Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats helmet-sticker update: UA showing character in close wins

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In its last four games, Arizona was by no means dominant, but it was determined to win the game to the 60th minute.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez welcomes having a determined team that is 5-0 with the real possibility of cracking the Associated Press Top 15 tomorrow by virtue of its 31-24 win at No. 2 Oregon on Saturday.

In three of the last four games, opposing quarterback blunders in the waning minutes saved the day for Arizona:

— Texas-San Antonio’s Tucker Carter made an ill-advised toss that Jared Tevis intercepted to preserve Arizona’s 26-23 victory at the Alamodome.

— Nevada’s Cody Fajardo, impeccable most of the night, overthrew an open receiver on fourth down in Nevada’s last drive as Arizona held on for the 35-28 win.

— Oregon’s Marcus Mariota turned it over Thursday on the Ducks’ last possession as Scooby Wright wrestled the ball away from him to give Arizona one of its most historic wins.

In the other game, Arizona beat Cal 49-45 on the last play of the game, when Anu Solomon completed a 47-yard Hail Mary pass to Austin Hill.

Four wins. Total margin of victory: 21 points. Average: 5.25 points.

Arizona has defied the logic that turnover margin means the difference in close games like this. The Wildcats have not earned a helmet sticker for “turnover margin” or “no turnovers” in the last last three games. The turnover count between Arizona and its opponent is even in the last four games.

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HELMET STICKER RESULTS
HS: Helmet stickers
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Three constants remain for Arizona in helmet-stickers earned: “Win”, “Score 24 points in win” and “10 plays of 12 or more yards”. The Wildcats have also started the Pac-12 season with two stickers for victories.

Arizona last started 2-0 in conference play in 2008 with wins over UCLA and Washington. That was Mike Stoops’ best season at Arizona as the Wildcats finished 8-4 with a Las Vegas Bowl victory over BYU. This is only the second time in the last 14 years Arizona has started 2-0 in conference play.

The defense has responded favorably to the challenges of the close games, achieving a helmet sticker for “at least three sacks” in three of the last four games, including Thursday at Oregon.

Opponents have outscored Arizona 46-40 in the second period. The Wildcats’ offense and defense have responded in the second half with a 125-63 margin.

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Arizona has not achieved a sticker for converting at “least 55 percent of its third- and fourth-down conversions” in the last four games. The Wildcats have not held opponents to “at least five three-and-outs” in the last three games.

But Arizona has played winning football to the last minute.

Sometimes it works to be determined rather than dominant.

HELMET STICKER CRITERIA

The Wildcats earn cat claws for the Arizona helmet if they achieve these following marks. This helmet will be updated weekly as the Wildcats attempt to fill the helmet with the cat claws:

FIRST SIX GAMES

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LAST SIX GAMES

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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