The Arizona Wildcats are last in the NCAA in a major statistical category — and thrilled about it.
Arizona has been penalized just 25 times in its first eight games, the lowest total among all Division I-A schools. The Wildcats were not flagged in their latest game, a victory over Cal, and just once in their previous game, a loss to USC.
Should they stay disciplined through the final month of the season, the Wildcats will be the school’s least-penalized team since 1937. That squad was flagged 2.5 times per game; this year’s team is sitting at 3.1 per game.
“It comes from discipline and being focused to play,” coach Mike Stoops said. “Sometimes, penalties are a lack of focus. That’s the one thing we’ve been decent at throughout the course of the year. Nobody’s been more disciplined than Eben Britton.”
Britton, the Wildcats’ starting left tackle, has not been officially penalized this year. Britton was flagged for shoving Cal linebacker Zack Follett following a play in Week 7, but the penalty was canceled because of off-setting calls.
Britton, the Cats’ best blocker, credits offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh for keeping the team in line.
“Coach Bill gives us up-downs when we jump offside in practice,” he said.
“Maybe that’s it.”
Looking for an unsung hero through the first eight games of the season? Try Brooks Reed.
The sophomore defensive end has 22 tackles and leads the team with four tackles-for-loss and four sacks. His takedown of USC quarterback Mark Sanchez two weeks ago led to the Wildcats’ lone touchdown.
“Brooksy’s been probably one of our most underrated players, play-in and play-out,” Stoops said. “His toughness, his ability to play a physical game. He’s just gotten better and better.
“I really like what he does on a down-in and down-out basis. There’s nobody who plays harder than him.”
Reed, a converted fullback, was held without a tackle in the Wildcats’ first two games.
He had six stops in a Week 3 loss at New Mexico, and followed it a week later with his first sack of the season. ”
• Terrell Reese has been suspended indefinitely for academic reasons, marking the third time this season the sophomore wide receiver has been in trouble. Reese was arrested Sept. 5 and charged with three counts of driving under the influence.