Canidate set to return to action against Stanford
Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Stanford head coach Tyrone Willingham had a concise reaction to the news that Arizona junior running back Trung Canidate would play in Saturday's game.
"That's not good news," he said.
But what's bad news for the Cardinal is good news for the Wildcats.
Canidate, Arizona's leading rusher in 1997 with 804 yards for a 100.7 yard per game average, sat out the Hawaii game while his injured right foot continued to heal from a stress fracture.
UA head coach Dick Tomey said that the team's concern is that Canidate is capable of holding onto the ball if he gets hit.
"It's different being in shape to play in a game than it is to practice," Tomey said. "We'll just have to wait and see."
As for Canidate, he described his emotions leading up to the game with one word.
"Flabbergasted," he said. "I'm just dumbfounded right now. I just got a whole bunch of emotions waiting to explode when I go out there Saturday."
Canidate's return will take some pressure off senior Kelvin Eafon, who was the primary rusher last week at Hawaii.
Still, Canidate is not about to let last season's success affect him.
"I don't consider myself a weapon," he said. "I haven't even touched the field yet."
Tomey said that the team will not announce a decision in regards to whether junior Keith Smith or sophomore Ortege Jenkins will start Saturday's game.
"We're just going to see how practice goes," Tomey said. "It's not a complicated issue and it doesn't really matter all that much. I'm more concerned with who finishes than who starts."
Last week it was Smith who finished after Jenkins started. The two each played a quarter in the first half, but it was Smith who played the majority of the time in the second half as he led the Wildcats to the 27-6 victory.
Smith was 17 of 22 for 217 yards and two touchdown passes while Jenkins was 3 of 11 for 19 yards.
Tomey said that the two will be played in a similar fashion against Stanford, with each seeing equal time in the first half and the better of the two dominating second half play.
Tomey also said that part of the reason the team won't name a starter is to keep the Cardinal guessing.
"Both of them present us with a huge challenge," Willingham said.
Among the players who stood out in Tomey's eyes at Hawaii, junior free safety Rafell Jones stood tallest.
"Rafell did a great job," Tomey said. "He was our player of the game."
Jones said that the key to his success against the Rainbows, a game-high 11 tackles, was due to the fact he entered the game with "a more business-type approach, more relaxed."
It was Jones' first appearance for the football team since 1996, when he played mainly on special teams. He redshirted last year because of Arizona's depth in the secondary.
"It was a real good feeling," he said of being out on the field again.
Tomey said that against a team with an option offense like Hawaii, the free safety position "is the most important on the field."
Jones said that despite that responsibility he felt no pressure.
"I didn't think of the pressure. As long as I do my assignment I'll be fine," he said.
As a whole, Jones said that the Hawaii game couldn't have happened soon enough.
"It allowed us to hit other people for a change," he said. "After all those weeks of practice we were tired of hitting each other."
Tomey did announce some changes in the starting line-up yesterday.
Redshirt freshman defensive end Eli Wnek will get to start Saturday, while last week's starting defensive ends, Joe Tafoya and Idris Haroon, will be competing throughout this week in practice to see who lines up on the other side of the line from Wnek.
Wnek had three tackles, including a sack, against the Rainbows.
Also moving into a starting role is sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Thomas, up alongside senior Daniel Greer. Tomey called Greer one of the best players on the defensive line during the Hawaii game.
Greer had two tackles and a sack against the Rainbows.
Thomas leapt over junior Dolphin Tillman on the depth chart.
Chris Jackson can be reached via e-mail at Chris.Jackson@wildcat.arizona.edu.