Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.
The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.
Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.
The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.
Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.
Arizona may be without starting quarterback Anu Solomon for the second straight week.
The school’s latest injury report had Solomon listed as questionable on Thursday heading into this week’s home game against Hawaii. That is the same status the junior signal-caller was listed with when he missed the Wildcats’ win over Grambling last Saturday.
Solomon started Arizona’s opener in a narrow loss against BYU but injured his knee in a practice two weeks ago. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Dawkins, who battled Solomon through fall camp for the job, made his first start at Arizona last week and and struggled initially before a big second half comeback. He finished the game 15-of-29 for 223 yards, throwing for a touchdown and running for two others.
Safety Tellas Jones was also listed as questionable on the injury report and could sit out his second straight game as the result of an ankle injury.
If there was any good news to come out of Thursday’s report, it was likely that receiver Nate Phillips was not listed after battling shoulder issues. His addition could provide a big boost for either quarterback given some of the Wildcats’ struggles in the passing game to begin the season.
None of it may matter with Hawaii coming to town for Arizona but then again, the Wildcats did struggle to put away Grambling last week.
It looked like we were going to have a duel in the desert among two College Football Playoff worthy teams… for about half a quarter. No. 9 UCLA blew past an overmatched No. 16 Arizona team 56-30 in Tucson on Saturday night. The win, coupled with what’s happened in Eugene Saturday night, establishes UCLA as a clear top-echelon team in the always hyper-competitive Pac-12 South race.
The Bruins put this one out of reach in the first half. After Arizona opened the scoring with a 34-yard pass from Anu Solomon to Nate Phillips, UCLA ripped off four unanswered touchdowns and scored on six of its first seven possessions to grab a 42-14 halftime lead. Solomon left the game with a head injury in the second quarter and Scooby Wright played through obvious rust and lack of conditioning after missing three weeks with a knee injury, leaving Arizona simply unable to compete with a supremely talented Bruins squad.
UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley mercilessly sat on Arizona’s passing game, holding Solomon to just 3-of-9 for 21 yards aside from his touchdown strike and his replacement Jerrard Randall to 4-of-16 for 45 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Wildcats ran, uh, wild on the Bruins’ front, pounding out 353 yards and two scores on 59 carries, but it wasn’t enough to play catch-up with a UCLA offense clicking on every one of its cylinders.
Josh Rosen successfully bounced back from his first rough start by nailing 19-of-29 throws for 284 yards and two touchdowns (plus one on the ground), and running backs Paul Perkins, Soso Jamabo and Nate Starks combined to carry 38 times for 209 yards and five touchdowns. Jordan Payton added seven grabs for 136 yards and a touchdown, and Thomas Duarte hauled in four catches for 65 yards and a score.
The win pushes UCLA to 4-0 (1-0 Pac-12) with Arizona State heading to the Rose Bowl next week. Arizona (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) must regroup quickly, as a trip to No. 21 Stanford waits next Saturday.
Arizona opened the biggest game of the night with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 34-yard pass from Anu Solomon to Nate Phillips. It’s been all UCLA from there. The ninth-ranked Bruins lead No. 16 Arizona 42-14 at the half in Tucson.
The Bruins scored touchdowns on six of their seven first half possessions, as freshman quarterback Josh Rosen completed 13-of-17 throws for 212 yards and three touchdowns, and Paul Perkins added 16 carries for 56 yards and three touchdowns.
Solomon struggled aside from his touchdown pass, hitting only 3-of-9 throws for 21 yards aside from his scoring strike. He left the game in the second quarter with an apparent head injury.
Jerrard Randall entered the game for Solomon and promptly raced for a 39-yard touchdown to make the score 28-14 with 10:34 to go in the second quarter but he has also struggled to throw the ball, connecting on only 1-of-5 passes for 17 yards and an interception. Nick Wilson has been the lone bright spot for the Wildcats with 112 yards on 16 carries.
Casey Skowron missed a 29-yard field goal as time expired that would have pulled the Wildcats within 17.
UCLA will receive the ball to open the second half.