Criner’s status in question vs. Cardinal

Arizona receiver Juron Criner is questionable for Saturday’s game against No. 6 Stanford after undergoing an appendectomy last Monday, according to head coach Mike Stoops.

Criner will be re-evaluated throughout the week and the Wildcats won’t know his status until Thursday at the earliest. Stoops said that if he is cleared to play, the decision is completely in Criner’s hands.

“Nobody understands Juron’s body like Juron does, and I trust Juron,” Stoops said. “If he’s healthy he’ll play. That’s as simple as I can make it, along with the doctor’s consent. Juron wants to be there. He’ll be there if he can and that’s kind of how we go into it.”

Stoops admitted he is no expert and can’t provide a specific timeline, but Criner’s athleticism suggests that the 6-foot-4 receiver will be back sooner than most players.

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“He’s a very unique athlete. He’s not like me and you going in there and getting this done,” Stoops said. “He’ll come back a lot quicker.”

Criner, who caught six balls for 151 yards and a score against NAU in week one, didn’t travel with the UA to Stillwater, Okla. News of the surgery didn’t break until Stoops told ESPN hours before kickoff on Thursday.

Stoops reiterated the need to protect his players, and said that he will continue to do so in regards to Criner’s status.

“There has to be some privacy and protection for us and that’s the only reason,” Stoops said. “I’ve never deceived or lied, or I’ve tried not to if there wasn’t a reason to benefit our team. I have to protect those guys first and will always do that.”

Although receivers Austin Hill and Dan Buckner filled in nicely for Criner against Oklahoma State, the Wildcats need their No. 1 receiver more than ever against a tough Cardinal defense.

Stanford boasts one of the top defensive backfields in the Pac-12. Last season the Cardinal ranked second in the conference in interceptions (18), third in passing yards yielded per game (202.0) and fourth in passing touchdowns allowed.

“They did a great job with us last year banging our receivers at the line of scrimmage not letting them off,” said quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo, who called Stanford’s defense the NCAA equivalent to the Pittsburgh Steelers. “They mix up their coverages a lot.”


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