Is there something to be said for the rapport between a quarterback and a receiver?
A: "We're from the same area, from California. I didn't get to play against him or with him in high school, but we knew of each other. You know, as a receiver, if you catch the ball when the quarterback throws you the ball, you're going to build a trust with him. All us receivers have built a trust with Matt, and Matt trusts us all."
What do you like about what Matt brings to the table?
A: "He's real mobile. I like his mobility. He can always get out and throw you the ball. He is always looking to throw you the ball, and run last, which is a thing us receivers love because you never want to run a route and have the quarterback just running for dear life and not looking to throw the ball."
Are you surprised the team has been throwing so much?
A: "I knew we were going to throw the ball a lot, but probably not as much as we have been. I knew that as receivers we were going to have opportunities to make plays for the team, and we've done that."
You can play all four receiver positions?
A: "Yes. I was moved around a lot during the summer: outside to inside, back to outside a little bit, back to inside. At first, I didn't really like it just because I expected to be an outside receiver. But it gave me an opportunity to learn every single position, so no matter who goes down or no matter what happens during the game, I can go and play any position on the field."
Where are you most comfortable?
A: "As of right now, I'm more comfortable with the inside because I've had a little bit of success on the inside. I would love to go back outside, but it's up to the coaches. No matter where they put me, I'm going to play."
What's the biggest advantage of playing inside receiver instead of outside?
A: "Going against the linebackers more. As a receiver, I was taught to read triangles. I feel that being able to play linebacker to safety is a lot easier than playing against a corner who has more freedom to move around and do what he wants to do, whereas linebackers have to play the run at the same time they're defending you, trying to free up the line. Playing against the linebackers, they're less mobile. … It's easier for me to get over the middle, where most defenses leave it open."
You made a leaping catch against Toledo. Is that something you can prepare for, or does it just happen?
A: "It is more natural reaction. In practice, I lay out for balls, maybe catch a few, drop a few, and not make it to a couple of others. But just practicing laying out in practice helped me. But I feel that in game situations, most of it is just reaction. If I can run under it, I would run under it, but that gut reaction just tells you that you can't get to it, that you've got to lay out."
On StarNet: Ryan Finley will answer your questions about the UA football program today with a live chat at noon. Go to live.azstarnet.com
Pac-12 receiving leaders
Rk. Name School Rec. Yds. TD YPG
1. Austin Hill Arizona 12 263 1 131.5
Marquise Lee USC 21 263 4 131.5
3. Chris Coyle Arizona State 12 196 2 98.0
4. Dan Buckner Arizona 16 176 0 88.0
5. Markus Wheaton Oregon State 8 87 0 87.0
6. Brandin Cooks Oregon State 6 80 1 80.0
7. Chris Harper California 12 151 1 75.5
8. Keenan Allen California 11 136 1 68.0
9. Robert Woods USC 16 135 4 67.5
10. Austin Seferian-Jenkins Washington 15 133 0 66.5
• What: South Carolina State at Arizona
• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
• TV: Pac-12 Arizona: Comcast (Ch 103); Cox (Ch 75); Dish Network (Ch 445); DirecTV, not available
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)