The University of Arizona brought in a new offense for 2007.
Now the Wildcats are looking for more playmakers.
UA averaged 385.3 yards and 28.0 points per game in the first year of the spread offense under coordinator Sonny Dykes.
Those numbers should go up in 2008, with most of the offense coming back to a system players have a year’s experience in.
The Wildcats set many passing records this season. Quarterback Willie Tuitama set single-season school marks for touchdowns, completions, attempts and yards.
UA opens next season against Idaho on Aug. 30 at Arizona Stadium.
“We have got to get playmakers on offense, guys that have good speed and can go get the ball out of the air,” Dykes said.
“I think that kind of caught up with us (against ASU). . . . We have to get more guys in here who are comfortable being put in the game and play faster as an offense. That is something that has hurt us all year. I feel the guys are here, it’s just a matter of them getting comfortable doing it.
“Right now, there is too much drop-off between our No. 1′s and our No. 2′s, and we have to get that fixed.”
Arizona had eight players catch at least 20 passes, but Mike Thomas proved to be the only consistent receiver throughout the season.
Terrell Turner made huge strides from a year ago as he went from catching one pass to 50.
More versatility and breakaway bursts are needed from others.
The Wildcats have two high school playmakers already committed: tailback Ryan Bass and quarterback Matt Scott from Centennial High in Corona, Calif.
Bass has rushed for 2,255 yards and scored 40 touchdowns this season. Scott has thrown for 1,911 yards and 15 scores and rushed for nine touchdowns and 801 yards.
“Bass is a great athlete, but Scott’s real good too,” Temecula Chaparral High coach Tom Leach told the North Country Times. “(Scott’s) probably the best athlete that we’ve faced at quarterback this year.”
Another place UA will need more depth is the offensive line, although the Wildcats have everybody but tackle Peter Graniello returning next year.
The Wildcats failed to sign an offensive lineman in this year’s recruiting class, but have three coming in next year.
Tuitama looked like a veteran in the spread at times, throwing five touchdown passes each against Northern Arizona, Washington State and Washington.
But he also struggled at times, including the season finale against Arizona State.
The rushing attack wasn’t consistent, despite freshman Nic Grigsby emerging as one of the top young tailbacks in the Pac-10.
“You go back and look at it, at times we were pretty good offensively. At times we were not,” Dykes said. “We have to get rid of the inconsistencies. It boils down to us making plays.”
Cuban still eyeing Cubs
CHICAGO – Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is a frequent visitor to Wrigley Field and has made it clear he’s interested in purchasing the Cubs.
There’s been little movement on that front, though.
“Nothing’s changed. Right now we’re waiting for the (economic) reports to come out in January,” Cuban said before Monday’s game between the Mavericks and Bulls.
Tribune Co. put the Cubs on the market last season, but the process has moved slowly.
Many don’t expect a sale to be completed until well into 2008. Some believe baseball owners may not let Cuban into their club.
Cuban shrugged that off, saying, “I don’t do things just for the sake of doing them. It’s a passion project. It makes great business sense for me. There’s a lot of leverage there. There’s so many business applications, so many technology applications I can do in Chicago. There’s a lot of opportunities.”
Kuhn elected to Hall
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – At last, Bowie Kuhn beat Marvin Miller at something.
The late commissioner was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday while Miller was rejected by a revamped Veterans Committee stacked with those he regularly opposed – and beat – in arbitration and bargaining sessions that altered the history of the game.
“Bowie was a close friend and a respected leader who served as commissioner during an important period in history, amid a time of change,” commissioner Bud Selig said, adding: “I was surprised that Marvin Miller did not receive the required support given his important impact on the game.”
Former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth and ex-Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss also were elected.
Manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey each missed induction by a single vote.
Kuhn presided over the introduction of night games to the World Series and baseball’s first, tentative steps into national marketing. But the game also changed in ways he fiercely resisted: free agency, salary arbitration and dozens of other benefits that Miller won for the players as the head of their union.
Top returning playmakers
Passing: Willie Tuitama threw for 3,683 yards on 327 of 524 attempts. He had 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Rushers: Nic Grigsby gained 704 yards on 161 carries, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt. Receiver Mike Thomas was the second-leading rusher with 173 yards.
Receiving: Thomas was second in the Pac-10 with 82 receptions for 1,027 yards and 11 touchdowns. Terrell Turner caught 50 passes, Delashaun Dean 37, Grigsby 35 and tight end Rob Gronkowski 28.
ON THIS DATE
1945: “Mr. Inside,” Doc Blanchard of Army, becomes the first junior to win the Heisman Trophy. Blanchard also becomes the only athlete to win both the Heisman and Sullivan Award.
1951: Princeton triple-threat tailback Richard Kazmaier wins the Heisman Trophy. Kazmaier led the nation in total offense and the Tigers to an undefeated season.
1956: Notre Dame quarterback Paul Hornung edges Tennessee’s Johnny Majors to win the Heisman Trophy.
1961: Floyd Patterson defends his world heavyweight title by knocking out Tom McNeeley in the fourth round in Toronto.
1977: Tony Dorsett becomes the third rookie to rush for more than 200 yards in a game with 206 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
2004: Louisville becomes the first football team in NCAA history to score at least 55 points in five straight games, beating Tulane 55-7.
2005: Croatia wins its first Davis Cup title, with Mario Ancic beating Michal Mertinak of Slovakia 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-4 in the decisive fifth match.
DeBerry a Tucson gem
Re: the Nov. 29 article “DeBerry’s secret: Teach the small fry too”:
I loved the story about Bobby DeBerry. It shows a positive side to teaching that we almost never hear about. Kudos for showing the good that our Sunnyside schools have to offer.
Bobby is not only a super coach, but also a spectacular role model to these young children. They work hard for him because they love and respect him just as he does back to them.
It shows each year in his team and in the wrestling room on any given practice. The mats are full of all ages of students learning from the wrestling guru we have all grown to love and respect.
We need more coaches and teachers like DeBerry.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
Third-down conversion percentage by UA this year, the No. 8 mark in the Pac-10. The leaders:
Arizona State 39.7
Washington State 39.3
When was the last time the UA football team ended the season with at least two wins in a row?
Answer: 1998, when the Wildcats won their last seven to finish 12-1.