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Arizona football countdown: 23 days, the number of Willie Tuitama TD passes in 2008

A turning point in the program

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

2008 was a fun year. It was the first time the Arizona Wildcats went to a bowl game in a decade. It's also turned into a season that changed the program forever, as the expectation is to be in a bowl game now. Then, it was just a pipe dream.

Leading the offense that year was the legendary Willie Tuitama, who threw 23 TD passes that season. Only Tuitama himself had thrown more TD passes in a single season at Arizona at the time, throwing 28 of them in 2007.

Now, those 23 TD passes are fifth on the school's all-time list, with Nick Foles and Anu Solomon tying the record-setting 28, and Matt Scott chucked 27 scores in 2012.

That's nearly every quarterback since the Tuitama days (no B.J. Denker) (sad face emoji), which is why I think that 2008 season signalled the beginning of new things in Tucson.

Tuitama averaged over 237 passing yards a game that season, and threw just eight interceptions in 399 pass attempts. Mike Thomas may have been the leading receiver that year, reeling in 75 catches for 834 yards, but he was only on the receiving end of four of the 23 TD passes.

Ten (10!) of Tuitama's 23 throwing scores went into the hands of Rob Gronkowski that season. Of Gronk's 47 catches in ten games, ten of them were touchdowns.

Since this 2008 campaign, Arizona has only missed a bowl game once, and only one quarterback has failed to reach the 23 TD mark in one of their seasons (Denker had 16). Maybe the Tuitama era of 2007 and 2008 was just setting the benchmark for what this program will reach every year from here on out.