COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UA pummels Toledo
Associated Press Writer
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – Just two weeks ago, Arizona coach Mike Stoops said his young defense was terrible after a lackluster scrimmage.
He feels a little better now.
Arizona’s defense, featuring seven new starters, dominated Toledo and Nick Foles threw for 360 yards to lead the Wildcats to a 41-2 victory Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Arizona allowed just 80 yards rushing and Toledo’s only score came when offensive lineman Conan Amituanai was called for holding in the end zone, giving the Rockets the safety.
“I can’t think of the last time we shut someone out,” Arizona senior defensive end Ricky Elmore said.
While the defense was shutting down the Rockets, Foles led the Wildcats to 518 yards of offense. He tossed two touchdown passes and rushed for another score.
Nic Grigsby added two TD runs as Arizona recorded its first road victory outside the Pac-10 in nine seasons.
“It was nice to break that little curse we had,” Elmore said.
Foles completed 32 of 37 passes with an interception that occurred when a ball went off the hands of running back Taimi Tutogi and bounced to Toledo defensive back Diauntae Morrow.
Arizona’s speedy bunch of receivers seemed to be open on nearly play. Ten different players had at least one reception, with Juron Criner leading the way with 11 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown.
“I know if I get those guys the balls, they’re going to make plays,” Foles said.
Still, it was the young defense that stood out.
Stoops scolded the group after they looked sloppy in the team scrimmage, telling them that they needed to grow up in a hurry.
“We had to pressure these young guys,” he said, adding that he still saw plenty of mistakes that need fixed.
“I’m not going to beat our chests. We’ve got a long way to go,” he said.
Arizona is coming off a solid 2009 season and came within seconds of getting to the Rose Bowl, falling short in a 44-41 double-overtime loss to Oregon.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Wildcats getting to their first Rose Bowl in the 111-year history of the program. To accomplish that feat, the defense will need to continue to get better.
Co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown said he hopes the opening win will provide some confidence.
“It’s going to be a great learning tool,” he said. “Believe me, we made a lot of mistakes.”
Toledo had the top offense in the Mid-American Conference a year ago, but it did little right against the Wildcats. Sophomore quarterback Austin Dantin was 14-of-23 passing for 103 yards.
Foles showed a nice touch on his first touchdown throw, lofting a 9-yard pass over a defender and into the hands of tight end David Douglas, who got one foot down in the back of end zone with 8:40 left in the first quarter.
Foles completed five passes for 58 yards on the opening drive, but the Wildcats didn’t do much after that until late in the first half.
Grigsby, who struggled with a shoulder injury last season, scored on a nifty 36-yard run. He cut across the middle and outraced two Rockets to corner of the end zone, capping a nine-play, 91-yard drive and giving Arizona a 14-2 lead.
One play later, Derek Earls picked off Dantin’s pass over the middle to get the ball back for the Wildcats. Foles scored on a 1-yard run with just 17 seconds left in the half, making it 21-2.
Arizona hadn’t ventured this far for opener since going to Penn State in 1999. It also was the first time a Pac-10 team has played at a Mid-American Conference stadium.