Griffey earns shot with physical play on special teams

November 18, 2013

TUCSON, Ariz. -- It's been a year and a half in the making, but Trey Griffey made it into the stat sheet for Arizona football.

On Saturday, the redshirt freshman had four catches for 45 yards -- the first catches of his career.

How did he feel about the first catch?

"It felt good," he said. "I was nervous, but then it was over."

How much he plays against Oregon this weekend will soon be seen. But his role in the offense on Saturday against Washington State came as a surprise. No one had really mentioned him -- or his progress -- since August.

Griffey, the son of future baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr., caught the coaching staff's attention with his physical play on special teams, which led to the opportunity at wide receiver.

"He showed some of his competitiveness on special teams," head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We thought, gee, this is a physical guy on the kickoffs and kickoff returns. His competitiveness and athletic ability is getting better. He's getting better though the season."

Rodriguez added: "He played pretty well."

The soft-spoken Griffey all he's trying to do is "go out and do my best. That's basically it."

Arizona's depleted receiver ranks helped Griffey move up in the pecking order. Sophomore Garic Wharton and David Richards didn't play on Saturday because of injuries.

Rodriguez said he'd like to have a rotation of about seven to eight receivers.

Rodriguez said there are no plans to replace field-goal kicker Jake Smith, who missed two attempts on Saturday (34, 40 yards). Casey Skowron will continue to kick in practice.

"Unless Jake has an off week of practice, it'll be Jake," Rodriguez said. "If he misses a couple of easy ones or is having an awful warmup in pre-game, I'll change. ... But field goals aren't going to win this game. We have to make touchdowns."

One of the odder moments in the stadium on Saturday occurred with the punt team and specifically Drew Riggleman, a sophomore from Sahuaro High in Tucson. Early in the second half, Riggleman picked up a bad snap and was about to punt, seemingly dropping the ball to kick it, but didn't.

What did Riggleman tell Rodriguez on the non-kick?

"He really didn't tell me anything, and if he did, I wasn't listening," Rodriguez said. "It was a low snap, and I think he panicked. He had been kicking really well. I think it's an experience thing. .. It just came at the wrong time."

The mishap allowed Washington State to take possession at Arizona's 31. Six plays later, the Cougars took a 17-14 lead.