Arizona football team arrives to Bay Area For Foster Farms Bowl - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Arizona football team arrives to Bay Area For Foster Farms Bowl vs. Purdue

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Arizona is set to hit the football field against Purdue this Wednesday at the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, California.  Here's more from Arizona Athletics:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Arizona Wildcats will reconvene this Friday in the Bay Area to prepare for the Foster Farms Bowl, set for Dec. 27 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. 

The Cats will face Purdue in a game set for 5:30 p.m., on FOX. Joe Davis, Brady Quinn and Bruce Feldman will have the call. 

Below is a full preview:

Some Game Themes: It's not the Rose Bowl, but the 2017 Foster Farms Bowl has quite the matchup in a Pac-12 vs. Big 10 showdown in the Bay Area … Arizona returns to a bowl following a one-year hiatus, but otherwise has become a postseason regular with appearances in five of the last six and eight of the last 10 years … Meanwhile, Purdue returns to bowl scene for the first time since 2012 under the direction of first year head coach Jeff Brohm … The Cats enter the game having won five of their final eight games, but only one of their last four contests. On the flip side, the Boilermakers needed to win three of their last four to earn bowl eligibility … The contrast between these teams is clear: Arizona scores 41.8 points per game (6th nationally), while Purdue allows on 19.3 points per game (17th nationally). At the same time, the Boilermakers only average 24.2 points per game (97th nationally), but the Cats have surrendered 34.1 points per game (110th nationally). So what's going to give? … Each side has needed two quarterbacks this season, though a healthy and rested Khalil Tate for the Wildcats will surely draw plenty of attention. He single-handedly changed the trajectory of UA's season in October and one more big performance on the national stage could set up big expectations for the Wildcats in 2018 … Assuming Elijah Sindelar is the guy for Purdue – he was the primary QB down the stretch – then Purdue may lean on the passing attack as he provides a capable arm that pushes the ball down the field more so than David Blough, a five-game starter in his own right … Arizona should receive a boost from a healthy defensive line, a position that was down three starters for the regular season finale. It will be key to slow down the Boilermakers' rushing attack and find a way to pressure the QB; Purdue averaged 150.9 yards per game on the ground and surrendered 30 sacks … Ball security and field position seem to always play a central role in outcomes of games, but in the one-game season that is bowl season, it's certainly crucial. The Cats have a propensity for forcing turnovers, and when they force opponents to put together long drives, it gives them more chances at getting the ball back for the high-powered offense … Arizona ventures west for its first bowl in California since 2009 … Boilermaker coach Jeff Brohm returns to the Bay Area where he played for the 49ers from 1995-97 … The Wildcats make their second appearance at Levi's Stadium (home of the 49ers), where they lost the 2014 Pac-12 Championship game to Oregon. A win at the Foster Farms Bowl would give the Cats eight wins for the first time since that 2014 season … As the saying goes, it's the most wonderful time of the year. So let's play some football!

A Glance at the Cats: Arizona returns to postseason action following a redemptive season that saw it turn a three-win campaign a year ago into a team that won seven games and finished with a winning conference record for just the fourth time in 19 seasons … The Wildcats opened the season 2-2 (0-1 in Pac-12 play) before the lone bye week of the season to close out September. Then Khalil Tate burst onto the scene and led Arizona to a 5-3 record the rest of the way, including a perfect 4-0 October for the second time in school history … Arizona boasts the Pac-12's top rushing, scoring and total offense. With 1,353 yards (also 12 TD), Tate is the team's leading rusher, but J.J. Taylor is a big game away from a 1,000-yard season of his own (828 yards, 7 total TD), Nick Wilson (585 yards, 6 TD) was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection and Zach Green is the short yardage bulldozer (310 yards, 11 TD). Backup quarterback Brandon Dawkins also has 458 yards (6.7 avg., 8 TD) for what is the nation's third-most potent rushing attack. The passing game received a boost from Tate, who can make all the throws necessary. Shun Brown is the top target with 511 yards and five touchdowns, while Tony Ellison showed big-play ability with four total touchdowns and 15 yards per catch. The equalizers in the offense are the freshmen tight ends, who emerged as legitimate receiving options in addition to their roles in the zone blocking scheme. Bryce Wolma 28 grabs (2 TD) are the most for a true UA tight end since Rob Gronkowski in 2008, while Jamie Nunleyaveraged 26.5 yards on his six catches. But the whole offense has enjoyed the benefit of a healthy six-man rotation up front. Left tackle Layth Friekh, center Nathan Eldridge, and guards Christian Boettcher and Jacob Alsadek each started all 12 games, while Gerhard de Beer and Cody Creason split duties all season at right tackle. Eldridge and Alsadek were All-Pac-12 honorable mention selections by the league's coaches, but at least one of them probably deserved first or second team honors … On the defensive side of the ball, there were two storylines: youth and forcing turnovers. The Wildcats started as many as five true freshmen on defense, with Tony Fields II and Kylan Wilborn logging a dozen starts each. Fields II was second nationally in tackles by a freshman, while Wilborn led all Power 5 freshmen in sacks. Yet the headliner may well be Colin Schooler, an eight-game starter that racked up 13.5 tackles for loss in nine conference games to earn Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year honors … The Wildcats ranked fifth nationally for interceptions gained, and their 24 turnovers gained rank 16th-best nationally. Lorenzo Burns paced the secondary with five picks, the most for a Wildcat since 2009 and tied for most nationally by a freshman this season.

Cats Bowling Again: For the eighth time in 10 seasons, Arizona is bowling. It is the best 10-year stretch of postseason appearances in school history, while Rich Rodriguez is the first head coach in program history to lead the Cats to five bowls in six seasons. Arizona has played in 20 previous bowl games, posting a 9-10-1 all-time record. However, that mark improves to 3-1 under Rodriguez and 9-6 in the last 15 bowl appearances. Most recently, the Wildcats defeated New Mexico on its home field to win the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 19, 2015. Arizona's last bowl appearance in California was a 33-0 loss to Nebraska in the 2009 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. All-time, the program is 1-3 in California bowl games, with the victory coming against Nebraska in the 1998 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. Interestingly, the school's first ever bowl trip was to the East-West Christmas Classic in San Diego when UA fell to Centre College (Kentucky) in a rainy contest on Dec. 26, 1921.

Arizona vs. Purdue Series History: These two schools have met on the gridiron only two previous times, both Purdue victories coming since the turn of the century. The Boilermakers hosted the first meeting, winning 59-7 on Sept. 20, 2003, at Ross-Ade Stadium. The Wildcats were coached by John Mackovic who would coach just one more game before being fired mid-season in what became an eight-game losing streak. Two years later, 12th-ranked Purdue held off upset minded Arizona, in its second year with then-head coach Mike Stoops, for a 31-24 victory at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 17, 2005.

Khalil's Opening sTATEment: A finalist now for the Manning Award and previously a semifinalist for the prestigious Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell and Davey O'Brien Awards, sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate made a national name for himself over the final two months of the regular season. For those that don't know, Tate, coming in as a backup, was hurt in the opening game of the season against NAU. He played briefly against Houston week later, but was not near 100-percent healthy battling through a sprained throwing shoulder that eventually kept him out of games against UTEP and Utah. After a bye week closed out September, Tate was healthy enough to fully practice and was available to play at Colorado on Oct. 7. Arizona entered that contest with a 2-2 overall record and an 0-1 mark in conference play. The season, even at that early juncture, was firmly in the balance. On the opening possession of that game, starter Brandon Dawkins was hit late out of bounds and briefly shaken up. Tate was sent in and has never looked back. He set an FBS single-game rushing record for quarterbacks with 327 yards that evening in Boulder and went on to win four-straight Pac-12 Player of the Week honors. Here's the rest of the résumé he compiled over the final eight weeks of the regular season:

Khalil Tate Leads the FBS in:
• Total QBR according to ESPN.com
• 10.2 yards per carry
• Five 70+ yard runs (four of them TDs)
• 327 yards vs. Colorado set new FBS single-game record for rushing by a quarterback and is highest total by any FBS player this season
The Big Plays
• Averages 47.7 yards per touchdown run (12 touchdowns)
• Averages 24.7 yards per passing touchdown (9 touchdowns)
• Averages 37.2 yards per touchdown play (21 total touchdowns)
• 82-yard run second-longest by FBS quarterback this season
• Four touchdown runs of 70-plus yards.

Khalil in the Rankings

  • No. 1 nationally with 10.6 average per carry
  • Leads FBS in total QBR (94.1)
  • No. 6 nationally with 135.3 rushing yards per game
  • No. 15 nationally with 1,353 rushing yards in only 10 games
  • No. 19 nationally averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt

Other Notables

  • Finalist for Manning Award.
  • Pac-12 Honorable Mention.
  • Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention.
  • Pac-12 "Newcomer of the Year" as voted by Associated Press.
  • Semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell and Davey O'Brien Awards
  • First quarterback in Pac-10/12 history to top 1,000 rushing yards in a season
  • Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week in four consecutive weeks (first time in league history)
  • Ranks No. 6 in Arizona single-season history with 1,353 rushing yards
  • First player in school history to post three 200-yard rushing games in a season

Great 8 For Tate (since Oct. 7)
                                Rushing                                Passing                                 Total Offense
Opponent           Att-Yards-TD                      C-A-YDS-TD                        Plays-Yards-YD

at Colorado         14-327-4                               12-13-154-1                        27-481-5
UCLA                     15-230-2                               9-13-148-1                           28-378-3
at California        17-137-1                               10-15-166-2                        32-303-3
vs. Wash. St.       13-146-1                               10-17-275-2                        30-421-3
at USC                   26-161-1                               14-31-146-2                        57-307-3
vs. Oregon St.    16-206-2                               5-7-68-0                               23-274-2
at Oregon            14-32-0                                 18-35-159-1                        32-191-1
at ASU                  8-28-1                                   11-13-132-0                        21-160-1
Total                      123-1,267-12                      89-143-1,248-9                  250-2,515-21
Avg./Play             10.3 ypc                               8.7 ypp                                 10.1 ypp
Avg./Game         158.4 ypg                            156.0 ypg                            314.4 ypg
Plead the Fifth: Arizona's 2018 roster received a boost even before the new Dec. 20-22 signing period when a pair of starters received confirmation their NCAA waivers were approved for fifth years of eligibility. Veteran left tackle Layth Friekh, who played a handful of snaps in one game as a true freshman in 2014, will gain back a year of eligibility. The to-be-senior will have to sit out the first two games of the 2018 season because of a two-for-one withholding penalty for his participation in four snaps of the blowout victory at Utah. Still, it's a welcomed development for Friekh and the Wildcats. Also earning an additional year of eligibility is receiver Shawn Poindexter, who never actually enrolled to play volleyball at Cal Baptist immediately after his high school career. From an eligibility standpoint, Poindexter's clock did not start for an extra year than initially thought, which was clarified in the waiver approved by the NCAA on his behalf. 

Points, Points and More Points: Arizona proved to be one of the prolific offenses in college football this season. The Wildcats scored 502 points in the regular season, which is already a program record. Arizona scored 496 points in coach Rich Rodriguez's first season at Arizona in 2012, which was the previous record. Arizona scored at least 28 points in 10 of 12 games this season and at least 24 points in 11 of 12. Arizona also established a new school record by scoring 45 or more points in four straight games and 35 or more in six straight. Only eight teams in the country topped the 500-point mark this season, with four of them having played 13 games to Arizona's 12.
Most Points in the Regular Season in Pac-10/12 era

Points Scored Year
502 2017
453 2014
447 2012
445 2008
441 2015

Where the Scoring Ranks Nationally: Arizona became the 10th Pac-12 team since 2010 to score 500 points in 12 regular season games joining Oregon (six times), Stanford (2011), Washington (2016) and Arizona State (2013). The Cats enter their bowl game ranked sixth in the country in scoring at 41.8 points per game are just one of eight teams to score 65 or more touchdowns this season. 
Top Scoring Teams in the Country

School Games Points Points Per Game
UCF 12 593 49.4
Memphis 12 572 47.7
Oklahoma State 12 555 46.3
Oklahoma 13 584 44.9
Ohio State 13 552 42.5
Arizona 12 502 41.8

Teams With 65 or More Touchdowns This Season

School Number of Touchdowns
UCF 80
Memphis 77
Oklahoma 77
Ohio State 72
Oklahoma State 71
Florida Atlantic 68
Penn State 67
Arizona 66

A New Standard: Arizona has 3,893 rushing yards, which is a new program record for rushing yards in a season. The previous mark was 3,444 set in 2013 when Ka'Deem Carey led the nation in rushing with 1,929 yards. The 2013 season is the only other time the Wildcats have rushed for more than 3,000 yards. Arizona's 48 rushing touchdowns are also a new school record, besting the previous high of 36, also set in 2013. The 48 touchdowns lead the country, despite Arizona playing one less game than several of the other leaders.
Highest Yard Per Carry

School Rushes Rushing Yards Yards Per Carry
Arizona 570 3,893 6.83
Louisville 456 2,999 6.58
Notre Dame 526 3,349 6.37
Army 698 4,270 6.12
Florida Atlantic 605 3,682 6.09

Most Rushing Touchdowns in the Country
1. Arizona: 48
2. Florida Atlantic: 47
3. Army: 45
4. Ohio: 40
4. Oregon: 40

Most Rushing Touchdowns by Arizona in Pac-10/12 Era

Rushing TDs Year Total Rushing Yards
48 2017 (through 12 games) 3,893
36 2014 3,444
34 1998 2,567
33 2008 2,059
33 2012 2,961

School-er Zone: True freshman linebacker Colin Schooler has seen a number of accolades come his way since the regular season ended. Schooler, from Dana Point, California, finished with 88 tackles, 13.5 tackles-for-loss, four sacks and two interceptions. He was named the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, a first-team Freshman All-American by ESPN.com and an honorable mention All-Pac-12 pick. Schooler's 13.5 TFL are the most by an Arizona freshman in at least 20 years. He leads all freshmen in the country with that mark. His 88 total tackles are the second-most in the last 20 years by a freshman, just three behind teammate Tony Fields II. No other freshman in the country this season has more than 11 tackles-for-loss.
Most Tackles-For-Loss by an Arizona Freshman since 1997

Name TFL Year
Colin Schooler 13.5 2017
Justin Washington 11.5 2010
Kylan Wilborn 9.5 2017
Scooby Wright 9.5 2013
Copeland Bryan 7.5 2002

Super Freshman Fields: Colin Schooler wasn't the only Arizona Wildcat to earn freshman All-American honors from ESPN.com. Fellow linebacker Tony Fields II was also named a freshman All-American by the publication. Fields led all Pac-12 freshmen in tackles with 91. He finished the regular season second nationally among freshmen tacklers, behind Northwestern's Paddy Fisher, who had 110 stops. In fact, Arizona freshmen finished as three of the seven highest tacklers in the country.

Top Freshmen Tacklers in the Country

Name School Total Tackles
Paddy Fisher Northwestern 110
Tony Fields II Arizona 91
Colin Schooler Arizona 88
Jordan Young Old Dominion 85
Dorian Etheridge Louisville 77
Lorenzo Burns Arizona 75
David Morris Oregon State 75

Most Total Tackles by an Arizona Freshman since 1997

Name Total Tackles Year
Tony Fields II 91 2017
Colin Schooler 88 2017
Scooby Wright III 83 2013
Lorenzo Burns 75 2017
Antoine Cason 70 2004

Taylor Finishes Strong: J.J. Taylor saw his true freshman season in 2016 cut short after he broke his ankle in the team's fourth game of the season against Washington. Taylor was granted a medical redshirt season for the season and got a bit of a re-do on his freshman season this year. It took the 5-foot-6 inch jitterbug a few weeks to find his groove, but he eventually did in a big way. Taylor, who was named Pac-12 co-Offensive Freshman of the Year, finished the regular season with 828 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He played his best football as the season went on, rushing for 462 yards and three touchdowns over his final five games of the season. He had a pair of 100-yard rushing games over his last five and never rushed for fewer than 51 yards in any of the final five games. He enters the bowl game averaging 6.1 yards per carry, which is the most by an Arizona running back this season.
J.J. Taylor Season Comparison

Games Carries Yards TDs
1-7 78 366 2
8-12 58 462 3

Can't Burn Him: Redshirt freshman Lorenzo Burns has been one of the best freshmen defensive backs in the Pac-12 this season for Arizona. Burns, who used a medical redshirt in 2016, notched his fifth interception of the season against Arizona State. He became the first Arizona player since Trevin Wade in 2009 to have five interceptions in a season. Additionally, Burns is tied with three other players for the national lead in interceptions among freshmen. He also leads the entire Pac-12 conference in interceptions per game at 0.42. The next closest is Josh Reid from Stanford at 0.38. In his last six games, Burns has four interceptions and four pass breakups.

Lorenzo Burns' Last 6 Games

Opponent Tackles Interceptions Pass Breakups
at California 12 1 1
Washington State 4 1 1
at USC 5 0 1
Oregon State 3 1 0
at Oregon 6 0 0
at Arizona State 8 1 1

Top Freshmen Interception Leaders in the Country

Name School Interceptions
Lorenzo Burns Arizona 5
Tariq Thompson San Diego State 5
Terrell Carter Memphis 5
Andraez Williams LSU 5
C.J. Henderson Florida 4
Amik Robertson Louisiana Tech 4
Brenton Nelson Virginia 4

All of the Starts: Experience certainly wasn't an issue for the big boys up front for the Wildcats this season. The Arizona offensive line features six players who have started at least seven games each. All total, the Wildcats have 150 career starts and 189 games played among their top six linemen. Redshirt senior right guard Jacob Alsadek leads the way with 47 career games played and 45 starts. Left tackle Layth Friekh, who learned in December he'll have a fifth year of eligibility, has 38 career games and 33 starts to his credit. Senior Gerhard De Beer, has played in 34 games over the past three seasons with 21 starts. Additionally, redshirt sophomore Nathan Eldridge started all 12 games at center last year, while fellow redshirt sophomore Cody Creason has 24 games and eight starts on his resume. Finally, senior Christian Boettcher has played in 24 games with 19 starts. The offensive line has helped pave the way for a rushing offense averaging 324.4 yards per game and has helped the Wildcats lead the Pac-12 in scoring offense at 41.8 points per game. Additionally, the offensive line has allowed just 12 sacks on the season, which is tied for the best mark in the Pac-12 and tied for the 17th-best figure in the country.

Fewest Sacks Allowed in the Pac-12

School Sacks Allowed Total Yards Lost
Arizona 15 109
Washington 16 142
Stanford 16 96
Oregon State 18 97
Oregon 21 134

Six for Six: Junior receiver Shun Brown, No. 6, emerged as Arizona's biggest wide receiver threat this year. Brown finished with a career high 39 catches for 511 yards and five touchdowns. Brown also had 15 punt returns for 193 yards and two more touchdowns. His seven total touchdowns were tied for third on the team with J.J. Taylor. Brown, who had just four catches for 24 yards as a freshman in 2015, had 29 catches for 521 yards as a sophomore. With 10 more yards, he'll tie his career high in yards. Brown nearly had a third punt return touchdown this season when he returned one for a score against Arizona State, but it was called back on a block-in-the-back penalty. In an offense that heavily featured the run, Brown had at least one catch in 11 of 12 games this season. The one game he didn't – Oregon State – Arizona completed just five passes in a 21-point victory. He was the only Arizona player to have at least one catch in 11 of 12 games.
Jumpin' Jace: Junior cornerback Jace Whittaker started all 12 games for the Wildcats this season and enters the Foster Farms Bowl with 19 straight starts to his credit. Whittaker was named second-team All-Pac-12 by the Associated Press. Whittaker finished the year with 34 tackles, 10 pass breakups and three interceptions. Whittaker has played in 35 of 37 games since arriving in Tucson in 2015. Whittaker's best game this season came at home against UCLA when he had two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Whittaker was also named a second-team All-Pac-12 pick by Pro Football Focus, which graded out Whittaker at 84.4; the fourth-best mark for a Pac-12 cornerback. 
Passes Defended Leaders in the Pac-12

Name School Passes Defended Passes Defended Per Game
Isaiah Oliver Colorado 15 1.50
Arrion Springs Oregon 17 1.42
Jace Whittaker Arizona 13 1.08
Uchenna Nwosu USC 14 1.08


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