Arizona Football

Special teams significant again with Arizona Wildcats earning 14 helmet stickers vs. UNLV


— Making the Grade: Wildcats end 2012 with 78 helmet stickers, a good average of six a game
11 helmet stickers earned against NAU
— The Wildcats have 25 stickers overall after playing UNLV

How did Arizona fare in its 58-13 win over UNLV on Saturday?

First-year special teams coordinator Charlie Ragle has coached Arizona to a noticeable improvement

First-year special teams coordinator Charlie Ragle has coached Arizona to a noticeable improvement

— Special teams have been mostly special — especially the return and kick coverage teams — for the Arizona Wildcats to this point. They have accounted for eight of the UA’s 25 helmet stickers after two games, including five against UNLV. The special teams accounted for only 19 helmet stickers last year in 13 games.

— The improvement can be explained by UA coach Rich Rodriguez changing the coaching of special teams by him and a committee of assistants last year to Charlie Ragle taking command this season.

— The highlights of the special teams include three stops of UNLV kickoff returners inside the 20 and kickoff returner Nate Phillips bringing one back to the Arizona 42 and punt returner Johnny Jackson breaking free for a 25-yard return.

— The UA did not earn helmet stickers for placekicker Jake Smith’s promising 3 of 4 performance, including a 41-yard field goal and Drew Riggleman’s lone punt of 44 yards that almost hit the coffin corner in the first quarter.

B.J. Denker showed the ability of controlling sustained drives with seven possessions that consisted of eight or more plays. Last week against NAU the Wildcats had only two such possessions.

Arizona junior safety Tra'Mayne Bondurant has two of the Wildcats' three interceptions returned for a touchdown

Arizona junior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant has two of the Wildcats’ three interceptions returned for a touchdown

— The Wildcats had two interceptions returned for a touchdown — one each by linebacker Jake Fischer and safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant — which gives them three already this season (Bondurant had one against NAU). The UA scored on a defensive play only once last season in Rich Rodriguez’s first year.

— Arizona forced UNLV into five possessions of a punt after three downs and one in which they stopped the Rebels on downs after four plays. That’s two consecutive games this season after only achieving three-downs-and-out on defense only once last year against South Carolina State.

— The not-so-good news: For the second consecutive game the Wildcats did not record at least 10 plays of 12 yards more — a sign of a consistent, big-play offense. They had nine against UNLV and six against NAU. Last season, Matt Scott and the UA achieved that mark in 11 of 13 games.


The Wildcats earn cat claws for the Arizona helmet if they achieve these following marks. This grading system is stringent. The Wildcats must achieve their goal. If it states the UA must achieve “more than” a certain mark, they must pass that mark. This helmet will be updated weekly as the Wildcats attempt to fill the helmet with the cat claws:


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