NCF Nation: Hank Hobson

Franklin sets record in UCLA blowout

November, 4, 2012
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What was supposed to be a shootout in Pasadena, Calif., turned out to be a firing squad. And the hosts weren't even considerate enough to provide the visitors with blindfolds.

The UCLA Bruins blitzed the No. 22 Arizona Wildcats 66-10 to win their third in a row while throwing another wrinkle into an already wide-open Pac-12 South.

Quarterback Brett Hundley -- one of the heroes of last week’s last-second win at Arizona State -- threw three touchdowns on 23 of 28 passing for 288 yards. A pair of those touchdowns went to Joseph Fauria. Hundley also rushed for a fourth score.

Johnathan Franklin, who became UCLA’s all-time leading rusher, carried 24 times for 162 yards and two scores.

Arizona’s explosive offense, which ranked fourth nationally in passing yards and was averaging 39 points per game, was clipped by a motivated UCLA defense that forced three turnovers and limited the Wildcats (5-4, 2-4) to 257 total yards and 3-of-14 on third downs. Conversely, the Bruins (7-2, 4-2) ran up 611 yards of offense.

“I think our guys are real focused,” head coach Jim Mora told the Pac-12 Network. “I think they’ll hit it just as hard next week. Every time you win a game and you keep yourself in the hunt, the next one gets bigger. We’ve got to approach it that way. We can’t get too high on this thing.”

The Wildcats also had a pair of scary injuries. Quarterback Matt Scott left the game in the second half after his head ricocheted into the knee of UCLA’s Datone Jones. He was 15 of 25 for 124 yards before being replaced by B.J. Denker.

Then in the fourth quarter, linebacker Hank Hobson was carted off the field. UPDATE: Head coach Rich Rodriguez said Hobson had movement in his arms and legs and a decision was going to be made whether to keep him overnight in the hospital for observations or to release him so he could travel with the team.

The Bruins travel to Washington State next week for their final road game of the season before closing out the year with back-to-back home games against USC and Stanford. Arizona returns home and will try to reach bowl eligibility when it faces Colorado.

Arizona down two linebackers

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
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Some tough news coming out of Arizona late last week when coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed a report that projected starting linebacker Brian Wagner was leaving the program.

Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com first reported the story.
“I don’t have love for the game anymore. I told coach that, and that was it. It was something I was thinking about for a long time. That’s kind of where I’m at right now ... I think I'm done with football."

Rodriguez later confirmed Wagner's departure with a text.
"He just decided not to play football anymore.”

Wagner, a transfer from Akron who worked mostly with the first team during spring drills, was one of the nation's best tacklers last season, notching 147 stops.

As the Wildcats move to a 3-3-5 defense, they were already light at the linebacker spot. The news was compounded with the confirmation that backup linebacker David Lopez has also left the program.

Rob Hankins, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound sophomore, likely moves into a starting role -- at least for now -- alongside Jake Fischer and Hank Hobson.

Fischer, who missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, represents the bulk of Arizona's linebacking experience. In a Q&A a couple of weeks ago, Fischer half-heartedly joked that Arizona was thin at linebacker. It just got a lot thinner. (Billy Halleck one-liners welcomed).
Every season true freshman make an impact and underclassmen become stars. Who might those guys be in the Pac-12 in 2011?

(Note: With "underclassmen to watch," we mostly stayed away from guys who made a significant impact in 2010, such as Arizona State defensive end Junior Onyeali, Colorado receiver Paul Richardson or California receiver Keenan Allen).

Underclassmen to watch

[+] EnlargeJonathan McKnight
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireArizona cornerback Jonathan McKnight has a bright future.
Jonathan McKnight, CB, So, Arizona: McKnight, younger brother of former USC running back Joe McKnight, might already be the best cover guy in an already good secondary.

Davon Coleman, DE, So, Arizona State: The junior college transfer -- a late signing for the 2011 recruiting class -- might already be the Sun Devils' No. 3 defensive end, and ASU needs him to step up after returning starter James Brooks quit the team.

David Wilkerson, OLB, RFr., California: While fellow outside linebacker Cecil Whiteside might be more heralded, Wilkerson was listed as a starter on on the post-spring depth chart.

Parker Orms, CB, So., Colorado: Orms was the starting nickel back in 2010 before he blew out his knee on the third play of the season-opener against Colorado State. He's now No. 1 at cornerback -- the Buffs more worrisome position -- despite sitting out spring practices.

Scott Crichton, DE, RFr., Oregon State: The Beavers have major questions at defensive end -- a traditionally strong position for their defense. While he didn't come from nowhere, it was a bit of a surprise to see Crichton atop the depth chart after spring practices.

Dietrich Riley, So, SS, UCLA: By the end of the season Riley and Tony Dye might be widely viewed as the best safety combo in the conference. Heck, they might already be.

Dres Anderson, RFr, WR, Utah: Anderson already looks like the Utes' No. 2 option after junior DeVonte Christopher.

Josh Shirley, RFr., LB, Washington: Shirley was such a force as a pass-rusher this past spring, they created a position for him: "Rush" linebacker.

Rickey Galvin, RFr, RB, Washington State: Galvin broke his arm at Oklahoma State on the first play of his college career, which ended his debut season. He's speedy and shifty and the Cougars really need him to provide a running threat to help out quarterback Jeff Tuel.

Impact freshmen

Hank Hobson, LB, Arizona: The Wildcats have major depth issues at linebacker. Hobson looks like the most ready-made guy in the incoming class. He might not start, but he's a good bet to be the No. 4 guy behind the starting three.

Stefan McClure, CB, California: While many Cal fans are more eager to see 325-pound nose tackle Viliami Moala, the Bears have depth issues at cornerback, and McClure is almost certain to be in the mix.

Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon: While Oregon needs help at receiver, and at least one one of the incoming guys is almost certain to climb into a prime spot in the rotation, we don't know who that will be. We feel pretty good projecting Lyerla as the Ducks' No. 2 tight end behind David Paulson.

James Vaughters, ILB, Stanford: The word most often used to describe Vaughters? "Beast." Stanford is solid at linebacker, but this guy is going to play, and and might well end up suggesting a second-coming of Vontaze Burfict by season's end.

George Farmer, WR, USC: There might be somebody who doesn't believe Farmer is a budding star but I have yet to speak with him. Even USC super-soph Robert Woods talks about Farmer's freakish skills.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: Seferian-Jenkins showed this past spring that he's ready for prime time. He's likely to be the Huskies' starting tight end. A runner-up for the Huskies, by the way, is receiver Kasen Williams, but he will join a deep, veteran crew of receivers.
Arizona has lost a third contributor -- and second defensive starter -- to a knee injury.

Jake Fischer, who started at strongside linebacker last season, tore his ACL late in the spring game Saturday and will have surgery next week. He likely will be out six to eight months.

The Wildcats previously lost safety Adam Hall and backup tailback Greg Nwoko to knee injuries this spring.

Arizona is deeper in the secondary than at linebacker, where Fischer was one of three returning starters. Two backups from 2010, R.J. Young and Trevor Erno, quit the team. Redshirt freshman Kyle Benson is listed as Fischer's backup on the latest depth chart, while walk-on Bilal Muhammed is listed as the backup at the other two spots.

Defensive coordinator Tim Kish said last week before Fischer's injury that he expected incoming freshmen Rob Hankins, Hank Hobson and Domonique Petties to immediately compete for playing time. Now they figure to immediately compete to start.

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