The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 20 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
RELATED LINK: Anthony Gimino provides information about each of the former UA athletes on NFL rosters at TucsonCitizen.com
In this countdown to Arizona’s regular season, this site takes a look back at those who have ended their Wildcat careers and progressed to the NFL. In a way, their existence in the NFL enables Arizona to have a better future because of recruiting purposes.
Young tight ends want to be the next Rob Gronkowski, for example. If Nick Foles starts for Philadelphia or Matt Scott catches on in the NFL, that opens the door for Arizona coaches to tell quarterback prospects that they can get them to the next level. Arizona could not boast about that position thriving (or even surviving) in the NFL for almost 40 years.
The Wildcats begin the NFL preseason with 21 ex-players in camp. Chicago tight end Fendi Onobun was on a basketball scholarship at the UA for four years before transferring to Houston to play one season of football.
Foles is getting most of the national publicity with his competition with Michael Vick. Both played well in Philadelphia’s 31-22 loss to New England in the Eagles’ first preseason game last night.
Vick and Foles led the first-team offense to a touchdown drive. Vick was on the field for the first two drives. He threw a 47-yard touchdown to DeSean Jackson. The Patriots forced a punt on his second drive.
Foles faced significant pressure — the Eagles’ offensive line is an area of concern for new coach Chip Kelly — and he lost a fumble after a sack. But Foles’ second drive was out of the Kelly playbook from Oregon. The Eagles didn’t substitute or huddle during a 10-play, 66-yard drive that moved at lightning speed, capped by Bryce Brown’s 8-yard TD run. Foles looked comfortable running Kelly’s read-option plays.
Foles’ drive took 3:28 in game time and 4:19 in real time.
The quarterbacks combined to go 9-of-11 passing for 137 yards and one TD. Kelly has announced that Foles will start in next week’s preseason game.
Former Arizona wide receiver Dan Buckner, an undrafted free agent with the Cardinals who has prospered during training camp, made -a diving catch up the middle in the Cardinals’ 17-0 win at Green Bay last night. It was his only catch, a 19-yard reception, from third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley.
“Coach says I’m getting better every day,” Buckner told Arizona Sports 620 last week. “That’s what you’ve got to do as a rookie guy.
“You’ve just got to get better, try to get some eyes on you and try to get some reps in practice and the preseason games coming up.”
Oakland receiver Juron Criner, Buckner’s former teammate at Arizona in 2011, also caught only one pass for 23 yards in the Raiders’ 19-17 win over Dallas last night. Most players are utilized in only two or three possessions early in the preseason schedule to allow coaches to evaluate.
Scott did not start the second half in Jacksonville’s 27-3 loss at home against Miami last night. Mike Kafka, whom he’s battling for the No. 3 spot, started the second half. That reportedly means Kafka is ahead of Scott in the depth chart. Kafka is trying to beat Scott for an NFL roster spot after losing to Foles last season with Philadelphia.
Scott attempted the most passes (13) of all four Jacksonville quarterbacks — including Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. He completed six for 51 yards. He was also the only Jaguars quarterback to get sacked.
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The best Arizona player to wear No. 20, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is running back Michael Bates (1989-90). The Amphi product left early and became an All-Pro kick returner in the NFL after earning a bronze medal in the 200 meters in 1992 Olympics.
Last year, this site and TucsonCitizen.com ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series. I will relive that list here with less than 50 days to kickoff and add one game to it: Arizona’s improbable 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December, which landed as No. 38 on the list. Note, after clicking on the link, you will notice last year’s ranking. The list on this page is the current ranking.
No. 20: Arizona fit to be tied with Cal despite leading 26-3 in third quarter
No. 21: Zendejas’ last-second 45-yard FG vs. ASU generates momentum for “The Streak” to endure
No. 22: Arizona wins its first bowl behind “Heat-seeking Missile” Chuck Cecil
No. 23: Collapse vs. Utah after leading 27-0 in fourth quarter changed the face of UA football
No. 24: UA shuts out ASU, Kush during dominating run for Sun Devils coach
No. 25: Arizona’s defense and Doug Pfaff’s last-second FG enough to upset sixth-ranked Oklahoma
No. 26: UA upsets ASU from Fiesta Bowl consideration in program’s best stretch
No. 27: Trung Canidate rushes for record 288 yards and three long TDs in ’98 shootout against ASU
No. 28: UA dominates No. 3 SMU, highest ranked non-conference foe to lose to Cats
No. 29: Arizona stuns second-ranked Oregon in most significant victory in Mike Stoops era
No. 30: Arizona’s win on last-second FG over ASU ends Frank Kush’s dominance in the series
No. 31: Arizona reaches its zenith under Mike Stoops with victory over Brigham Young in Las Vegas Bowl
No. 32: Arizona owed Cal a couple, knock Bears out of BCS title, Rose Bowl run
No. 33: Arizona’s 10-9 loss at Oregon in 1994, derailing its Rose Bowl hopes, still hurts
No. 34: ASU ripe for picking in banana uniforms for “The Streak” to reach eight
No. 35: Arizona tries risky fake PAT to beat California but loses in epic 4 overtime game
No. 36: Veal to Hill “Hail Mary” pass highlights “The Streak” reaching seven games against ASU
No. 37: USC outlasts Arizona 48-41 in one of most wild games played in Tucson
No. 38: Arizona Wildcats’ comeback against Nevada No. 38 in Top 50 games list
No. 39: Arizona shows signs of life under Mike Stoops with rout over No. 7 UCLA
No. 40: Art Luppino “The Cactus Comet” rockets toward 38 yards per carry and five touchdowns
No. 41: Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time
No. 42: Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU
No. 43: Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA
No. 44: Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics
No. 45: Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally
No. 46: Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason
No. 47: “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish
No. 48: Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech
No. 49: Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State
No. 50: Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal
Dropped out: Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians
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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.