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Territorial Cup 2016: Arizona abandoned the no-huddle because ASU knew the Wildcats’ signals

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Arizona adjusted and it worked to perfection

Arizona State v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There were plenty of firsts for the Arizona Wildcats on Friday as they took back the Territorial Cup from the hated Arizona State Sun Devils.

They won their first Pac-12 game of the season, they had three players eclipse 100 yards rushing for the first time since 1993, and they broke a school-record for rushing yards with 511.

Arizona also abandoned the no-huddle aspect of its uptempo offense for the first time since...the Mike Stoops era?

But that is what happens when ASU comes to town.

“ASU be cheatin,’” said Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins, who ran for 183 yards in the 56-35 win. “They know our signals. Sometimes they’ll call out some of our calls. I’ll go up to the line, get a signal from the sideline, walk up to the line and then the defense will be calling out our play ‘oh run right’ or ‘pass left’ doing this, doing that, so we had to switch it up a little bit.”

“A little bit” is an understatement. The Wildcats’ new play-calling method was unlike anything they have done since Rich Rodriguez took over the program in 2012.

Rather than gawking at coordinators for signals between plays, Arizona was rushing in a player from the sideline to relay a play-call to the huddled Wildcat offense.

After the call was divulged to Dawkins, the Wildcats hurried to the line of scrimmage, trying to maintain their notoriously high-octane offense as best they could.

It was unprecedented, but it worked. Dawkins said ASU did not call a single play of Arizona’s correctly.

“That’s why we utilized the huddle,” said Dawkins, who only needed to complete three passes in the victory. “We kept them on their toes the whole game and they just couldn’t find anything to fix that. We didn’t need to pass, we can run all game, so I don’t feel bad about that at all. I can run 100 times a game and not mind it as long as we’re putting points on the board.”

And were they ever.

The Wildcats gashed the Sun Devils on the ground, one large chunk of yards after another, all the way to a new rushing record.

Arizona’s 56-point outburst was easily its highest offensive output in its 3-9 season, and it was the most points the Wildcats have scored against ASU since they drubbed the Sun Devils 67-0 in 1946.

“Once we run and line up they still have to make all their corrections,” Dawkins said. “So once you guys go back and re-watch the film, you’ll see them jumping around and doing this and that trying to get right, but we’re still keeping up our fast pace, and I was catching them off-balance and that’s when you saw the big plays keep striking.”

ASU was outsmarted and losing the right to house the Territorial Cup was the consequence.

“ASU’s always got tricks up their sleeve, but we always got tricks up our sleeves for them too,” Dawkins said. “That was just another way to get prepared for them.”


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