By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior Derrick Stewart, who was suspended from the team for two games after being charged with aggravated assault using a deadly weapon at a party for Pacific 10 Conference athletes May 21, was reinstated by Arizona head coach Dick Tomey.
"He will be second (string) at (cornerback) and he will be in the kicking game," Tomey said. "He was a starter when he was suspended, but you just have to run with the grain. You can't really do anything about that."
˜ ˜ ˜
Last Thursday the Wildcats' special teams were just that Ÿ special. But if No. 17 Arizona (2-0) hopes to defeat Illinois Saturday, the special teams may need to become something more.
Vastly overshadowed by the events after Thursday night's game were the heroics of junior Armon Williams, the Pac-10 special teams player of the week.
With 3:50 left in the game, Williams, a linebacker and special-teams member, blocked and recovered a punt on the Georgia Tech 4-yard line. That block set up the winning score for Arizona. He also came within inches of blocking another punt earlier in the game.
"We should be very good because we have a lot of returning players," Tomey said. "Special teams are always a big part of a football game."
˜ ˜ ˜
Saturday marks just the third meeting between UA and Illinois (0-2). The two teams met in Tucson in 1990 and the Wildcats came away with a 28-16 victory. Three years later in Champaign, Ill., the Wildcats escaped with a 16-14 win.
The UA defense scored all the points in that contest. Linebacker Sean Harris, now with the Chicago Bears, ran for a 76-yard touchdown after scooping up an Illini fumble. The Wildcats scored again when Brandon Sanders caused a fumble and Jim Hoffman picked up the ball and ran 46 yards for the score. A Jimmie Hopkins sack provided the difference.
"They always have been tough defensively," Tomey said of Illinois. "A team that hasn't won is dangerous."
˜ ˜ ˜
The UA running game managed just 23 yards against Georgia Tech Thursday night and the Yellow Jacket defense didn't even feature anyone near the skill level of Illinois' Simeon Rice. The 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound Rice is considered by many as the top defensive player in the country, as well as a possible No. 1 NFL draft pick. How well the Arizona ground game fares could well depend on tight end Mike Metzler's blocking performance against the outside rush.
"We're going to try and block those guys with whoever can block them," Tomey said. "Rice is like Tedy (Bruschi) Ÿ I don't think you're going to keep Tedy out of the backfield for the entire game."
Arizona's rushing total against Georgia Tech was its lowest since 1958. In that game, the Wildcats officially had -49 yards rushing against Arizona State.
Read Next Article