The word of the day is “freak.”
As in Arizona coach Mike Stoops saying several times Monday, referring to that play in last Saturday’s painful loss at Washington, “it was just a freak thing” or some variation thereof.
But that wasn’t the only freaky thing going on.
On Friday morning, senior defensive tackle Earl Mitchell was standing in a hallway at McKale Center. Someone called his name. He glanced. He started to turn his head back around. A door opened from the baseball locker room.
The edge of the door hit him above the eye.
“It was pretty much just a freak accident,” Mitchell said Monday.
Freakish enough that he needed a couple of stitches in his eyebrow, and coaches worried about a head injury, so Mitchell didn’t travel with the team to Seattle later that day. That put the Wildcats down two starting defensive linemen — Mitchell and end Brooks Reed, who missed his second consecutive game with an ankle injury.
“It’s crazy. Real unfortunate,” Mitchell said. “The thing is, it could have happened to anybody. To be honest, I’m glad it happened to me rather than somebody else walking down the hallway.”
Arizona started Lolomana Mikaele at defensive tackle, with D’Aundre Reed starting at end. Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops revealed Monday that Reed suffered a broken hand during the game, but was out there at the end of the game because the line was “bare bones.”
D’Aundre Reed’s availability for Saturday isn’t yet known.
Mitchell said he was confident about playing this week, but Mike Stoops called Mitchell and Reed “kind of day to day.”
“Getting those two guys healthy will be a big factor in this game,” Stoops said, referring to an expected physical battle against Stanford and bull-dozing running back Toby Gerhart.
On the other side of UA’s line, starting left guard Conan Amituanai suffered a knee injury against Washington. “Hopefully, it’s just an MCL sprain,” Stoops said. If it is, Amituanai figures to be out 2-3 weeks. He was scheduled for an MRI exam this afternoon.
“At least we have some depth,” Stoops said.
The starting line figures to look like this: LT Phillip Garcia, LG Mike Diaz (moving from left tackle), C Colin Baxter, RG Herman Hall, RT Adam Grant.
Right guard Vaughn Dotsy is back from a concussion, so he could go into the lineup, with Hall moving to the right side for more mix-and-match possibilities.
Stoops said running backs Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin were still “banged up” for the Washington game, leaving the bulk of the work to Greg Nwoko. More will be known about the status of Grigsby and Antolin later in the week.
At receiver, Bug Wright, who has missed two full games because of a knee injury, “should be back, hopefully,” Stoops said. Wright was scheduled to participate in some of practice this afternoon.
“He looked pretty good running at the end of the week last week,” Stoops said.