Arizona Football

Off-the-beaten-path storylines: Washington Huskies at Arizona Wildcats

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Random thoughts while wondering if Washington coach Chris Petersen brought a new abridged coaches chart with him this time to Tucson …

— You remember the last time Washington came to Tucson in 2014? In his first season as Washington’s head coach, Petersen made a boo-boo. With 1:33 left in the game, Washington had a fresh set of downs, a 26-24 lead and a ticking clock. Game over. … Well, no. Running back Deontae Cooper fumbled. Arizona recovered at the Washington 45-yard line. And the turnover led to Casey Skowron’s dramatic 47-yard field goal as time expired at Arizona Stadium.

Petersen should’ve instructed his offense to get into the victory formation, have quarterback Cyler Miles kneel down three times and use the 40-second play clock to their advantage. It was the safest way to play it.

Here’s an estimation of how that last offensive possession could’ve gone:

First and 10 at the 44-yard line, 1:28 left: Miles takes a knee, 1-yard loss.

Arizona timeout at about 1:25.

Second and 11 at the 43, 1:25: Miles wastes 3 seconds and takes a knee, 2-yard loss.

Third and 13 at the 41, 0:43: Miles wastes 3 seconds and takes a knee, 2-yard loss.

Fourth and 13 at the 41, 0:01: Miles takes a final knee.

“Well, with our chart, we felt like we had to run the ball again and get a first down,” Petersen said. “They had one timeout left, and that’s the information we got.” …


As fate would have it …

If everything played out like it should, Miles and Cooper would be at Arizona Stadium tomorrow still sharing the same backfield. Miles would be a senior and Cooper would be winding up his seven-year career with the Huskies this season. Miles retired from football, however, after the 2014 season because of chronic hip injuries. Cooper, who was granted two extra years for medical reasons by the NCAA following a series of knee injuries, is playing as a graduate transfer senior at San Jose State this season.

If all went smoothly, Arizona would be starting its quarterback (Anu Solomon) and running back (Nick Wilson) from that memorable 2014 game as well. Both are questionable for tomorrow’s game, Solomon with a knee injury and Wilson with an ankle sprain.

Instead, Washington will start sophomores Jake Browning at quarterback and Myles Gaskin at tailback, both of whom have pumped life into the Huskies’ offense. Arizona will probably counter with redshirt sophomore Brandon Dawkins at quarterback and true freshman J.J. Taylor at tailback. They have provided Rich Rodriguez optimism with his offense in the future.

What a difference two years makes right?


The Over 40 Club

Washington has scored 40 or more points in six straight games for the first time in school history, with 52, 45, 44, 48, 59 and 41 points in their last six games, an average of 48.2 per game. It’s the longest such streak in the FBS.

James Fred "Pop" McKale began his legendary coaching and administrative career at Arizona 100 years ago today.

James Fred “Pop” McKale coached Arizona to its longest streak of 40-point games 96 years ago.

Has Arizona ever experienced such a streak? Not even close. Believe it or not, you have to go back to 1920 for the Wildcats’ longest such streak — four games — in school history. J.F. “Pop” McKale coached Arizona to these victories:

51-20 over the Phoenix Indians
167-0 over Camp Harry Jones
60-7 over Texas El Paso
41-0 over New Mexico St.

The Wildcats’ longest streak since of three games occurred last season when Arizona opened with a 42-32 win over Texas-San Antonio followed by a 44-20 win at Nevada and 77-13 win over NAU.

Arizona is known more for its scoring droughts of less than 40 points. To put Washington’s current streak of six games into perspective: It took the Wildcats 136 games over 13 years (between 1962 and 1975) to reach six games of at least 40 points. Included in that span was a streak of 57 straight games from 1962 and 1967 in which teams coached by Jim LaRue and Darrell Mudra scored under 40.

In recent years, from the Dick Tomey to John Mackovic to Mike Stoops transition (2000 to 2006) the Wildcats had a stretch of 82 out of 85 games with less than 40 points.

That started to change in 2007 when offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes revolutionized Arizona’s execution with the “Air Raid” offense. The Wildcats, with prolific quarterback Willie Tuitama, had three games of 40 points or more in 2007, matching the total over the previous six-plus seasons.


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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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