Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats Venture Into Enemy Territory At Oregon
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: September 17, 2012
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Sept. 17, 2012

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No. 22 Arizona (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) at No. 3 Oregon (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12)
Date: Sept. 22  |  Time: 7:30 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Eugene, Ore. (Autzen Stadium -- 54,000)
TV Broadcast: ESPN
TV Broadcasters: Joe Tessitore (play-by-play), Matt Millen (analyst), Shelley Smith (sideline)
UA Radio: Arizona Radio Network, 1290 AM Tucson
UA Radio Broadcasters: Brian Jeffries (pxp), Lamont Lovett (color analyst), Dana Cooper (sideline analyst)
Satellite Radio: XM: 194 (UA radio call), 138 (UO); Sirius 93 (UA), 200 (UO).
National Radio: Dial Global Sports -- John Tautges (pxp), Terry Donahue (analyst)

Some Game Themes: A pair of nationally-ranked unbeatens, both unscathed in non-conference action, now foray into Pac-12 play ... Two of the nation's longest current win streaks push their limits with the winner gaining a leg up on competition in their respective Pac-12 division ... Chip Kelly, the mastermind of the crazed "blur offense", meets Rich Rodriguez, one of the first pioneers of the up-tempo spread offenses and one who considers huddles a waste of time ... Another shootout between the schools, which share some entertaining recent history, is likely ... The Cats and Ducks have combined for a mindboggling 3,603 yards on 539 plays in this still very young season ... The don't-blink pace of the offenses should not steal all the attention, though ... Defense, notably the ability - or inability - to force turnovers and get stops, will be critical. In that regard, both squads have had their moments, but face the stiffest tests to date ... How does Arizona's new 3-3-5 defensive alignment suit defending De'Anthony Thomas, Kenjon Barner, Marcus Mariota and the high-flying Ducks? Does Matt Scott, one of the premier dual threat quarterbacks in the nation, continue his sterling start to his senior campaign alongside a cast of highly-productive skill players? ... Can the Cats, ranked for the second straight week, further establish their "hard edge" mentality and topple a ranked team for the second time in three weeks? ... The first venture into enemy territory for the Wildcats in the Rodriguez era.

Last Week: Arizona pummeled South Carolina State, 56-0, last Saturday to improve to 3-0 for the second time in three seasons ... The Wildcats rolled up 689 yards of total offense - two shy of a school record - and established new single game records for first downs (43) and offensive plays (102). Quarterback Matt Scott continued his efficient play in three quarters of action, completing 30-of-36 passes for 288 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. His backup, B.J. Denker, saw his first action and did not disappoint, completing 6-of-10 attempts for 76 yards and a touchdown. The rushing attack, led by Daniel Jenkins' 76 yards and a score, rushed for 323 markers on 56 totes. Eight players scored a touchdown, split between four rushing and four receiving. A total of 12 Wildcats recorded a pass reception in the game, while eight finished with positive rushing yards. Defensively, Jonathan McKnight collected an interception for the second straight game. The Wildcats limited the Bulldogs to just eight first downs in the game, the fewest gained by an opponent in 32 games. In the process, S.C. State mustered just 154 total yards of offense (65 rushing, 89 passing) on 54 plays. The 2.9 yards per play gained were the fewest against the Wildcats in the last 26 games. In the passing game, UA yielded just 2.9 yards per attempt on 25 throws in the game, also the lowest total in the last 26 contests. A total of 75 players saw action in the game.

Arizona in the Rankings: Arizona moved up to No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll after entering at No. 24 last week. The Wildcats also improved their ranking to No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, a week after checking in at No. 25. Prior to their Sept. 9 ranking, Arizona had not been ranked the AP poll since November of 2010, when its streak of 11-consecutive weeks of being ranked was snapped on Nov. 26 at then-No. 1 Oregon, a 48-29 setback for the then No. 20 Wildcats.

Against The Top 25: With a 59-38 victory over then-No. 18 Oklahoma State on Sept. 8, Arizona has defeated a ranked team in the AP Top 25 poll in eight of the last nine seasons. The 59 points and 21-point margin of victory were convincing, especially when taking into account the initial 14-0 deficit. In 137 previous games against Top 25 opponents, Arizona had topped the 50-point barrier just once - a 52-14 thrashing of No. 7 UCLA in 2005. The highest-ranked foe to go down in the last nine seasons was then-No. 2 Oregon, 34-24, in Tucson on Nov. 15, 2007. Historically, Arizona is 40-97-1 against teams ranked in the Associated Press poll.

The Coaches: Arizona - Rich Rodriguez(West Virginia '86), first year at Arizona (3-0) and 18th as a head coach overall (123-84-2). Rodriguez was introduced as the 30th head coach of the UA football program on Nov. 22, 2011. He carries Division I records of 3-0 at Arizona, 60-26 at West Virginia (2001-2007) and 15-22 at Michigan (2008-10). He began his head coaching career at Salem (W.Va.) University in 1988 and then coached at Glenville State (W.Va.) from 1990-96. Rodriguez's West Virginia teams were Big East Champions in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 while appearing in two BCS bowls, the 2005 Sugar Bowl with a victory over Georgia for an 11-1 record and a victory over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl to finish 10-2 shortly after Rodriguez had left for Michigan. Oregon - Chip Kelly (New Hampshire '90) is in his fourth year at Oregon (37-6) and fourth year overall as a head coach. He took the Ducks to the 2010 BCS title game and the 2011 Rose Bowl following a third straight conference championship. He joined the Oregon staff as offensive coordinator (2007-08) after serving as OC and quarterbacks coach at New Hampshire from 1999-2006. He began his career as a defensive coach at Columbia in 1990 and coached on offense for all but three of his years as an assistant.

UA-Oregon 2011: A capacity crowd of 56,096 showed up for Family Weekend at Arizona Stadium but the fare turned out to be PG-13 as the No. 10 Oregon Ducks ran around, through and over Arizona, 56-31. UO amassed 415 rushing yards, the most against Arizona since UO ran for 389 in 2010. The Ducks' attack was spearheaded by LaMichael James' 288 markers. That total matched the Arizona Stadium record set by Trung Canidate against ASU in 1998 and, pending some additional research, eclipsed a 69-year-old opponents' mark by Doc Mobley (278) of Hardin Simmons in October 1942. James pulled off his feat with a modest 23 carries, averaging 12.5 yards, and crossed the goal line on runs of 12 and 19 yards. The Ducks jumped to a 14-0 lead seven minutes into the game with two long, quick drives and then added three more TDs to lead at the half, 35-9. Arizona fought back with 21 unanswered points and some effective defense to trail by 11 with five minutes left in the third quarter, but the Ducks' running game persisted thereafter. The 56 points were the most against Arizona under Mike Stoops and the most in its last 98 games and eight seasons (dating to a 59-7 loss at Purdue in 2003.) UA quarterback Nick Foles battled against an Oregon pass rush (five sacks) and half a dozen dropped balls by his mates (including two potential TD throws) and threw for 398 yards and three scores. The Cats had a then-season-high 480 yards in total offense helped by some modest running (82) but were no match for Oregon's 8.8 yards per rush. UA receiver David Douglas had a career-best 120 receiving yards on seven catches while Juron Criner snared nine passes for 96 markers. Foles extended his school-record streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 198, true freshman RB Ka'Deem Carey set school records with nine kickoff returns for 197 yards and cornerback Trevin Wade broke up three passes.

Total Offense: Arizona's offense has racked up 1,814 yards of total offense to date, a total aided by two of the top three single game team performances in school history. The Wildcats' 624 yards of offense against Toledo in the season opener was the second-most ever in a single game until UA topped that mark with 689 against South Carolina State (record is 691 against New Mexico in 1969). Along the way, the Wildcats have established themselves as one of the prolific offensive teams in the early part of this season. 

A Fix For Six: Arizona carries a five-game winning streak into Saturday's showdown with No. 3 Oregon, which owns a six-game unbeaten streak of its own. For the Wildcats, it's their most consecutive victories since winning the final seven games of the 1998 season. A win this week would put Arizona at 4-0 to start a season for the second time in three years (2010).

Three and Oh: Arizona finished its non-conference slate 3-0 for the second time as it defeated a reputable MAC program (Toledo), a nationally-ranked Big 12 foe (Oklahoma State) and an FCS opponent (South Carolina State). It's a solid start for Rich Rodriguez and Co., who is set to get a first taste of conference play with plenty to feel good about. The 3-0 start to the 2012 campaign is just the 10th of its kind since the Wildcats joined the conference in 1978. The other nine seasons are: 2010, 2001, 1998, 1994, 1993, 1990, 1986, 1985 and 1983.

Light It Up: Through three games, the Wildcats are No. 12 in the nation with a 46.3 scoring average. They have 139 points, with 115 of those coming in the last two games in a convincing upset of then-No. 18 Oklahoma State (59-38) and a rout of South Carolina State (56-0). UA has eclipsed 100 combined points in consecutive games for the seventh time in school history. In fact, only the 1952 squad's 119 points (vs. Hawaii, 57-7, and New Mexico State 62-12) in back-to-back games stand in the way of a new school mark.

Scoring In Perspective: Arizona's 139 points in three games are already challenging some season totals from the past decade. Mike Stoops' first UA team scored 164 points over 11 games in 2004, one season after the Wildcats scored 181 in an 11-game 2003 campaign. To his credit, Stoops' teams steadily improved after the lowly '04 campaign and topped out at 476 points in a 13-game season in 2008. In fact, the 36.6 points per game that season was the second-highest average in program history. The 1954 gridiron squad holds the top mark, a 38.5 per game clip. Rich Rodriguez's first team is sitting at 46.3 with three-fourths of the regular season schedule still to come.

Moving The Chains: No team is moving the chains more often than the Wildcats. Arizona, which set a school record with 43 first downs against South Carolina State, leads all FBS teams with 108 first downs after three games. That's a clip of 36 chain-movers per game, a full 10 first downs more per game than the 2011 Wildcat squad that set a new school record for per-game production (25.8 first downs per game). This week Arizona goes up against an Oregon club that ranks sixth nationally with 89 first downs.

Flag Days: Arizona's opponents have seen plenty of yellow in the early stages of the 2012 season. The Wildcats lead all FBS schools in opponent penalty yards (340), a staggering number inflated by a school-record 167 yards against Oklahoma State two weeks ago and an additional 107 markers for South Carolina State. Arizona, meanwhile, has been flagged just 15 times for 117 yards (39.0 per game), among the top-30 teams for fewest penalty yards. Saturday's meeting will be an interesting one from the penalty standpoint. Can the Wildcats maintain their discipline and avoid costly penalties? Will the opponents continue their trends of committing fouls against the Cats? It's an area Oregon is trying to clean up, as it currently ranks No. 112 nationally with 81.7 penalty yards per game.

Spread the Wealth: In the 56-0 shutout against South Carolina State, eight different Wildcats combined for the eight touchdowns. Richard Morrison (15-yard reception), Taimi Tutogi (14-yard reception), Ka'Deem Carey (7-yard rush), Matt Scott (10-yard rush), Dan Buckner (27-yard reception), Daniel Jenkins (5-yard rush), Sean Willett (17-yard reception) and Jared Baker (4-yard rush) were the benefactors of a 689-yard total offense output. A total of 12 players caught a pass, and five gained at least 42 rushing yards as UA churned out 366 passing yards and 323 rushing yards. From the scoring standpoint, the Cats were just one touchdown short of matching the believed-to-be school record of nine different players collecting a touchdown (2008 vs. Idaho, 70-0). In that game, only running back Nic Grigsby scored multiple times out of the 10 touchdowns. In 2012, Arizona has 11 players that have scored at least one of the team's 18 touchdowns. Running back Ka'Deem Carey leads the Wildcats with six total touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving).

Don't Blink: Arizona set a school by running 102 offensive plays last week against South Carolina State. After two games, the Cats have run 280 plays (93.3 per game), a figure that ranks as second-most nationally. The breakneck offensive pace is sure to continue this week against the Ducks, whose offense boasts a national reputation for its fast-tempo offense. Oregon currently ranks tied for ninth nationally with 259 offensive plays (86.3 per game). If the averages hold up, we could see close to 180 combined plays this week. That would be nothing new for the Wildcats, who have twice established a new school record for most combined plays in a game this season. Arizona and Toledo combined for 182 in the season opener, a record number that was matched a week later against Oklahoma State.

Chunk Plays: Arizona ranks No. 4 nationally in total offense, with 1,814 total yards and 604.7 yards per game. A big reason is the Cats have moved the chains at ease, evidenced by a nation-leading 108 first downs to date. Arizona is averaging a steady 6.5 yards per play, boosted by a high volume of 10+ yards plays. In fact, the Wildcats are tied with Oregon, which is averaging 6.9 yards per pay, for the third-most plays of 10+ yards in the nation (71 such plays).

Matt's The Man: Matt Scott, a senior a year ago who sat to utilize his redshirt season, enters his fifth season at Arizona as the undisputed starting quarterback. A native of Corona, Calif., Scott has played in 25 games and made eight starts for the Wildcats over the years (7-1 record). As a true freshman backup to Willie Tuitama in 2008, Scott saw action in six games. The following year he battled current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and won the starting job out of camp. Scott started the first three games of that `09 season, winning two of three contests. Foles earned the start in the fourth game and never relinquished the starting role, though Scott saw action in nine of the games. Scott was the backup again in 2010, but a knee injury sidelined Foles for the better part of three games, and Scott was nearly flawless in his place. Scott came off the bench to guide the Cats to a 24-7 win at Washington State, then engineered 500-plus yard offensive outputs in victorious starts against Washington (44-14) and on the road at UCLA (29-21). 

Don't Forget the Defense: The offense numbers stand out, but the Arizona defense deserves some credit, too. Defensive coordinate Jeff Casteel and his staff implemented a 3-3-5 scheme when they were hired, one that produced its first shutout last week against South Carolina State (first shutout in 52 games dating to 2008 season opener vs. Idaho, 70-0). After three games, there's some serious improvement on the defensive side of the ball from a year ago. The Wildcats are holding opponents to 18.3 points per game (35.4 in 2011), 382.7 yards per game (460.5 in 2011) and 4.8 yards per play (school record high 6.58 in 2011). Arizona has also forced six turnovers through three games after gaining just 16 all of last season. In fact, a year ago UA did not collect its sixth turnover until the seventh game of the season.

Seeing Red: If Arizona wants to upset a ranked team for the second time in three weeks, it will need to improve its redzone scoring efficiency. The Wildcats, who were 8-for-8 in the redzone in the 59-38 win over then-No. 18 Oklahoma State, have missed out on five trips so far in 2012 (16-for-21, 76 percent). The more alarming stat, however, is the UA has scored touchdowns just 57-percent (12-21) of the time in the redzone. The Wildcats will surely need to score TDs at a higher efficiency rate against the Ducks, who have scored touchdowns on 17 of their 20 (85-percent) redzone trips in 2012.

Ground Game: The Cats have hit the ground running in the first year of Rich Rodriguez's offense, gaining 741 yards on 146 carries (5.1 ypc) in three games. That's 247 yards per game, good enough for the No. 19 spot in the national rankings and a dramatic increase from the 94.5 yards per game a season ago that finished No. 114. The Cats are benefitting from the run threat that QB Matt Scott offers. The senior signal caller is second on the team and eighth in the Pac-12 with 190 rushing yards to date - a tally that is ninth-most for quarterbacks in the FBS ranks. Sophomore running back Ka'Deem Carey has been an explosive force, with 344 yards and five scores on the ground. He holds the No. 2 spot in the Pac-12 and No. 21 position nationally with 114.7 rushing yards per game.

September Starts: The opening month often times sets the tone for the rest of the season, and that has held true for the Cats in recent years. The 2011 campaign began with a 1-3 month of September en route to a 4-8 final record. In the three prior seasons, UA posted a combined 10-2 record en route to three consecutive bowl berths. This year, UA (3-0 in Sept.) tries to benefit from four home games out of five total contests in the opening month. Rich Rodriguez boasts an impressive 34-7 (.829) record in the month of September in his 11 seasons as a head coach of FBS programs at West Virginia, Michigan and now Arizona. His teams have gone to bowl games in seven of those years, including two BCS berths.

Carey the Load: Sophomore running back Ka'Deem Carey has made the most of his first two career starts, tying for third nationally with five touchdowns scored through two games. The local product from Canyon del Oro High School, ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 with 114 yards per game, has rushed for 344 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 47yards and another touchdown in the passing game. In the season-opener, Carey broke off a career-long 73-yard burst for a touchdown en route to his first career 100-yard game (147 yards) against Toledo. He followed it up a week later against Oklahoma State with another 100-yard effort (126 yards), including 99 yards and an average of 8.3 yards per attempt in the second half alone. Carey scored four times against the Cowboys (one receiving, three rushing), setting career highs for rushing touchdowns and most total touchdowns in a game. The four scores gave him 24 points in the game, good enough to tie for third individually in school single game history. Keola Antolin (2008 at Oregon), Ronald Veal (1988, Washington State), Richard Hersey (1980, Pacific), Harry Holt (1977, UTEP) and Don Beasley (1953, Arizona State) have also had 24-point games.

Big Play Guy: Matt Scott has found his big-play target: Austin Hill. The 6-foot-3 sophomore is UA's most versatile receiver, a guy with a mix of size, speed and route-running skills to give defenders fits whether he lines up in the slot or outside. He has turned in a pair of 100-yard receiving games to open up the season, ripping the Rockets for 139 yards and a score before cutting up the Cowboys for 125 more yards. Most impressive is that Hill's 17 catches for 319 yards average out to a whopping 18.8 yards per reception, and 13 have resulted in a first down or touchdown. Hill is currently second behind USC All-American Marqise Lee for the Pac-12 lead in receiving yards per game (106.3).

Pass To Buck: Arizona's most frequent receiving target through two games has been senior Dan Buckner, who leads the squad with 22 total receptions. The 6-foot-4 outside receiver is averaging 87.0 yards per game and a steady 11.9 yards per catch. The senior scored his first touchdown of the season against S.C. State, a 27-yarder. Buckner finished his junior season fourth on the team with 42 receptions for 606 yards and two touchdowns.

Mr. Versatility: Senior Taimi Tutogi has proven to be UA's most versatile player, doubling as an offensive and defensive player. Tutogi, who has started each game to date, will line up at several offensive positions, including fullback, tight end and even running back. Thus far, Tutogi has just one carry and four receptions, but his role as a blocker in the run game and in pass protection is often overlooked. He scored his first touchdown of 2012 against S.C. State on a 14-yard grab over the middle. This year, he's also developed into UA's third-down pass-rush specialist on defense. He's still seeking his first sack, but coaches like his strength and burst off the edge on passing downs.

Swarming Secondary: The Wildcats starting secondary has developed a ball-hawking reputation early the season. The quintet has combined four 11 pass breakups, led by junior corner Shaquille Richard's five PBUs. Safety Jared Tevis and corner Jonathan McKnight each have two interceptions apiece, including a 48-yard score by the latter in the 59-38 victory over Oklahoma State. Together, the group has held opponents to a lowly 5.5 yards per pass attempt, a rate that ranks No. 20 in all of FBS. The Cats also rank No. 24 with a 105.38 pass efficiency defense figure. The stats could be even better with an improved pass rush; UA ranks No. 99 by averaging just one sack per game.

Tackling Machine: Junior linebacker Jake Fischer, who sat out the 2011 season recovering from an ACL injury, has made a seamless transition to middle linebacker in the new 3-3-5 scheme implemented by defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. Fischer is the clear leader on the defensive side of the ball, and he's turned in stellar performances in each of the first two games. The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week following a career-high 13-tackle effort in the season opener, the local Ironwood Ridge High School product topped his own mark with 14 more stops against Oklahoma State. Now his 33 total tackles lead all Pac-12 players and are tied for No. 12 nationall. He's also shown a nose for the ball, forcing a pair of fumbles and recovering one to go with 3.5 tackles for loss.

Immediate Impact: Arizona's "bandit" in the secondary is former walk-on Jared Tevis, who essentially earned a starting spot and a scholarship with a sensational spring. He has made an immediate impact on the field in his first two games, ranking second on the team and second in the Pac-12 with 21 tackles. Against Oklahoma State, Tevis collected his first two interceptions, including one before halftime and another in the fourth quarter to help seal the game. A local product from Canyon del Oro High School, Tevis is third in the Pac-12 with five passes defended (two INT, three PBU), and he has forced one fumble.

In The Trenches: Arizona has used the same starting offensive line in each of the first two games (LT Mickey Baucus, LG Chris Putton, C Kyle Quinn, RG Trace Biskin and RT Fabbiens Ebbele). The big fellas started combined for 55 starts a season ago, led by Quinn, Ebbele and Baucus who each started all 12 games. Backup guard/tackle Shane Zink also had three starts last year. Now the Wildcats have a total of 74 career starts among their offensive linemen. It's a group line coach Robert Anae feels good about, especially with younger players like Lene Maiava and Cayman Bundage who have significant playing time. Anae is in his second season at Arizona, after Rich Rodriguez re-hired the veteran coach from the previous staff.

Graduates: Kudos to offensive linemen Kyle Quinn and Trace Biskin, who each earned their degrees from The University of Arizona last spring. The two completed their undergraduate work in four years, and both begin their final season in the program as fifth-year seniors. Quinn, a 13-game starter at center in his career, graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and is now enrolled in graduate school, exploring a master's degree in educational leadership. Biskin, a 10-game starter at right guard, graduated with a degree in political science and is now enrolled in UA's graduate program, studying international security.

Fresh Faces: Arizona has played nine true freshmen in 2012, a tally that is among the top-20 nationally and tied for third in the Pac-12 with UCLA. Among the Wildcats' true freshmen are defenders Jamar Allah, William Parks, Anthony Lopez, Keoni Bush-Loo, Dakota Conwell, Wayne Capers Jr., Vince Miles and C.J. Dozier. Offensively, lineman Cayman Bundage has seen playing time at guard. Colorado (13) and USC (10) are the leaders in the category in the Pac-12.

300-Yard Passing Games: With another 366 passing yards against S.C. State, the Wildcats have now passed for 300 or more yards in 12 consecutive games and in 14 of their last 15 games dating back to the start of the 2011 season. The only game the last two years in which UA has not reached 300 bones through the air was against Stanford on Sept. 17, 2011. The Cats collected just 282 yards that evening at Arizona Stadium.

Home Cookin': Arizona hosts eight home games at Arizona Stadium in 2012, which is undergoing one of its most significant refurbishment phases in its 84-year history. The Wildcats have not hosted eight home games in a season since 1988, when the squad won five home contests in a 7-4 campaign. Arizona is 24-11 at home since the start of 2007.

Building for the Future: The Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, scheduled to open in August 2013, marks a dynamic shift in the Arizona football culture as it will become the centerpiece of the program on the north end of Arizona Stadium. Supported by private funds, including significant leadership gifts from David and Edith Lowell and from Jeff and Sharon Stevens, the $72.3 million project will provide the Wildcats with one of the premier football facilities in the nation. The facility will be a four-floor operations center with strength training, sports-medicine, coaches offices, locker rooms, meeting rooms, equipment and facility service areas. The structure will enclose the north end of the stadium and create a full bowl with nearly 4,000 premium spectator seats, including a donor lounge with outdoor seating. Additionally, stairways and elevator towers for the concourse will connect the structure to the existing east and west stadium sections. Restrooms, amenity areas and a cafeteria will also serve the campus community. Arizona Stadium has an official capacity of 51,811 for this season, but once work is completed on the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, the venue will near the some 57,000 seats it has held in recent years.

Up Next: Arizona will return home to close out its September slate against Oregon State on Saturday, Sept. 29. The game will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. (MST) at Arizona Stadium.

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