Arizona wide receiver Terrence Miller catches one of his seven passes on his way to career-high 116 yards against USC on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. DEAN KNUTH / ARIZONA DAILY STAR

Its receiver depth limited by injuries, Arizona turned to a new weapon - sophomore Terrence Miller.

The 6-foot, 4-inch Moreno Valley, Calif., native said he didn't know until Saturday that he would play a bigger role than usual in the No. 18 Cats' game against USC.

He delivered a breakout game, catching seven passes for a career-high and team-high 116 yards in the Wildcats' 24-21 loss Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. He also ran for 13 yards on two carries.

"It's always exciting whenever you get on the field and you usually don't see much time, but you've got to get focused," he said. "The excitement a couple minutes before the game, you've got to throw that out the window and just get ready to play."

Miller entered the game having caught seven passes for 54 yards this season. His previous high for a game was three receptions for 26 yards last week against Stanford. He had one catch apiece in his four other games.

By halftime, Miller led the Cats with 88 yards on five catches. The longest catch was for 27 yards.

"He's a big target out there, and he really caught the ball over the middle well, and that was good to see, a guy who hadn't played much," coach Mike Stoops said. "We've been pretty banged up at receiver and running back, so Terrence stepping in there and playing well was good to see."

Wide receivers David Roberts (concussion) and Bug Wright (sprained ankle) didn't play. Juron Criner finished with 98 yards on six catches despite an ankle problem.

Miller said he goes into practice each week focused and prepared to be successful. He said he's unsure if he'll have a bigger role, but he'll continue working hard.

Last season, he played in seven games and caught two passes for 26 yards, including a 22-yarder against Washington State.

"I'm a confident person, so I've been waiting for my chance and when I get my chance I'm trying to make the best of it. I feel like that's what I did," he said.

During Arizona's final drive, Miller caught a 17-yard pass and an 11-yard pass from quarterback Nick Foles.

"Terrence stepped up and made a bunch of big plays," said David Douglas, who caught six passes for 44 yards and two touchdowns. "Richard (Morrison) stepped up and made a bunch of big plays, Travis (Cobb) did (too)."

Morrison, a redshirt freshman, also saw more time, catching four passes for 38 yards. He entered the game with seven catches for 70 yards.

A benchmark

Sophomore safety Adam Hall, a Palo Verde High School product, got his first interception with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter.

"I feel the game has slowed down a lot more than last year," Hall said.

Personnel updates

• Alex Zendejas took over punting duties for Keenyn Crier in the fourth quarter and punted twice. Stoops said Crier has been having trouble pooch punting.

Zendejas also missed a 34-yard field goal in the first quarter.

"The kicking game hasn't been very good lately," Stoops said.

• Freshman Shaquille Richardson started in place of junior Trevin Wade at cornerback. It was Richardson's second career start. He finished with four solo tackles, including one for a loss of one yard. Wade registered two tackles, one solo.

Random notes

Cobb's 31-yard touchdown reception before halftime to cut USC's lead to 21-14 was his first of the season. He has two touchdowns on kickoff returns. … Saturday marked the first time this season Arizona has given up more than 10 points in the first quarter. USC led 14-0. …It was the second straight game the Cats allowed 21 points in the first half.