Running game gives wideouts a rush

With backs hurt, 4 receivers roll up 95 yards on ground
2009-10-25T00:00:00Z Running game gives wideouts a rushBy Casey Crowe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 25, 2009 12:00 am  • 

Arizona's receivers have gone running backs.

Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes used three different receivers — Juron Criner, Terrell Turner and Delashaun Dean — out of the backfield for four rushes over the opening 15 minutes on Saturday, averaging 15 yards per touch in that span.

And for the game, Arizona gave nine handoffs to four receivers — the other was Bug Wright — for a total of 95 yards. Criner took his three carries for 39 yards, Dean had three for 45 yards, including a 26-yard effort on a reverse in the fourth quarter, and Turner rushed twice for 14 yards.

"That is a way to try and generate offense when you have no running backs," Dykes said after the game. "That was our deal going in. We're just trying to find different people to carry the football because we've been so banged up."

Among the banged up was starting running back Nicolas Grigsby, who went down with just under a minute left in the second quarter and appeared to be favoring his injured shoulder. He did not return.

"How severe, to what degree, I'll know next week," Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said of the injury.

In Grigsby's slot, the UA went with Keola Antolin — who was nursing an ankle injury and not expected to see much action — to start the second half.

Antolin proceeded to total 79 yards on 16 carries despite having almost no preparation for UCLA.

"Keola really played well," said Dykes. "He really didn't practice the later half of the week at all. I didn't think he was going to be able to play at all. But he came in and really gave us some pop."

Grigsby was not the only rusher with injury issues against the Bruins.

Greg Nwoko went down with what Stoops termed an "AC" — acromio-clavicular joint — issue in his shoulder in the third. That paved the way for fourth-string back Nick Booth to make an appearance for the Cats, scoring his first career rushing touchdown on a 6-yard run to make it 27-13.

Nine Arizona players were credited with rushing attempts against the Bruins.

"I didn't know it was that many," Turner said of the number of carries for the receivers. "It helps out the offensive line by getting those (defensive) linemen to have to stretch all the way out across the field. That helps us just run the ball up the middle, because they're worrying about covering the whole field."

More picks for Moore

The nation's leader in interceptions with five through six games entering Saturday, UCLA free safety Rahim Moore stole No. 6 to end Arizona's opening drive. A Nick Foles pass intended for David Douglas skimmed off the receiver's hands and into those of Moore, who was hovering just behind him.

Early in the second quarter, Moore claimed No. 7, halting a drive deep in Bruins territory by snaring a pass intended for David Roberts near the goal line. Moore returned that one to the UCLA 38-yard line.

Moore is now averaging an interception per game.

A kicking display

Quarterbacks Kevin Prince and Kevin Craft were less than thrilling, combining to complete just 13 of 35 passes for 135 yards and no touchdowns.

But the Bruins kicking game was in full effect, at least early on.

Kicker Kai Forbath — who leads the Pac-10 in kicking proficiency at more than 90 percent — drilled a 53-yard field goal, the ninth of 50 or more in his career, before hitting a 33-yarder in the third.

And punter Jeff Locke unleashed an 81-yard punt in the second quarter, which hit near the Arizona 10-yard line before bouncing into the end zone for a touchback.

Forbath's field goals made and attempted on the season: 19 of 21, after he missed a 52-yarder in the fourth.

Arizona's Alex Zendejas was tied for second percentage-wise in the Pac-10 entering the game (10 for 12), but missed his only attempt, a 39-yarder in the fourth, against the Bruins.

Injury report

Defensive end Brooks Reed was in street clothes. Arizona's sack master last fall, Reed missed the Oregon State and Washington games due to an ankle injury, and played sparingly in the win against Stanford last Saturday.

"We're trying to get Brooks back to full strength for the back end of our schedule," said Stoops.

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 3 0 0.769
USC 6 3 0 0.667 8 4 0 0.667
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 12 1 0 0.923
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 7 5 0 0.583
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 5 0 0.615
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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