Arizona beats UNLV 58-13, again
Once again, Arizona football pounded UNLV 58-13, this time rewriting much of the record book in the debut of its new look backfield.
In their season opener, the Wildcats beat the Rebels 58-13 for the second year in a row, this time at home.
“Good job, Arizona,” UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck said. “They took it to us. They did it again like last year.”
UA redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon threw for 425 yards on 25-for-44 passing and four touchdowns and ran for 50 yards on eight carries in his Arizona debut.
Solomon set the freshman passing record with about 13 minutes left. The previous record came in 1996 by Keith Smith in four overtimes at California.
“It felt great,” Solomon said. “You just got to thank everyone, like the wide receiver corps, the running backs, the o-line as well and the defense giving us the ball. You just got to thank them, you know.”
The Wildcats broke the school record for total yards with 787 yards. The previous mark was 691 yards against New Mexico in 1969.
“Anu did a really good job keeping his poise even though we missed a lot of throws early, but it was a good win,” UA head coach Rich Rodriguez said.
Solomon’s 475 yards of total offense was fourth best in school history.
Rodriguez said much of Solomon’s and Arizona’s big yardage numbers were due to poor field positioning.
“[Solomon] could have had 700 if he didn’t miss a few things, so I’ll reserve judgment until I watch the film,” Rodriguez said.
Redshirt senior running back Terris Jones-Grigsby, also making his first start, ran for 124 yards on 13 carries. Freshman Nick Wilson ran for 104 yards on seven carries.
Rodriguez said Arizona was spoiled by having the All-American Ka’Deem Carey, but he was impressed with the current running backs.
“I thought Terris ran really well,” Rodriguez said. “I thought he pressed the right gap and made the right cuts. He ran hard, but he’s a tough, competitive guy.”
Jones-Grigsby, who said he couldn’t sleep Thursday night, said he last had a carry in a football game in December 2010, his senior year of high school.
“My legs are still shaking,” Jones-Grigsby said. “I felt like my legs weighed a thousand pounds.”
Arizona opened the second half with a 92-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior receiver Austin Hill. That was tied for the third-longest pass in program history.
Hill missed 2013 with a knee injury.
“We can’t tease him about being the slowest wide out anymore after he took that one for a touchdown,” Rodriguez said. “It’s good to have him back because he plays every position, and he’s an experienced guy, and he’s very, very reliable.”
Hill said everything he had to go through rushed through his head as he ran down the field.
“I just like to stiff arm people, I guess,” Hill said. “I wasn’t really expecting it to go that far.”
Wilson scored an 85-yard touchdown run with 43 seconds left in the third quarter, the fifth-longest run in school history.
The school record for passing is 510 yard, set by Willie Tuitama in 2007 against Washington. Ten different Arizona receivers caught passes.
“I had, like, a little jitters, you can see with my bad passes throughout the game, but I felt more anxious than nervous,” Solomon said.
Arizona passed for 434 yards and ran for 363, the eighth-most yards the UA has ever passed for.
“If they’re going to load the box up and commit to stopping the run, you gotta be able to take some shots downfield,” Rodriguez said.
UNLV junior quarterback Blake Decker, who is from Mesa, Ariz., and went to Scottsdale Community College, threw for 252 yards on 22-for-41 passing and ran for 56 yards on 10 carries.
Rodriguez said the Rebels are better than last year.
“I think the quarterback played really well, and they got a couple transfers that are better,” Rodriguez said. “They’re going to win some games, trust me on that.”
Announced attendance was 50,103 students, and while students trickled out in the second half, Rodriguez praised the ZonaZoo.
“The ZonaZoo was outstanding,” Rodriguez said. “I’m talking about as good as I’ve seen the student section since I’ve been here and maybe anywhere in the country. They were there early and they were loud.”
Rodriguez improved to 9-0 against non-Pac-12 teams at Arizona.
“Coach Rod likes points and we’re going to give it to him,” Hill said.