Hot Sheet: Remembering Sonny (and no abusive language from S Flowers this time)

Arizona is in Berkeley, Calif., today to take on the 1-7 California Bears. With a win over former offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, now Cal's head coach, the Wildcats will have six wins and become bowl eligible. Get the skinny from Daniel Berk in our Hot Sheet.

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  • The most amazing part of Arizona’s 44-20 win over Colorado last week wasn’t B.J. Denker’s 54-yard run, Ralphie’s pregame jaunt around Folsom Field or Ka’Deem Carey’s four touchdowns.

    It came when Wildcat linebacker Marquis Flowers was penalized 15 yards for “abusive language.”

    No, really, that happened. Flowers, the UA’s starting weakside linebacker, was punished for using foul language when he was jawing with Colorado receiver Paul Richardson.

    “I didn’t even say anything that bad,” a smiling Flowers said this week. “I promise, it wasn’t that bad. He was saying the same stuff to me.”

    Either way, Flowers got flagged. UA coach Rich Rodriguez said it was a first for him to see a player called out for cursing.

    Flowers finished with six tackles — one for a loss — against Colorado and has 43 tackles on the season.

    We caught up with him this week.

    What’s been the biggest reason for the improvement by the UA’s defense this year?

    A: “I think you have to give credit to the back end and the guys that put in work in the offseason. They’ve been listening to the coaches and have been learning the scheme a little bit better. There’s still room for improvement. I think the whole defense was tired of hearing about last year. It wasn’t just the back-end guys. Everybody had a chip on their shoulder. Everybody went to work.

    “We’re improving and we still have a long ways to go, but we’re getting better every week and I think that’s important.”

    How important is it to improve the pass rush as the season progresses?

    A: “That’s a big thing. There’s a lot of good quarterbacks in the Pac-12, but when the quarterback has some pressure in his face, they have a tendency to make some mistakes and that’s why I tell the back-end guys that if we don’t get enough pressure then I’ll go back there and apologize, especially if I’m on a blitz. That’s all I want to do is get pressure on the quarterback because then you don’t know what can happen, he could throw it up to one of our guys.”

    What’s the biggest key to getting a road win today?

    A: “We have to come out and play our football. We can’t fall into what their record is because they’re way better than that and they have athletes and their offense is really good. They can make things happen. We just have to come ready to play and keep playing the way we have and keep improving.”

  • Date: Sept. 25, 2010

    What went down: Nick Foles found Juron Criner for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 to play to help UA pull out a 10-9 win over Cal in both teams’ conference opener. Foles went 25 for 39 for 212 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the win.

    How it read: Greg Hansen wrote that the 10-9 win left a lot to be desired, but the Wildcats got it done when it mattered. He wrote:

    “   ‘The good Lord was looking out for us tonight, for whatever reason,’ said (coach Mike) Stoops.

    “Could it be that the football gods owed the UA as much, especially after 25 years of nutty losses to the Cal Bears? Whatever, Saturday’s 10-9 victory squared the debt. At game’s end, Stoops raised his arms aloft, did a 360 while standing on the field, smiling broadly as if to ask those who stayed to the surprising end, ‘Do you believe that?’

    “Yes. We do.

    “Almost without exception, every Top 25 college football team pulls off a great escape during a 12-game season. There are too many close games and too many good teams to simply win out and stifle a yawn.”

    Turning point: Three plays before Foles found Criner for the winning score, the quarterback hit Criner for a 51-yard gain to get Arizona to Cal’s 12-yard line. After a 6-yard run from Nicolas Grigsby and an incomplete pass, Arizona scored.

    Stats that matter: Criner finished with 68 yards on five catches in the game, but 59 of those yards game on the final drive of the game. Grigsby finished with 65 yards on 12 carries.

    It’s history: The win made Arizona 4-0, and the Wildcats eventually moved to 7-1. But Stoops and the UA lost the last five games and finished 7-6, falling to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl. Cal finished 5-7 and missed out on a bowl game, losing its final game of the season to Washington 16-13.

  • Cal coach Sonny Dykes served as Arizona’s offensive coordinator from 2007-09. During that span, the UA went 21-17 and made trips to the Las Vegas Bowl and Holiday Bowl.

    Dykes had some fun with quarterbacks Willie Tuitama and Nick Foles in his time in Tucson before being hired as Louisiana Tech’s head coach.

    Here’s a look at the UA’s top five offensive games under Dykes.

    Year Opponent Score UA yards Offensive MVP

    2007 Washington State UA 48-20 567 QB Willie Tuitama: 22-31, 346 yards, 5 TDs

    2009 NAU UA 34-17 559 RB Nic Grigsby: 15 carries, 207 yards, 2 TDs

    2009 Stanford UA 43-38 553 QB Nick Foles: 40-51, 415 yards, 3 TDs

    2007 Washington UA 48-41 535 Tuitama: 38-51, 510 yards, 5 TDs

    2008 Washington State UA 59-28 531 Grigsby: 28 carries, 189 yards, TD

  • Sonny Dykes isn’t the only one who has spent time at both Cal and Arizona. In fact, there might be more connections between the Wildcats and Golden Bears than any other opponent the UA will face this season.


    Cal defensive ends coach Garret Chachere served as the UA’s wide receivers coach and running backs coach from 2009 to 2011.

    Arizona offensive line coach Jim Michalczik spent nine seasons over two stints at Cal. For the first seven seasons at Cal, Michalczik was the offensive line coach. He then left for a two-year stint with the Oakland Raiders. When he returned to Berkeley in 2011, he served as both offensive line coach and offensive coordinator.

    Arizona linebacker David Wilkerson played for the Golden Bears in 2010 and 2011. Wilkerson, a transfer, is currently redshirting. His most productive season came in 2011, when he played in 10 games. He picked up four sacks and 5½ tackles-for-loss.

    The connections between the two schools don’t end there.

    Ten sets of Cal and Arizona players were teammates in high school.

    The UA’s Jared Baker played with Cal’s Chad Smith, Cameron Walker and Cary Kriegsman at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

    Beau Boyster and Arlandis Hinton of Arizona played with Cal receiver Bryce Treggs at St. John Bosco High School in California. Wildcats Kylan Butler and David Redmon played with Michael Barton and Jackson Bouza of Cal at De La Salle High School in Northern California.

    Cal’s Matt Anderson, Zach Kline, Kyle Kragen, John Sheperdson and Patrick Worstell played with UA linebacker Ryan Dunn at San Ramon Valley High School in California. Arizona offensive lineman Faitele Faafoi and Cal’s Edward Tandy were teammates at Tustin High School in California.

    (We’re almost done.)

    UA quarterback Nick Isham played for Dykes at Louisiana Tech; before that, he was teammates with Cal’s Tony Mekari at Westlake High School in California.

    UA wide receiver Aaron Lacombe played with the Bears’ Raymond Davison at Crespi in Encino, Calif.

    Redshirting freshman safety David Price of the UA played with Kameron Jackson at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High School. Arizona quarterback Jesse Scroggins was teammates with Darius Powe and Todd Barr at Lakewood (Calif.) High School.

    Finally, UA quarterback Anu Solomon played with Cal’s Geoffrey Gibson at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman.

    Got all of that?

  • Running back Daniel Jenkins is one of the more vocal players on the UA. The fifth-year senior is known as one of the jokers of the team, though he can also be serious and deliver a meaningful message when needed.

    But it wasn’t always like that.

    When Jenkins was a true freshman in 2009, the Moreno Valley, Calif., native did what he was told and largely kept his mouth shut. And that was a good thing.

    Jenkins’ offensive coordinator that year was current Cal coach Sonny Dykes, who liked to be heard.

    “He was a very spirited person, to say the least,” Jenkins said. “He was a tough, hard coach. He’s one of those coaches that wants everything to be perfect.”

    In all, six current Wildcats — Jenkins, offensive lineman Eric Bender-Ramsay, running back Kylan Butler, wide receiver Terrence Miller, cornerback/wide receiver Richard Morrison and offensive lineman Chris Putton — played for Dykes as true freshmen.

    “He was a cool guy,” Jenkins said. “I didn’t talk to him too much until I got here and then when I got here, I was just a young guy learning the ropes.”

    Dykes said this week he also helped recruit running back Ka’Deem Carey when the running back was at Canyon del Oro.

    Carey’s memory is a little fuzzy.

    “I don’t remember that,” Carey said. “I didn’t take the recruiting thing seriously until the end, so I wasn’t really paying attention to the different coaches.”

    Dykes said he saw Carey play several times at CDO, because he lived close to the high school.

    “Little did I know,” Carey said.

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