Arizona’s not only a pass-oriented offense, just ask Nic Grigsby.
The Wildcat sophomore is showing there are plenty of touches to be had by tailbacks as he rushed for three touchdowns in a 41-16 victory over Toledo on Saturday in Arizona Stadium.
Grigsby finished with 135 yards on 20 carries, including all three scores by halftime, while not playing most of the second half.
The victory gives Arizona its first back-to-back victories to open a season since John Mackovic’s 2002 squad.
“It’s exciting to be 2-0 and win kind of easy without playing out best during the course of the game. That is a good sign,” UA coach Mike Stoops said. “We were not quite in sync, but I thought offensively we ran the ball effectively and that gave them some problems. Nic was outstanding. He made some great runs.”
The Wildcats, combined with the 70 points last week against Idaho, have now scored more than 100 points in consecutive games for the first time since the 1954 season.
Arizona’s not about to abandon its spread passing attack with quarterback Willie Tuitama completing 25 of 33 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns, but Grigsby might be playing well enough to get more plays called for No. 5.
The bread and butter seemingly will also be the passing game, however, as Tuitama connected with Delashaun Dean for a 7-yard touchdown to go ahead 34-9
Grigsby, who rushed for 169 yards by the first half last week against Idaho, is more than just a good compliment, however. He scored his third touchdown with 1:15 remaining before intermission on an 11-yard scoring run.
After being stopped for a 3-yard loss, Grigsby found a gapping hole up the middle and dragged a Rocket defender for the touchdown on the next play to take a 24-6 lead.
“He has got that Reggie Bush in him,” Stoops said. “He’s got the instincts to cut back and make people miss. I’m really glad with the way he has been playing.”
Grigsby, the Wildcats’ leading rusher a year ago, had his most dazzling run when he ran up the middle of the field, went left, stopped and cutback around the corner and found the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown.
It was the first time a back has rushed for three touchdowns in a half since Mike Bell on Nov. 8 against Washington in 2003.
There was an effort from the start against the Rockets (0-1) that came out focusing on stopping the passing game to play a little smash mouth football.
Grigsby did that well by rushing up the gut for a 7-yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead with 30 seconds left in the first quarter.
The sophomore back rushed for 54 yards on seven carries in the opening quarter, nearly double the 28 total yards Toledo managed.
Toledo did not reach the end zone until early in the fourth quarter after Terrell Turner fumbled a pass reception, which the Rockets Damien McIntosh returned to the Wildcat 3.
Stephen Williams, on the next play, caught a 3-yard touchdown pass with 12:52 left in the game. The play was originally called incomplete but was overruled after being reviewed.
It was the first touchdown the Wildcats allowed this season. It came after the first Arizona turnover.
Arizona went five quarters before giving up a point, but did stiffen on a first and goal from the 5 to force Toledo to settle for a 20-yard Alex Steigerwald field goal with 9:20 remaining in the first half.
Toledo managed 35 and 21-yard field goals as well.