Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Football Game Day, Cats Host Ducks
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 22, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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The Game

No. 15 Oregon (6-1, 3-1) at Arizona (1-5, 0-3), 4:07 p.m. (MST) Saturday, Oct. 22, 56,000-seat Arizona Stadium. Radio: Host Communications/KCUB 1290 AM, KHYT 107.5 FM, KQTL 1210 AM (Spanish).

A delayed, on-demand video webcast will be available online through beginning at 10 p.m. (MST) Saturday for subscribers to All-Access, Arizona's premium online multimedia service. Subscribers can also listen to live audio of the radio broadcast. The cost for All-Access is $6/month for audio only, and $9/month for audio and video. Free live statistics of the game are also available.

Note: The delayed webcast will not be available immediately following the game due to Pac-10 broadcast restrictions.


Some Game Themes

Arizona tries to get some momentum against its fourth ranked opponent in five games... UA quarterback Richard Kovalcheck faces the team against which he debuted in '04, in a relief appearance that gave him the role for all but one play the rest of the season... The Wildcats work on phase one of a two-week quest to solve a six-year mystery -- how to beat a team from the state of Oregon. The Ducks and Beavers have won 12 games against Arizona since 1999, the longest active streaks among league teams... Which UA pass protection unit will play -- the one that gave up one sack to defending national champion USC or the one that Stanford notched five sacks against? ...UA's defense faces the first of three consecutive October opponents who average 448 yards and 37 points...  A match of the No. 2 pass yardage defense in the league (UA) against the No. 1 pass completions guy in UO's Kellen Clemens (25 per game)...


Athletic Academic Chapions

At half time of the Oregon-Arizona game, the athletics department will honor 163 student-athletes -- 34 percent of the Wildcats in all sports -- for their scholastic prowess. These students achieved a grade point average of 3.0 or better in the most recently completed school year, 2003-04. In addition, 10 student-athletes will be recognized for earning perfect 4.0 grade averages. They are: Steve Fleming, football; Stevie Fanning, gymnastics; Candace Abrams, softball; Zach Ferguson, swimming & diving; Carl Hagman, tennis; Debbie Larocque, tennis; Christopher Ogle, track & field; Aaron Powell, track & field; Megan Cassidy, track & field; and Michi Hirakawa-wong, track & field.


Last Week

Statistics don't lie, but the paperwork was deceiving after Arizona's 20-16 loss to Stanford before a Family Weekend crowd of 54,216 in Arizona Stadium. The Cats ran a season-high 79 plays, had the ball for nearly 10 minutes more than the Cardinal, held SU to an opponent two year-low of 195 yards in total offense, restricted the Cardinal to one of 12 third-down conversions and used field-position weapon Danny Baugher to record a 47.0 net punting average. The telling statistic: five Arizona turnovers. Three of them led to three scores (13 points). The Cats took the opening kickoff and methodically marched down the field with a season-best 15-play drive that covered 80 yards and took a season-high 6:25 off the clock. It was not exactly a harbinger of things to come. On the next UA possession a holding penalty and the first of five SU sacks resulted in a three-and-out for negative yardage. On the next two Arizona possessions fumbles killed forays into Stanford territory, the first on another sack of Richard Kovalcheck (led to a field goal by the Cardinal) and the other after a completed pass earned an apparent first down at the Stanford 24 yard-line. Kovalcheck was intercepted to thwart a third consecutive possession a few minutes later and this one led to an SU touchdown to give it a lead it never relinquished. In the second half, Stanford gained 41 percent of its total offense in the game with a 10-play, 80-yard drive to make it 17-7. UA took advantage of Baugher's punting, a decent punt return by Syndric Steptoe and a 21-yard throw to Steptoe to put together a short-field drive for a score to cut into the lead, but another sack-fumble gave SU the ball at the UA 23 for a field-goal possession. In the fourth quarter the Cardinal defense stiffened with the lead (19 total UA yards in the period) and eventually voluntarily took a safety with 17 seconds left. UA was called for a personal foul on the play to thwart any chance at a shorter field and a decent desperation deep throw on the final three plays.


Quick Hits From Stanford

- Arizona’s opening drive of the game was the longest scoring drive this season in terms of plays (15) and time of possession (6:25).

- The contest marked just the second game this season that Arizona rushed and passed for more yard then its opposition (NAU).

- WR Syndric Steptoe caught four passes in the game to extend his consecutive games with at least one reception to 13 straight.

- WR Mike Thomas caught a career-best eight passes in the contest.

- RB Gilbert Harris rushed for a season-high 56 yards.

- P Danny Baugher recorded his sixth game this season with at least one punt over 50 yards.

- K Nick Folk’s three kickoffs were all touch backs, making the Stanford game the third this season that an opponent was denied an opportunity to return a kickoff.

- Gilbert Harris’ TD in the first quarter was the first rushing TD for Arizona since Sept. 10 against NAU.

- The contest against Stanford marked the first this season that UA did not have a passing TD (save the shut out loss at Cal).


The Cats and The Ducks ?- The All-Time Series

The Ducks and Cats meet up for the 31st time ... Oregon holds an 18-12 advantage in the all-time series and has won the last six straight and 10 of the last 11 ... The six straight victories is the longest winning streak for either team in the series  ... The series is tied 8-8 when the games are played in Arizona Stadium ... This season marks Oregon’s sixth trip to the Old Pueblo in the last eight years


Arizona and Oregon ?- The Last Time Out

Oregon rolled up 492 yards of total offense and jumped out to a 28-0 lead in a two-TD victory over the Wildcats at Autzen Stadium last year ... Returning QB Kellen Clemens finished the game 21 for 30 for 336 yards and a TD, while RB Terrence Whitehead rushed for 74 yards and three scores for the Ducks ... Arizona QB Richard Kovalcheck made his first career appearance in relief of Kris Heavner and engineered a pair of late TD drives, including a 21-yard TD pass to Brad Wood for Wood’s first career  reception


Noting the Ducks

No. 15 Oregon rolls in to Tucson with a 5-1 overall record and a 3-1 mark in league play ... This will be the Ducks’ second trip to the desert southwest this moth after traveling to and defeating Arizona State in Tempe on Oct. 1 ... The Ducks boast the fifth-best passing offense in the nation, averaging 340.1 yards through the air this season ... Combined, Oregon’s offense rates as the 13-best nationally in total offense with an average of 487.3 yards per game and is 18th-best in scoring with an average of 36.4 points per game ... QB Kellen Clemens ranks 15th nationally with a passing efficiency rating of 153.06 ... Receiver Demetrius Williams is eighth in the NCAA with a 110.3 receiving yards per game average ... On the other side of the ball, the Ducks are 47th in total defense (352.4 ypg) and 53rd in scoring defense (25.0 ppg).


Defense Bounces Back

A week removed from giving up the most yards in a single game in school history (724 at USC), the Arizona defense bounced back with a fine effort against Stanford. The UA defense teamed up to limit the Cardinal to a Mike Stoops Era-low 195 yards of total offense (previous best was 262 vs Wisconsin 9/18/2004).

      The much-maligned rush defense held the Cardinal to 58 yards on the ground, the second-lowest total in the Stoops Era and the fewest in a game since Washington State rushed for just 28 yards on Sept. 25, 2004. It was the fourth sub-100 yards rushing surrendered under Stoops.

      The pass defense, ranked second in the Pac-10, gave up 137 yards through the air, which ties for the second-best effort this year (133 vs. NAU, 137 at Cal) and ties for the third-best under Stoops (116 vs. Wisconsin 9/18/2004).


Down Time

Stanford's 11 first downs were the opponent low in Mike Stoops' tenure, checking in under the 15 that Northern Arizona recorded against UA in games this year and last year. The Cardinal had trouble on third down, making only one of 12 tries, also an opponent low under Stoops by a wide margin, and the Cardinal's eight punts also were an opponent high in the past two seasons, and the most since Washington, TCU and UTEP kicked nine punts against UA in 2003.


10-4, Good Buddy

Not. Opponents have fumbled the ball 10 times this year, and Arizona has recovered but four of them. Last year the Cats led the country with 19 fumble recoveries in 25 opportunities. But getting the ball on the turf 35 times in 17 games is a good thing.


Losing It

A season removed from leading the nation in fumbles recovered, the Wildcats have found their affair with the takeaway much different in 2005. Heading into the Oregon game, Arizona has forced its opposition to turn over the ball just seven times (four fumbles recovered, three interceptions) and has successfully converted just one of those giveaways into points (TD off an interception at USC). Meanwhile, the offense has been quite generous to the opposition in throwing 10 interceptions and fumbling the ball away seven other times for 17 total turnovers. UA’s opponents have been successful in converting Wildcat giveaways into points, scoring nine times (six TDs, three FGs) for 51 points this season.


Hang on to the Pigskin

UA's five turnovers against Stanford were its most since it had five against Arizona State in the 2002 season finale (3 INT, 2 lost fumbles). In that contest ASU turned the ball over three times, while the Cardinal did not cough it up. Arizona had four TOs against Stanford in the previous meeting between the teams, a 16-6 SU victory in '02.



Sophomore QB Richard Kovalcheck needs about 500 passing yards to hit UA's single-season passing yards chart. He has 1304 and Bruce Hill (1974) sits at No. 10 with 1814... Hill, part of the Cats' "1-2-3" prolific backfield of that day (jersey numbers 1 for Hill, 2 for halfback Willie Hamilton and 3 for fullback Jim Upchurch) also is No. 10 with 133 completions that season. Kovalcheck has 119... RK's completion percentage of 57.2 percent would stand as the No. 7 figure in UA single-season history... Pac-10 defenses are good. Kovalcheck threw for 793 yards and seven TDs in non-conference games, then has tossed for 511 with three TDs in the three league contests. He's also been intercepted six times in Pac-10 games and unfortunately with 10 total could hit the inauspicious 'passes had intercepted' chart where five players are tied for No. 9 with 14. Still, few remember Tom "Terrific" Tunnicliffe's 56 career picks -- they instead dote on his 46 career TD throws and his get-whacked-get-up demeanor as a four-year QB from 1980-83...


Bell Moves Up

Mike Bell (2,661 career rushing yards) has quietly moved his way into the top five rushers in school history. In his final five regular season games this year he needs 436 more yards to move past Hubie Oliver and into fourth on UA’s all-time rushing yards list.

Arizona Top Five All-Time Rushers

1.         Trung Canidate (1996-99)                        3,824 yards (604 att.)

2.         Ontiwaun Carter (1991-94)                      3,501 yards (805 att.)

3.         Art Luppino (1953-56)                             3,371 yards (513 att.)

4.         Hubie Oliver (1977-80)                            3,096 yards (649 att.)

5.         Mike Bell (2002-Present)                      2,661 yards (584 att.)


Step by Step

A couple more kickoff returns and Syndric Steptoe will set the UA career standard. He has 60 for 1,235 yards in his three seasons, including a season-record 28 as a freshman. The career record is 62 by Arizona Sports Hall of Famer Theopolis "T" Bell from 1972-75. Bell also has the total KOR yardage mark with 1,538 yards. Chuck Levy had 27 KOR for 682 yards to set the season yardage mark in 1991. Steptoe's 24.7 average this year rates 39th nationally and has helped Arizona reach a No. 22 team ranking in the return game at 24.2 yards per overall return. Steptoe's pace should give him the career yardage mark and perhaps the season yardage mark, plus together with his current 36 career punt returns gives him a decent shot at the career marks of 130 total returns for 2,290 yards by Bell (68 punts, 62 kickoffs).


Tossing to Thomas

Freshman wide receiver Mike Thomas had a career-best eight catches against Stanford and pushed his team-best season totals to 31 grabs for 394 yards. That also gave him one more catch than UA's most prolific frosh receiver, Bobby Wade, who had 30 receptions for 454 yards in 1999. He also passed another former freshman (RS) in the process, Jon Horton.  UA's all-time receiver, Dennis Northcutt, played two ways as a freshman and finished with only eight grabs. Here are the top freshman pass catchers in UA annals.

Player Rec Yds TD Year
Mike Thomas 31 394 2 2005
Bobby Wade 30 454 4 1999
Jon Horton 26 484 2 1983#
Terry Vaughn 22 431 2 1990
Theo Bell 22 408 4 1972
^Vance Johnson 22 224 2 1981
Lamar Lovett 20 213 1 1991#
^Chuck Levy 19 289 3 1991#
^Darryll Lewis 16 272 1 1987#
Tim Holmes 15 245 1 1978

(^RB; #redshirt frosh)


Lassoed by Larsen

UA sophomore linebacker Spencer Larsen returned to extended action for the first time since 2002 last week. In the interim was a two-year Mormon Mission to Chile and a hiatus caused by knee and hamstring injuries this year. He started against Purdue but was thwarted by the hammy, and played in the final series at USC. Larsen responded with a team and career-high nine tackles against the Cardinal, besting his previous highs of eight hits against Oregon and six apiece against Cal and ASU as a true freshman whip linebacker in '02.


Linebacking M*A*S*H

The linebacking corps has taken a bunch of hits this year, so much so that Arizona has been able to start the same three linebackers in consecutive games just once this season. Among the backers to miss time have been projected starter Ronnie Palmer (foot injury, first action last week against Stanford), five-game starter Dane Krogstad (out indefinitely after a knee injury at USC) and potential starter Randy Sims (missed three games).  Palmer, who had not played in a regulation football game since high school, made his presence felt and shared a sack with freshman DE Johnathan Turner on one of his three tackles vs. Stanford.


Bootin Danny Baugher

Ray Guy Award nominee Danny Baugher has almost single handedly eliminated opposition punt returns all together this season. Since the second quarter of the Cal game on Oct. 1, Baugher and the UA coverage unit has 15 straight punts that have been unreturnable. The NCAA leader in punting with a 48.2 yard per kick average, Baugher and the special teams have allowed just six of his 33 kicks this season to be returned. He has placed 11 punts inside the opposition’s 20-yard line and has had a kick of 50 or more yards in all six games this year. All totaled, Baugher has 15 kicks over 50 yards in 2005 and he has punted for 1,589 yards


Record Breaking Baugher

Already the career punts leader at Arizona, Baugher has broken a pair of Pac-10 and school records in 2005 while also repeatedly upping his career-long kick. On Sept. 10 against Northern Arizona, he averaged 59.7 yards per punt, snapping the previous conference and school records for a single game. A week later, on Sept. 17, Baugher had a career day against Purdue, launching seven punts for 403 yards including a career-long kick of 76 yards and other punts of 68, 63, 61 and 51 yards. The effort against the Boilermakers ended up producing a 57.6 team average, the highest team single game mark in Pac-10 and school history (min. 5 kicks).


Baugher Bits

Probably the national announcers should learn how to pronounce the name. Or maybe Danny should re-spell his name 'Bogger.'  Whatever. UA punter Danny Baugher is making it look like he'll at least remake the Arizona record book. Sixty years ago Art Pollard set the UA standard with a 45.4 individual punting mark, with 18 kicks. Currently, Baugher has boomed 33 punts for a 48.2 mark. Better still is the Cats' overall 42.0 net figure, the top mark in the nation and an improvement of seven yards from a year ago. That could mean about 400 yards' worth of better field position for the Cats this season. With the current 42.0 net average this season, the UA record for team net punting  is also in sight. The current school record is held by the 1975 club that posted a 41.2 net average behind the 43.4 individual average of Dennis Anderson. That's the fourth best mark by an individual for UA. No. 1 is Joe Payton's 44.6 average in 1965. Baugher had a 42.6 figure as a soph in 2003, No. 7 on the chart. All those marks of course predate the new NCAA statistical guideline this year that subtracts touchback yardage (20) from individual and net punting -- another reason why Baugher's efforts this season have been so impressive.


Wood Approaching Wade

TE Brad Wood’s five touchdowns are the most by a UA receiver in a single season since current Chicago Bear Bobby Wade hauled in eight scoring passes in 2002. At his current pace, Wood needs to score 1.2 TDs per game in the final  five contests in the regular season to tie Theopolis “T” Bell for the school single season TD reception record of 11 set all the way back in 1974.

Single Season Touchdown Receptions

Player Year TDs Total Receptions
Theopolis “T” Bell 1974 11 53
Keith Hartwig 1976 10 54
Dennis Northcutt 1997 9 58
Jeremy McDaniel  1998 9 58
Jim Greth    1966 8 76
Richard Dice  1994 8 56
Dennis Northcutt 1999 8 88
Bobby Wade  2001 8 62
Bobby Wade   2002 8 93
Brad Wood     2005 5 21


If you build it, they will come

A program with promise, that is. In three games, Arizona has drawn average crowds of 55,115 -- 98 percent of the seating capacity of 56,002. Should similar crowds assemble for UA's final three home games the Cats would check in with the No. 2 season average in UA history. The 1994 club drew crowds averaging 56,562 (including sizeable media/service contingents on hand).  Since Arizona Stadium was expanded from 32,000 capacity for the 1976 season, annual attendance has topped the 50,000 average 10 times -- including Mike Stoops' first year in 2004 when UA drew 50,111 per game.


Putting on the Hits

Senior safety Darrell Brooks is moving closer to UA's top 20 chart for career tackles making a team-high 51 stops in UA’s first six games this year. Brooks has 258 total tackles in his four-year career. No. 20 on the list is nose guard John Sanguinetti (1974-77) with 270. Two defensive backs are on the chart -- safeties Chuck Cecil (7th with 392) and Jeff Hammerschmidt (19th with 279). The leader is former middle linebacker Ricky Hunley with 566 -- an average of 12.9 per game over his four year career from 1980-83. Brooks has averaged 75 tackles in his last two seasons and with that production this year he would surpass former linebacker Chris Singleton with 282 for the 17th-best career total in UA history.


Start Me Up

The Wildcats have a number of players on both sides of the ball with considerable starting experience on the resumes. Led by senior free safety Darrell Brooks’ 36 starts, the UA defense has six different players with 16 or more career starts (SS Lamon Means 32, DE Copeland Bryan 17, DT Paul Philipp 16, CB Antoine Cason 17 and CB Wilrey Fontenot 17). On offense, lineman Kili Lefotu paces the Cats with 35 career starts, including 10 in 2004. Others with significant starting experience include RB Mike Bell (31), OL Peter Graniello (16), WR Syndric Steptoe (16) and OL John Abramo (12).


Replay Comes Into Play

Beginning this season the Pac-10, along with nine other Division I conferences, will have instant replay on questionable plays on the field. The head coaches in the Pac-10 will have no say on whether a play should be reviewed or not, instead the conference will assign an observer in the press box that will make the calls. “Indisputable video evidence” must be present in order for a call to be overturned by the replay official in the booth. There is n

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