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Arizona football: Nick Wilson may return at UTEP; Nathan Tilford could have bigger role

Wilson (ankle) sat out Saturday’s game vs. Houston

NCAA Football: Grambling State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Wilson dressed for Saturday’s game against Houston and went through usual pregame warmups, but did not play in the Arizona Wildcats’ 19-16 loss due to an ankle injury.

Thus, J.J. Taylor was asked to lead Arizona’s running game against a stout Houston run defense and he fared well.

The redshirt freshman ran for a game-high 87 yards on 17 carries. But don’t expect Taylor to see that type of workload against UTEP on Friday.

“He probably played a few more plays than he normally would,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said of Taylor, who broke his ankle as a true freshman last year.

“J.J. can do it. He’s in good enough shape and we have Zach Green but going forward, whether Nick plays or not, we’ve gotta get more rotations in there to keep J.J. healthy because he’s such a dynamic guy and he goes full speed all the time.”

Rodriguez thought Wilson was going to be able to play vs. Houston, and hopes Wilson will return Friday at UTEP.

Green was Taylor’s lone backup last Saturday, but Rodriguez expects true freshman Nathan Tilford to take on a bigger role.


“We’re just going to keep working him,” Rodriguez said. “As the weeks go by, it’s just another week that he learns. He’s on some special teams now. I think he’s going to be a little more experienced every week. As he gets more confident, we’ll keep putting him in there. He’s a talented young guy. As far as a freshman, because he got here early, he’s a very conscientious guy. There’s just a lot of really good ones in front of him.”

Tilford, a former four-star recruit, had four carries for 79 yards in Arizona’s season-opener vs. NAU, including a 65-yard run.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire