Arizona football notes: Onwuasor and Lee reunite, Morrison receives Pac-12 honor
The game between USC and Arizona, on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Arizona Stadium, is an important Pac-12 South matchup, particularly for the UA. But for one Wildcat it marks the first time he’ll have the chance to play against a former teammate and close friend.
Arizona safety Patrick Onwuasor and USC standout receiver Marqise Lee played basketball and grew up together in Southern California before parting ways in college.
“I think we won one state championship together,” Onwuasor said.
“He was always the fastest guy on the team. That’s one of my best boys.”
When Lee and Onwuasor meet each other on the field Saturday, Onwuasor will try to keep up with his friend, who leads the Pac-12 in receiving yards and receptions with 784 and 60, respectively.
“Our corners are going to have to get hands on them,” Onwuasor said. “We have to stay over the top of them and we can’t take our eyes off of them. If they’re on the same side, something’s up. If they’re on different sides, something’s up.”
Arizona quarterback Matt Scott, a Southern California native, is also familiar with the play of USC quarterback Matt Barkley, a potential Heisman contender.
“It’s a big opportunity,” Scott said. “I played him back in high school. It was a good game. He ended up winning, so there’s a little bit of bad blood there.”
Another game, another tight end
For the third game in a row, Arizona’s small defenders will be matched against a big tight end in an offense that thrives on his production.
Like Stanford, USC has two big tight ends that don’t get as much production as wide receivers Robert Woods and Lee, but are just as dangerous.
Co-starters Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer both stand at 6-foot-4-inches or higher and weigh 255 pounds each.
Grimble and Telfer have combined for just 21 receptions and 272 yards, but also have a combined five touchdowns. The problem is their production could see a significant spike against Arizona, whose largest linebacker is the 6-foot-3 Marquis Flowers.
“I wish we had some magic pills to see our guys grow,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I don’t think there’s another league close to the number of athletic tight ends [in the Pac-12].
If you put a couple guys on them, that’s one less guy who can get fast pressure on the quarterback.
“Their guys can probably eat peanuts off the top of our guys’ heads.”
Daytime start for USC
For the first time this season, Arizona will play a home game earlier than 7 p.m. The start time is set for 12:30 p.m., which Rodriguez said he and the rest of his staff loves.
“I’m tickled to death,” Rodriguez said. “It’s probably pretty neat for our fans to tailgate for a long time, but I’d rather just get up and play. It’s good to have a day game.”
In preparation for Stanford, Rodriguez and the staff moved practices to 6:30 a.m. so players would be used to waking up early when they arrived in northern California, but this week the Wildcats will stick to their regular afternoon practice schedule.
Morrison receives Pac-12 honor
The Arizona return game has struggled all season, but against Washington receiver/punt returner Richard Morrison stepped up to the plate. The Pac-12 took notice, honoring him as the Pac-12 special teams player of the week.
In the third quarter of the 52-17 win, Morrison returned the ball 63 yards for the Wildcats first punt return touchdown since Bug Wright in 2009.