Turns out all it took for the Arizona Wildcats to start recovering some fumbles was a lucky bounce. That such a bounce came off the groin of a highly touted quarterback only adds to the story.
After failing to record a fumble recovery in its first four games, Arizona had three in last week’s 24-20 home loss to USC. It was the 15th time this season an FBS team had three fumble recoveries in a single game, the first time the Wildcats had done that since 2016 against Grambling.
“A turnover is always pivotal in this game,” said linebacker Jacob Colacion, who was credited with the recovery late in the first half.
The fumble occurred after several USC players looked confused and were not set when the shotgun snap nailed Trojans quarterback JT Daniels in the groin and bounced forward. Colacion, playing his first game of the season, said instinct just kicked in for him.
“I just remember seeing the ball on the ground, seeing a bunch of legs and looking around and no one was going for it so I just dove on it,” he said.
That takeaway didn’t result in points—Lucas Havrisik’s 38-yard field goal just before halftime was partially blocked—but later fumble recoveries by PJ Johnson and Colin Schooler helped fuel Arizona’s fourth-quarter comeback. Those last two were forced, giving the Wildcats five forced fumbles this season.
For Colacion, a redshirt sophomore, the recovery added to a strong debut after missing the first four games with a sports hernia. That injury caused him to miss nearly all of training camp, the linebacker unable to start practicing until about two weeks ago.
He finished with four tackles along with the fumble recovery, mostly playing Will linebacker after Tony Fields II left with a shoulder injury. He’d spent most of the week leading up to the USC game working out at Mike linebacker in anticipation of sophomore Anthony Pandy’s suspension.
“The first couple drives I played a little timid, I wasn’t really used to live contact, especially against a team like USC,” he said. “I feel like after a couple snaps I got back into it and then I was having fun.”
Though he wasn’t on the field for the first four games, Colacion said he felt like Arizona’s defense had more fire last time out.
“We finally realized we can only do what we can do,” he said. “I think this year we seemed less timid playing against USC. More guys were running to the ball, more guys were making plays.”