Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
2007-10-01 Football Notes at OSU
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 01, 2007
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Arizona Football Game Notes as a .pdf

Opponent: Oregon State
1 p.m.
Site: Corvallis, Ore. - Reser Stadium (43,000)
Television: None
English Radio: 1290 AM The Source (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett, Pedro Limon)
Spanish Radio: 990 AM ESPN Deportes (Francisco Romero, Marco Rincon, Pedro Limon)
Please see Page 3 of the notes for Arizonaˇ?s radio affiliates.

Some Game Themes
Arizona works to keep itself in the Pac-10's upper division while Oregon State aims at a first conference victory... A battle of 2-3 teams off the radar but competing for the postseason... The Cats, fresh off a 221-yard rushing night, face the nation's No. 3-rated rushing defense led by OSU's talented defensive line... But Arizona rates No. 11 in passing offense and matches that against OSU's No. 21 total defense... The Cats, close to the top 25 in rushing defense (27th), face OSU's Yvenson Bernard (100 ypg)... OSU works to avoid its problem with turnovers, rating last in Division I-A with 21, with 15 of those at last in D-IA in interceptions... The last time in Corvallis (2005), Arizona won largely on the strength of six picks and then-freshman Willie Tuitama's first big day under center... Arizona opens a two-game road swing and conclude the half-way point in a busy year that won't seen an idle week until Nov. 10... Growth and improvement in a program is sometimes modest and Arizona sees if it can handle the prosperity of its best start in Pac-10 play since 2000, after opening 0-3, 0-3, 0-5, 0-5, 0-6 and 0-5 the last six seasons.

Last Week
Arizona proved that the spread offense is not necessarily pass-presumptive and rushed over Washington State, 48-20, behind a balanced attack that was evident from the onset. UA had to settle for a field goal on the opening drive, but the 12-play, 69-yard march took five minutes off the clock and featured freshman running back Nicolas Grigsby's downhill running. WSU took a 7-3 lead with an answering drive, but the Cats went 84 yards with more Grigsby, including one of his nine pass receptions for a culminating 22-yard TD. An interception by sophomore corner Devin Ross set up a third consecutive scoring drive, then a solid stop by UA's defense set up a field-goal by Jason Bondzio to make it 20-7 after UA's first four possessions. To its credit, the Cougars scored again before the half on the strength of Alex Brink's passing, then took the opening drive of the second half for 80 bones to tie the game at 20-all. The rest of the story was Arizona, on both sides of the ball. The Cats allowed the Cougs to reach only their 38 yard-line twice on their next six possessions -- turning those back to the UA offense on downs -- and picked off a second pass (Nate Ness) and forcing three punts. Meantime, Grigsby added on markers on an eventual 30 rushes for 6.2 yards per pop and 186 total, plus Willie Tuitama put the air in the spread by building a nifty 217.9 pass efficiency rating on five touchdown passes including two scores by Mike Thomas and two by freshman tight end Rob Gronkowski. The latter had a 57-yarder for six that featured a run-over move against the safety -- one of seven plays for 20 yards or more on the Cats' ledger. UA played pay dirt, cashing in on all five red-zone chances, punted only one time for the first time in 16 years, and averaged 7.5 yards per play. Tuitama hit the magic double-digit threshold, averaging 11.2 yards per attempt in completing 22 of 31 for 346 yards. Gronk had 115 receiving yards on his four grabs and Grigsby had 76 to give him an all-purpose total of 262 yards, not far from the UA single-game top 10. Jason Bondzio hit two field goals and barely missed wide left from what would have been a school-record 59 yarder. The Cats' 567 yards in total offense tied for No. 10 in school history.

Notes from Washington State
The Wildcats snapped a three-game home losing streak to the Cougars with the win ... Mike Stoops defeated a Pac-10 opponent a second time for the first time in his career ... The Wildcats defeated an opponent in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2004-05 (NAU) and a Pac-10 opponent in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2003-04 (Washington) ... Arizona scored on five of its first six possessions of the game with the lone blank coming on a missed 59-yard field goal attempt to end the first half ... The Wildcats converted a season-high 75% of their third-down tries (8 for 12) ... Washington State did not convert a third or fourth down try in the fourth quarter (0 for 7 combined) ... Arizona attempted a season-high 45 rushes in the game and ended the contest with positive yards or no-gain on the first 44 of them. The lone rush for a loss in the contest came on a team attempt to run out the clock on the final play of the game ... Nic Grigsbyˇ?s 262 all-purpose yards (186 rush, 76 rec.) were the most for an individual player at Arizona since Bobby Wade posted 264 all-purpose yards at Cal in 2002 (222 rec., 7 KOR, 34 PR) ... Grigsbyˇ?s 186 yards rushing for the Wildcats was easily a season-high and were the most for a UA back since Chris Henry rumbled for 196 yards at Oregon last season ... Willie Tuitama tied his career-high of five TD passes (set earlier this season vs. NAU) ... Tuitama also rushed for a score to help account for all six of UAˇ?s TDs in the game (one off of the school record of seven held by Keith Smith - five pass, two rush - in a three-overtime game against Cal in 1996) ... Mike Thomas tied his career-high with a pair of TD catches (set vs. New Mexico earlier this year) and surpassed his season-best total from 2005 (five) with his sixth scoring reception of the year ... Tuitama and Terrell Turner hooked for a 65-yard throw and catch to the WSU 1-yard-line, UAˇ?s longest play from scrimmage thus far ... True frosh Rob Gronkowski recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game, hauling in four passes for a team-best 115 yards and two scores ... DBs Devin Ross and Nate Ness each picked off their first career pass in the win ... Arizonaˇ?s two picks in the game represent a season-high ... The seven PBUs in the game were two shy of the season-high of nine against NAU.

Total 'O'
Arizona's 567 yards of total offense against Washington State last Saturday marked not only the most for a single game under head coach Mike Stoops, but it also registered on the all-time list in school history. The 567 yards ties the 1975 squad's effort against Utah for No. 10 on the single-game list and is the fifth-most against a Pacific-10 Conference team in school history
Top Single-Game Total Offense Totals

?Yards ?Opponent, Year (Total Plays)
?691 ?New Mexico, 1969 (91)
?610 ?Pacific, 1982 (78)
?607 ?Arizona State, 1998 (72)
?606 ?South Dakota State, 1956 (76)
?599 ?at UTEP, 1952 (45)
?595 ?at California, 1996 (82) OT Game
?588 ?at UCLA, 1999 (80)
?574 ?Stanford, 2001 (74)
? ?at UTEP, 1973 (73)
?567 ?Utah, 1975 (94)
? ?Washington State, 2007 (76)

Oregon State and Arizona Fast Facts
First Meeting
: 1966 (Oregon State 31 - Arizona 12 in Portland, Ore.)
Last Meeting: 2006 (Oregon State 17 - Arizona 10)
All-Time Series Record: UA leads 20-9-1
Arizona vs. Oregon State All-Time: The 31st all-time meeting between the two schools ... UA owns a 20-9-1 edge in the 30 games played thus far, but OSU has won seven of the last eight meetings ... The Cats snapped a series-high six-game losing streak to the Beavers in their last trip to Corvallis, pulling off a 29-27 win ... Arizona is 8-5-1 all-time against OSU in Corvallis and is 1-1 against the Beavers in Portland.

Arizona-Oregon State - The Last Time Out
The Wildcats dropped a seven-point game to the eventual 10-game winners from Corvallis last year ... Trailing 14-0, UA missed out on a key opportunity late in the second quarter when the had first-and-goal at the OSU 4-yard-line and failed to come away with any points. The failure to punch the ball in loomed large as the Cats held OSU to just three points in the second half while scoring 10 points of their own in the loss ... QB Willie Tuitama missed the entire contest due to injury. WR Anthony Johnson started the game at QB for the Cats but served as the signal caller for just three snaps before yielding to Kris Heavner ... Arizona was out-gained in the contest 332-183 yards in total offense and could not offensively cash in after the defense recorded a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovered ... OSU running back Yvenson Bernard rushed for 107 yards on 26 attempts and WR Sammie Stroughter caught five passes for 91 yards and a TD in the win ... Arizonaˇ?s lone TD in the contest came on a 67-yard Syndric Steptoe punt return in the third quarter

Noting the Beavers
The Beavers head to Tucson with a 2-3 overall record and an 0-2 mark in the Pac-10 ... OSU most recently dropped a 40-14 decision to UCLA in Corvallis last weekend ... Offensively the Beavers are averaging 26.8 points (9th Pac-10), 148.8 yards rushing (7th) and 261 yards passing (5th) per game ... OSUˇ?s 409.8 yards of total offense average is eight in the Pac-10 ... Defensively the Beavers boast one of the top rushing defensive teams in the nation. Allowing a paltry 50.2 yards per game on the ground this season, OSUˇ?s rush defense is third nationally and the top unit in the Pac-10 thus far ... The pass defense is allowing 251.6 yards per game (4th in the Pac-10) and the Beavers are surrendering 27.0 points per game (7th) ... Individually RB Yvenson Bernard is fifth in the Pac-10 and 37th nationally with a 100.4 ypg average on the ground ... Slade Norris enters the game second in the conference and tied for 18th nationally in sacks per game ... Head coach Mike Riley is in his seventh season in Corvallis and has a 40-37 record with the Beavers.

See You in September
1-1 in Pac-10 play is a good thing for Arizona. It's opened the year in league play a combined 0-27 the last six years, although only three of those losses were in September (two games last year and one in 2001). The nine-game round-robin schedule makes for some September conference games now.

Moving the Chains
The Wildcats have recorded 116 total first downs in the first five games this season (36 rush, 66 pass, 14 penalty), which is already two-thirds of the way towards matching last seasonˇ?s total of 173. Should the Cats continue to move the chains at the current pace (23.2 first downs per game) they would finish the 12-game regular season with 278. Both the current average and the projected sum total for the year would take over the top spots in school history (22.4 and 246 in 1975). Individually this season, true frosh Nic Grigsby took over the top spot when he accounted for 16 of Arizonaˇ?s 28 first downs against WSU last Saturday (12 rush, 4 rec.). Grigsby leads all rushers with 20 first downs on the ground, while Mike Thomas paces the way with 17 receiving first downs.

Posting Points
Arizona has scored at least a field goal in nine straight quarters dating back to the New Mexico game on Sept. 15 for a grand total of 89 points. The last time the Wildcats scored at least one point in nine straight frames came in 1998 when the Wildcats closed out the regular season scoring in 14 consecutive quarters and the first two of the Holiday Bowl against Nebraska for 16 quarters with at least one point ... The Wildcats have scored 154 points in five games thus far, which is already over three-fourths of the way to the 12-game total of 199 last year ... The Wildcats didn't score their 154th point of the year in 2006 until the first quarter of the 11th game (at Oregon 11/18) ... The Wildcats had scored 60 total points through the first five games of the 2006 season ... UA's 52 fourth quarter points this season is already well past last year's 12-game total of 40.

Offensive Improvements
The spread offense has improved Arizonaˇ?s numbers nearly across the board through the first five games. A look at this year vs. last year through five games.

?Stat ?2006 ?2007 ?Difference
?Points ?60 ?154 +94?
?Points per game ?12.0? ?30.8 +18.8
?First Downs ?73 ?116 +43
?Rushing Offense ?68.4 ?101.4 +33.0
?Passing Offense ?185.0 ?323.8 +138.8?
?Total Offense ?253.4 ?425.2 +171.8

Nic the Quick
True frosh Nic Grigsby etched his name into the lore of Arizona history with 186 rushing yards on 30 carries (6.2 ypc) against Washington State last weekend. The ground-pounding total equaled the true freshman rushing mark posted by former UA great Hubie Oliver in 1977. Oliver, who broke on to the scene when he rushed for 141 yards on 21 against New Mexico, followed up with 186 yards on 29 carries (6.4 ypc) a week later against UTEP.
Top True Freshman Rushing Performances at Arizona
?Hubie Oliver ?UTEP, 1977 29-186, TD
?Nic Grigsby ?Washington State, 2007 30-186 (Rec. TD)
?Vance Johnson ?Fresno State, 1981 24-183
?Ontiwaun Carter ?Oregon State, 1991 15-160, 3 TD
?Clarence Farmer ?ar USC, 2000 22-134, TD

When Will Willie?

It appears evident the new offensive style will take junior quarterback Willie Tuitama to the top of some Arizona charts. When? Stay tuned.
--He's No. 8 in career passing yards (4,040)
--Has the No. 2 single-game passing yards total with 446 (vs UNM)
--Is within 214 yards of No. 10 in single-season passing yards (has 1600)
--Is No. 10 in single-season pass completions (143)
--Is within 36 attempts of No. 10 in season passing attempts (has 225)
--Has the single-game pass attempts (61) and completions (42) records (vs. Cal)
--Is No. 9 in career passing attempts (578)
--Is No. 7 in single-season TD passes (15)
--Is No. 7 in career touchdown passes with 31;
And... he currently sits on the second-best season completion percentage (.636) and No. 4 pass efficiency rating (141.73).

Willie T Notes
Tuitama's 42 completions and 61 attempts at California were three and nine, respectively, from the all-time NCAA Top 20 for those categories. Just for the record, the record for those marks is 55 completions (Rusty LaRue, Wake Forest vs. Duke, 1995) and 83 attempts (Drew Brees, Purdue vs. Wisconsin, 1998). Maybe he'll get there. A pair of guys Sonny Dykes worked with while coaching receivers at Texas Tech -- Kliff Kingsbury (70 throws vs. Missouri in '02) and B.J. Symons (45 completions vs. Iowa State in '03) -- fill the spots at the bottom of those charts...

Gaining Ground in Large Chunks
Through the first five games of the season the Wildcats have racked up 44 plays of 20 yards or more (8.8 per game) and have scored on 10 of those plays. Arizona has amassed 26 passes, 12 kickoff returns, two rushes and a fumble and interception return of 20 or more yards. In 12 games last year UA finished with 55 total plays of 20 or more yards and scored on only seven of them. Individual leaders for this season are Mike Thomas (12 total, 2 rush, 7 pass, 3 KR, 3 TD), Devin Ross (10 total, 9 KR, 1 INT), Terrell Turner (6 total, 6 pass, 2 TD) and Rob Gronkowski (4 total, 4 pass, 2 TD). Thomas is the current career leader with 34 plays of over 20 yards in his two-plus seasons at UA
Thomas' Big Plays (20+ yard)

?Year Total Pass? Rush? KR? TD?
?2005 ?13 ?13 ?0 ?0 ?3
?2006 ?9 ?6 ?2 ?1 ?1
?2007 ?12 ?7 ?2 ?3 ?3
?Totals ?34 ?26 ?4 ?4 ?7

Offense Benches Crier

Redshirt freshman Keenyn Crier was forced into action just once in Arizona's 48-20 win over Washington State last Saturday. The one-punt game was the first for a Wildcat club since Dick Tomey's 1991 squad had to kick the ball away just a single time in a 45-21 win over Oregon State on November 2. For the record, Crier boomed a 55-yarder on his one attempt against the Cougars, pinning them inside the 20 at their own 15 yard-line, to help him push his Pac-10 leading average to 43.3 yards per punt. The school record for fewest punts in a contest is a big fat zero, accomplished twice with the last coming against Pacific in 1989.

Rumbling Rob
True frosh TE Rob Gronkowski provided one of the top highlights in Arizona's 47-20 win over Washington State last weekend, the first-year starter caught a pass from QB Willie Tuitama, turned up-field and rumbled 57 yards for a TD, knocking over would-be tacklers from the 30-yard-line on-in in the process. The reception was the longest in his short but very promising UA career and his third career score. Although he has only played just five games, Gronkowski is already statistically placing himself among the top TEs in school history. A look at what Gronk has done through five games against the career totals of some of the best TEs UA has had to offer over the years.

Player Years ?Receptions Yards? TDs?
Ron Beyer ?75-78 ?53 ?811 ?7
Mark Keel ?81-82 ?59 ?856 ?6
Gary Parrish ?84-85 ?28 ?366 ?1
Richard Griffith ?89-92 ?35 ?358 ?2
Mike Metzler ?94-96 ?34 ?497 ?6
Mike Lucky ?95-98 ?43 ?563 ?4
Brandon Manumaleuna ?97-00 ?40 ?544 ?3
Steve Fleming ?01-04 ?50 ?584 ?4
Brad Wood ?03-06 ?41 ?413 ?7
Rob Gronkowski ?07- ?9 ?210 ?3
Gronkowski's 12-game projected season totals - 22 rec., 504 yards, 7 TDs

Positioning for All-Purpose Pride
Running back Nic Grigsby's big night against WSU, with 262 yards on 186 rushing and 76 receiving gave him the team per-game lead at 127.3, ahead of receiver Mike Thomas' 119.6 rate. Mike has an occasional KOR to add to his pass catching and end-around mix while Nic's comes from running and catching only. Sophomore kick returner Devin Ross had a 24-yard interception return to push him to 85 yards per game, soph receiver Terrell Turner had the Cats' longest 2007 play from scrimmage (65 yards) against WSU to give him 65.4 ypg average for the season. Any of those guys are capable of posting numbers to stay on top or move up the list... Freshman tight end Rob Gronkowski leads all Wildcats with 23.3 yards per play on his nine pass receptions.

Arizona's three running backs have learned that "shake and bake" is stuff for the oven. On 112 carries they've been nabbed behind the lines for only nine yards in losses while gaining a combined 504 yards at a 4.5 yards per tote clip. That's positive territory for an offense that takes what's there.

Two Legs Up
Arizona's new kickers -- punter Keenyn Crier and kicker Jason Bondzio -- have some pop and combine to replace all-purpose booter Nick Folk (Dallas Cowboys) in solid fashion. Bondzio's range, thought to be high 30s before the year, extends wherever. His field goal kicking has been solid (7 for 10) and he's been outstanding on kickoffs with 13 touchbacks for a boatload of 70-yard kicks among 31 total kickoffs. His improvement gave Mike Stoops and special teams coordinator Joe Robinson the confidence to give him a shot at what would have been a school record 59-yard field goal against WSU. It had the length but was wide left. Meantime, punter Keenyn Crier had a night off with only one boot -- for 55 yards and a fair catch inside the 20 yard-line. He's averaging 43.3 yards per punt with a career-best 67-yarder against New Mexico.

Arizona's 7.5 yards per play against WSU was the most in that category since hitting a 7.7 rate in a 67-play, 519 total yards effort against UCLA in 2005. That game, too, was fueled by successful rushing as UA's Mike Bell (16-153) and Gilbert Harris (16-113) helped the team amass 315 rushing yards in the 52-14 victory. That point outburst against the Bruins is the most by a Mike Stoops' team at UA, followed by the 48 markers the Cats posted against WSU this year.

Los Tres Hombres
The three man pass-catching collection of Mike Thomas, Terrell Turner and Anthony Johnson has become favored targets in the Arizona offense. In UAˇ?s last four games, Money Mike, T.T. and A.J. have teamed up for 68 catches, 874 yards and nine touchdowns. During the four-game stretch they collectively are averaging 17 receptions, 218.5 yards and 2.25 TDs per contest. T.T. and Money Mike have at least one catch in all five games thus far, while A.J. has chipped in with a reception in four of five games. Against New Mexico on Sept. 15 their three separate 100-yards receiving effort marked the first time in UA history that a trio of players had eclipsed the century mark in the same game.

Money Mike Notes
Junior WR ˇ®Moneyˇ? Mike Thomas is quickly making his way up both the single season and career receiving charts (see left) ... Pac-10 leader in receptions per game (7.0) and is third in the conference in receiving yards per game (79.8) ... Is seventh in the Pac-10 in all-purpose yards (119.6) and checks in at 10th in scoring (7.2) ... Has caught six TD passes this season to surpass his previous career high of five set in 2005 ... Needs just 18 more receptions and 373 yards this year to pass his single-season highs of 52 catches and 771 yards set in 2005 ... He recorded back-to-back 100-yard receiving games against New Mexico and Cal earlier this season. His next 100-yard game will be a single-season high for his career ... He has caught at least one TD in each of the last four games ... Has twice set a single-game high with two TD grabs (NAU and WSU) ... Has at least one reception in each of the last 17 games played ... Has caught at least one pass in 37 of 38 career games, with the one no-catch game coming against Arizona State in 2005 when he had a full cast on his left hand served the entire game as a decoy ... If he stays on his current pace of seven receptions, 79.8 yards and 1.2 TDs per game, heˇ?ll wrap up the 12-game regular season with 84 catches for 958 yards and 14 scores.

A Case for Cason
Senior cornerback Antoine Cason continues to show why he's been rated among the top defenders at his position nationally. He has 11 career interceptions, one shy of the UA career Top 10 chart, and is within three PBUs of the UA's career chart with 21 passes destroyed. His ability to cover helped keep superstar DeSean Jackson of Cal to a modest three catches for 39 yards and no whiff of the end zone a few weeks ago. Cason has a sack, a pick, a forced fumble and three PBUs in his senior year.

Reed Behind the Lines
Redshirt freshmen defensive ends D'Aundre Reed and Brooks Reed saw their first action (together) as bookends on scrimmage play against Washington State in the fourth quarter and combined for the final defensive stop of the game, sacking backup Cougar QB Gary Rogers for a loss of nine yards on 3rd-and-7 with about three minutes to go. It was the first career tackle for both. Each had seen action only once previously... The tackle for loss was one of three sacks and one of seven TFL for UA in the contest.


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