UA FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Tutogi, younger brother expect to make contact

2012-10-15T00:00:00Z 2012-10-15T13:17:56Z Arizona football: Tutogi, younger brother expect to make contactRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 15, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The Tutogi brothers will almost certainly meet at some point Saturday, a navy No. 31 jersey colliding with a white No. 50 jersey going full-speed.

Arizona's Taimi Tutogi will forget, for a second, about the 20 years that connect him to his younger brother Thomas, Washington's star linebacker.

"He's still wearing the 'W' on his chest, right? I've got to treat him like anybody else," Taimi Tutogi said. "At the end of the play, I'm going to help him up. … He's my little brother. I love him to death."

Both have mattered, in a big way, to their teams through the first half of the 2012 season.

Playing both fullback and defensive end, Taimi Tutogi has been perhaps the Wildcats' most versatile player. In six games, the senior from Chula Vista, Calif., has registered one tackle and recovered a fumble, and caught eight passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. His athletic spin-and-grab of a Matt Scott pass in last week's loss to Stanford was perhaps the most impressive play of the first six weeks of the Wildcats' season.

Thomas Tutogi, a junior linebacker, is Washington's most prolific tackler. Through six games, the Southwestern College transfer has 38 tackles.

The Star caught up with Taimi Tutogi as the Wildcats began preparations for Saturday's game against Washington. Here's what he said:

On growing up with Thomas in Chula Vista: "We did everything together. Wherever I went, if I didn't want him to go, my mom made me take him. I had my friends, he had his own friends, but he still wanted to come with me. I couldn't go anywhere without him; and if I couldn't take him, then I wasn't going. It definitely made us stronger."

On who the better tackler is: (Laughs) "Me, definitely. I'll always be faster than him, I'll always be stronger, I'll always jump higher. He'll never beat me up. I think he understands that. But being a D-I linebacker, to start in the Pac-12 - and especially at Washington, and they have a good defense - he must bring something to the table that's pretty good."

On whether he and Thomas will collide on the field: "Oh, definitely. If the right play's called, I'll definitely meet him in the hole. Last year, we were on all the opposite special teams - he was on punt return, I was on punt; I was on kick return, he was on kickoff. There's definitely going to be a chance to meet him. Regardless of who wins, it's going to fun, I think."

On the catch he made last week against Stanford: "It was all concentration. It was me to the fullest. Matt sent me up over the middle, and the guy hit me from behind. I looked for the ball, and it was way out of reach. The guy hit it with his back, I popped it with my elbow somehow and it landed on my stomach. When it landed on my stomach, I just grabbed it."

On his first reaction: "Dan Buckner asked me on the sidelines, 'Did you catch it?' I was like, 'I don't think so.' But the camera was right there when we were talking, so I didn't want to say no. I told him, 'I doubt I caught that,' but I did. I don't know if it touched the ground or not. It was a pretty crazy play. … I'm happy it worked out that way."

Upon further review: "I really thought it touched the ground and popped into my hands. After watching it on film, and on ESPN and stuff, I'm like, 'Wow, I guess I did catch it.'"

Up next

• Who: Washington at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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