Arizona was able to dominate South Carolina State in every way Saturday night. Read on for a look at important plays, statistics, and more.
Arizona opened the game with a touchdown drive. It was the first time this season that the Wildcats punched it into the end zone on their opening drive. It was a seven-play, 75-yard drive, taking three minutes to complete. The drive was capped off by a 15-yard touchdown catch by Richard Morrison.
In the first two weeks of the season, Arizona had only put up a total of three points on The Opening drive. Against Toledo, a Richard Morrison dropped touchdown pass forced the Wildcats to take a field goal. A week ago, Arizona was forced to punt on the first series of the night.
Richard Morrison had an up and down day, although it seemed to even out. He started the game with a 15-yard touchdown reception on the opening drive. On the ensuing drive, he fumbled it on the South Carolina State 45-yard line. Morrison finished the day with four catches for 25 yards and the touchdown.
Morrison also doubles as Arizona's punt returner and late in the second quarter, he muffed a punt, but recovered it himself.
Arizona place-kicker John Bonano was the reigning Pac-12 Special Teams player of the week. The jinx was on as he missed his first, and only, attempt on the night. He set up for a 25-yard field goal and pushed it wide right. Bonano was a perfect 8 for 8 on the night with PATs.
After leading the conference in total yardage coming into the game, Matt Scott followed up last week's 375-yard performance with 359 yards of total offense this weekend. Scott threw for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns, while running for 61 yards and a touchdown. He was pulled after the third quarter, giving way to backup, B.J. Denker.
"I didn't feel that my numbers were like that," Matt Scott said. "I thought I missed a couple passes here and there. I think I can do better."
Scott completed 30 out of 36 passes on the night and held a quarterback rating of 178, his highest on the season. After the game, Scott claimed that he could do better.
"I think I can do 36 out of 36," he said.
Austin Hill led the Pac-12 conference in receiving yards at the end of last week. He continued his dominance of opposing secondary's on Saturday, racking up 56 yards on 5 catches. Hill was held without a touchdown catch for the first time this season, but did not play a majority of the second half.
Taimi Tutogi caught a touchdown pass early in the second quarter, giving Arizona a 14-point lead at the time. Matt Scott threw a 14-yard strike to the fullback, who was wide open in the end zone. It was the second touchdown catch of Tutogi's career. The first one came a year ago on October 1, when he caught a 4-yarder from Nick Foles at USC.
Jonathan McKnight has now intercepted a pass in consecutive games as he grabbed a pick late in the second quarter. He snagged the under thrown ball on the Arizona 41-yard line, but was unable to return it. The Wildcats took over, but had to punt three plays later.
Late in the third quarter, Rich Rodriguez began pulling his starters and letting the reserves get some well-needed playing time. The first notable substitution was Dakota Conwell for Jake Fischer. Conwell filled the role nicely, picking up a sack as his first collegiate tackle. It was his only tackle on the night.
The second big substitution was B.J Denker for Matt Scott. Denker entered the game to start the fourth quarter and led a fourteen-play, 87-yard drive for a touchdown. He threw his first touchdown pass to Sean Willet (first touchdown catch) on a fourth and six on the SCSU 17-yard line.
"We wanted to get some more things going offensively," Rodriguez said. "I wanted to put B.J. in when it was 28, but we waited until it was 35-0 to put him in.
"The starters played half of what they have been playing. This was good to get the other guys some experience and get the other guys out of there."
Arizona broke a record on Saturday night by recording 43 first downs. That number shattered the previous record of 37, achieved against USC in 2011.
"I didn't realize that we had 43 first downs," Rodriguez said. "It's a good thing that we're getting first downs, but that means we aren't getting many big plays."
Arizona's defense held South Carolina State's offense to just 154 yards of total offense including just 65 on the ground. The defense also held South Carolina State to just eight first downs over the game and held the Bulldogs scoreless. The last time Arizona held an opponent scoreless was in 2010 when the Wildcats beat Idaho 70-0.
"Our guys are going to give it all they've got and it was nice for them to come out and get the shutout," Rodriguez said.
"Shutouts are always big," Jourdon Grandon added. "We try to go out and shut out everybody. To go out and get the first shut out in a few years, it's pretty big."