Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats helmet-sticker update: Defense, special teams responsible for six of nine stickers vs. ASU




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Arizona’s offense produced big scoring plays against ASU, but the Wildcats’ defense and special teams were the difference in the 42-35 win over the Sun Devils last week.

The special teams and defense earned Arizona six of its nine helmet stickers while the offense accounted for one (scoring at least 24 points in a victory). Arizona also earned two stickers for winning a game in addition to it being a Pac-12 game. The offense, however, was responsible for touchdown passes of 69 and 20 yards from freshman Anu Solomon to sophomore Samajie Grant and a 72-yard touchdown run by freshman Nick Wilson.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez’s team heads into the Pac-12 Championship game against Oregon this Friday coming off a season-high 11 stickers at Utah and nine against ASU in a balanced effort from all three phases of the game.

The defense and special teams each accounted for three helmet stickers against ASU. Here’s a rundown of each:

Defensive score. After going the first seven games without scoring a defensive touchdown, the Wildcats have produced three such scores in the last four games. Arizona earned a sticker in this category against ASU with Anthony Lopez’s 25-yard fumble return in the first quarter. It was Lopez who caused the first Arizona defensive score of the season when he jarred the ball loose from Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau a month ago that led to Tra’Mayne Bondurant’s fumble return for a touchdown. Scooby Wright’s sack caused ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly to fumble, leading to Lopez’s score last week.

Stop opponent inside the 10 with Arizona getting the ball. Arizona had its first successful goal-line stand of the season when it stopped the Sun Devils at the Wildcat 2 in the first quarter. Arizona’s Cody Ippolito stuffed ASU running back D.J. Foster for a one-yard loss on a fourth-and-goal attempt at the 1 with 6:55 left in the first quarter.

At least three sacks. Arizona tallied a season-high seven sacks against the Sun Devils, including two each by Dan Pettinato and Wright. Pettinato’s tally equaled his season production from the first 10 games. The seven sacks were the most Arizona produced since totaling five at Oregon in the fifth game of the season.


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HS: Helmet stickers
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Tackle kickoff returner inside the 20. Arizona running back Jared Baker made one tackle all game on special teams and it was a good one, stopping ASU kickoff returner Deantre Lewis at the 17 in the third quarter.

Punt inside the 10-yard line. Drew Riggleman, coming off his Pac-12 special teams player of the week honor, pinned ASU at the 8-yard line with one of his punts in the fourth quarter. This came after the Sun Devils scored on the previous possession following Mike Bercovici’s replacement of Kelly. After Riggleman’s punt, with Bercovici deep in his own territory, the ASU quarterback threw an interception that was snared by Arizona senior safety Jourdon Grandon.

Blocked punt. Arizona’s Tellas Jones blocked Arizona’s first punt in the Rodriguez era when he got a hand on Matt Haack’s punt in the second quarter. The punt traveled only seven yards to the Arizona 30. Four plays later, Wilson ran for a 21-yard score to help give Arizona a 21-14 lead. Jones also made a tackle of ASU punt returner Kyle Middlebrooks at the Arizona 10 on a previous punt by Riggleman.


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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:


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[table “” not found /] 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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