Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Football Hosts Oregon State Today
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 21, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Opponent: Oregon State

Kickoff: 4 p.m.

Site: Arizona Stadium (56,002) - Tucson, Ariz.

TV: None

Radio: 1290 AM (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett)


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Oregon State and Arizona Historical Fast Facts

First Meeting: 1966 (Oregon State 31 - Arizona 12)

Last Meeting: 2005 (Arizona 29 - Oregon State 27)

All-Time Series Record: Arizona leads 20-8-1

Current Streak: Arizona won the last meeting in Corvallis last season, snapping a six-game winning streak for the Beavers over the Wildcats.

Notes on the Series: Arizona and Oregon State will be meeting for the 30th time this weekend in Tucson ... Oregon State travels to Arizona for just the third time since 2000. UA and OSU have played four games in Corvallis over the last six seasons ... The Wildcats are 11-2 all-time against the Beavers in Tucson, but have lost the last two meetings in Arizona Stadium (2000, 2004) ... Last season, the Wildcats took advantage of seven Oregon State turnovers, including six interceptions, and held on for a two-point, 29-27, win in Corvallis. The win was UA’s lone conference road victory of the year ... Arizona’s longest winning streak in the all-time series is 12 straight, accomplished from 1971-1988 ... Oregon State’s longest winning streak of six straight (1999-2004) was snapped last season ... UA’s largest margin of victory against OSU was a 44-point win in 1983 (50-6) ... OSU’s largest margin of victory is 35 points, accomplished twice in back-to-back seasons (38-3, 2001-02) ... Last year’s two-point Arizona win was just the third decided by five points or less in the all-time series ... The average margin of victory in the all-time series is 19.5 points


Some Game Themes...

UA gets another crossroads test in its climb back to respectability, with a shot at a .500 record in late October for the first time since 2000... Arizona's depth at quarterback gets another test as the club enters the game with a third 2006 starter in Kris Heavner... With that factor, might the Cats stick with the running game, particularly against a team rated No. 2 nationally with nearly four sacks per game? The rub: OSU comes into Tucson ranked No. 30 in rushing defense... Arizona's defense faces one of the league's best backs in Yvenson Bernard, who's on the mark for a second consecutive 1,000-yard season... UA punter Nick Folk will have to find a way to neutralize OSU's Sammy Stroughter, among national leaders at 19 yards per return... Folk's placekicking counterpart, Alexis Serna, is one of those guys who seems to have been there forever -- with 47 made field goals in 58 tries to prove it... Arizona works to win back-to-back games for the first time since last year's victories over OSU and UCLA ... It is Family Weekend on campus.


Last Week

The story lines were varied but the bottom line was all Arizona as the Wildcats took control from the onset and whipped the Cardinal in Palo Alto, Calif., 20-7. Arizona took the opening drive and quickly marched for a touchdown in seven plays, capped by Chris Jennings' 16-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Adam Austin, in only his second career start, led the Cats on another quick drive toward the end of the quarter, this time culminating in a Chris Henry 18-yard TD jaunt. That theme -- running -- underscored the afternoon for Arizona, with its top QB (Willie Tuitama) sidelined and Austin later knocked from the game with a knee injury. UA rushed for 220 yards and gained 294 total, modest by some standards but not for the fact the Cats' defense held Stanford to a Pac-10 opponent record-low 52 net yards in offense. The Cardinal ran only 13 genuine rushing plays, passed 13 times and were sacked six times -- the latter a Mike Stoops' era high for UA and the Cats' most in their last 53 games. Stanford had four first downs -- two in each half -- and scored their only points on an interception return, 72 yards by Wopamo Osaisai, late in the second quarter. The stewardship of UA's offense was in the hands of senior Kris Heavner in the second half and his 4-for-4 passing and steady hand helped UA complete 10 of its 13 passes and run a total of 64 plays to Stanford's 32. The domination up front by UA's lines helped the Cats accumulate a time of possession margin of 39 minutes to 21. The victory snapped UA's three-game league losing streak, moved it up two spots in the standings and moved the Cats to fourth in the Pac-10 in total defense. Henry had career highs of 16 carries and 91 yards, Jennings added 89 yards and freshman Xavier Smith had 56 rushing markers to make UA's ground game effective throughout. The game took two hours and 30 minutes to play -- the shortest football contest UA had played in 20 years, since a 2:25 quickie (31-6 victory) at WSU on Nov. 8, 1986.


Stanford Quick Hits

Quarterback Kris Heavner saw his first game action since Nov. 2004 ... Devin Ross went 32 yards on his first career kickoff return to open the game ... Arizona’s 13 passing attempts against Stanford last weekend were the fewest in a game since Oct. 7, 2000, when the Wildcats passed just 13 times in a 31-15 win over No. 18 USC in Los Angeles ... Arizona’s three running backs, Chris Jennings, Chris Henry and Xavier Smith, combined for 236 yards on 45 carries, an average of 5.2 yards per pop ... Henry’s 18-yard TD scamper in the first quarter eclipsed Jennings’ 16-yard TD rush earlier in the game as the longest scoring play for the Wildcats in 2006 ... The UA defense racked up a season-high six sacks in the contest ... Senior Marcus Smith recorded a pair of sacks, tying his career-best set against Washington in 2003 ... Arizona opened the game with TD on its first drive, marking the first time since Nov. 15, 2005, against Washington that it has found the endzone on the opening drive ... It also marked just the second time in seven games this season that the Wildcats have come away with points on their first touch (FG against BYU on Sept. 2).


A Dominant Defensive Effort

The Arizona defense limited Stanford to just 32 offensive plays in the game (14 in the first half, 18 in the second half) and four first downs (2 in the first half, 2 in the second) ... The four first downs allowed narrowly missed the Arizona school record of three which has happened three times ... The 52 yards gained by Stanford in the entire contest were the fewest for the Cardinal in school history ... It was also the fewest yards surrendered by a UA defense to a Pac-10 opponent in school history, surpassing the 79 yards given up to Oregon State in 1981 ... The Cardinal’s minus six yards rushing marked the first time UA has held an opponent to negative rushing yards since limiting UCLA to -31 yards in 1999 ... Stanford’s longest drive in the game, time-wise, consisted of six plays for nine yards over 3:24. The Wildcats had six drives the lasted at least that long. Stanford’s longest drive, yards-wise, was three plays for 13 yards in the first quarter that ended with a fumble ... The UA defense held Stanford to a 3:23 time of possession in the second quarter. The Cardinal ran three plays for -7 yards in the frame ... Aside from the interception return for a TD, Stanford did not possess the ball inside of Arizona’s territory all game long. The Cardinal’s best effort brought it out to its own 43 yard-line once in the third quarter.


A Quick Look at Oregon State

The Beavers head to Tucson with a 3-3 overall record and 1-2 mark in the Pac-10 ... OSU has wins over Eastern Washington, Idaho and most recently Washington last weekend. The Beavs have been downed by BoiseState, Cal and Washington State this year ... OSU brings an offense that averages 366.8 yards per game, with 123.5 gained on the ground and 243.3 through the air ... The Beavers are averaging 25.7 points per game and allowing 21.7 through six contests ... Senior QB Matt Moore has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes this season and has thrown for 1,090 yards and five TDs ... RB Yvenson Bernard is the Beavers’ go-to guy on the ground. The junior has 639 yards rushing this season for an average of 106.5 per game, which is good enough for second in the conference. Bernard has seven rushing TDs this year ... Sammie Stroughter is the favored target through the air, with 29 receptions (4.8/game) for 552 yards (92.0/game). Teammate Joe Newton has caught a team-best three TD passes this year ... Defensively, the Beavers have brought the heat this year and currently rank second in the nation in sacks (3.83/game) and tackles for loss (8.83) ... 11 different players on the OSU roster have recorded at least one sack this year ... OSU is allowing an average of 302 yards this season (109.3 rushing, 192.7 passing) ... LB Derrick Dogget is the leading hit-man with 41 total tackles, eight TFL, three sacks and a pair of interceptions ... Head coach Mike Riley, who is in his second stint with the Beavers, is in sixth overall year as the main man at OSU and has posted a 31-33 record in Corvallis.


Sharing the Duties

The week prior to Arizona’s game with Stanford, head coach Mike Stoops promoted TE coach Dana Dimel to co-offensive coordinator, a duty he will share with Mike Canales. Dimel will handle the running responsibilities for the Cats for the remainder of the season, while QB coach Canales is in charge of the Wildcats’ passing attack.


Saddle Up and Ride

Lest one think it was a total anomaly, the last time Arizona ran the ball predominantly in a game (like the 51 against Stanford) last weekend... was last year's season finale against ASU, when UA handed off 50 times... But facing Division IA's lowest rated rushing defense, Arizona ran the ball 19 times on first down against the Cardinal. Average gain: 4.3 yards. In a season of 3rd-and-longs, that was welcome stuff. UA converted seven of 15 third-down tries against the Cardinal, easily enough to keep possession for nearly 39 minutes of game time.


No Running

In this week's NCAA statistical rankings, Arizona checks in at No. 28 in rushing defense (108 ypg), easily the best October rating in that category for UA in this Millenium. Three years back UA was 85th at this time. Two years ago, 43rd. Last year, 93rd. Arizona has improved, and gets to test that improvement this week against a team that has shown the willingness to keep at it. OSU has run the ball 199 times against 183 passes. The Beavs had a huge passing factor against Washington last week -- 15 yards per attempt -- but made it possible by rushing two thirds of the time for 180 yards, vs. a team against which Arizona managed -16 rushing markers.


It’s Better Then It Looks

Arizona enters the Oregon State game with a scoring defense that ranks 51st among Division IA teams and fifth in the conference, allowing an average of 20.4 points per game. However, if you subtract the 21 points scored by the opposition on interception returns this season (LSU, UCLA Stanford), that average gets cut to 17.4 which would place the Wildcats 33rd in the country and third in the Pac-10 behind only USC (15.0) and UCLA (15.3).


Sackkin’ It

After being held to no sacks against Washington and UCLA the previous two weekends, the Arizona defense made up for lost time with a season-high six sacks against Stanford last weekend. The total from the game in Palo Alto eclipsed UA’s season total from the first six games combined (five). Led by a career-high-tying two QB stuffs by Marcus Smith, six UA players (Spencer Larsen 1.0, Jason Parker 1.5, Dane Krogstad 0.5, Yaniv Barnett 0.5, Adrian McCovy 0.5) teamed up to get to SU’s backup QB T.C. Ostrander.



There aren’t too many third-string QBs out there that can boast that they’ve started 14 career Division I games. UA’s Kris Heavner is one that can do just that. Should injured starter Willie Tuitama (concussion) and backup Adam Austin (knee) not be able to go on Saturday against Oregon State, the Wildcats will call on Heavner to make the start under center. In fact, among UA’s signal callers, Heavner remains the most experienced on the current roster. In 17 games played, Heavner has passed for 2,349 yards, thrown 12 TD passes and has completed 54 percent of his passe (209-for-384).  Tuitama has appeared in 11 games (nine starts), and has thrown for 1,923 yards and 12 TDs. Austin has appeared in seven career games (two starts), and thrown for 437 yards and one TD.


That’s 5-for-5, Thank You

Sr. QB Kris Heavner completed all four of his passing attempts for 11 yards against Stanford after replacing the injured Adam Austin in the second quarter. Dating back his last appearance against Arizona State in 2004, he has now completed his last five straight attempts. Heavner spelled former starter Richard Kovalcheck for one play against the Sun Devils, and hit Syndric Steptoe for 10 yards on a 2nd-and-17 play before returning to the sidelines.


Pac-10 Odds and Ends

While passing a very modest 13 times against Stanford last weekend, the Wildcats certainly made good when putting it up in the air. Arizona’s 76.9 completion percentage (10-for-13) in the contest is the best for any conference school in a game this season ... The Stanford game also placed UA as the top school in fewest yards allowed (52), fewest yards per play by an opponent (1.6) and the fewest first downs allowed (4) by a Pac-10 school this season ... The Cardinal’s 19 rushing attempts, 13 passes attempted and eight passes completed are tied for the second-fewest by a Pac-10 team ... The Wildcats also own the best punting average in a game this season when Nick Folk and Kyle McQuown teamed up for a 52.0 average against BYU in the season-opener ... Individually, Chris Jennings’ 201 yards rushing against Stephen F. Austin is the second-most yards on the ground by a Pac-10 running back in a game this year, and his two rushing TDs against the Lumberjacks is tied for the most by a conference rusher ... Nick Folk’s four FG tries against BYU in the season opener is tied for the most by a Pac-10 PK this season ... His 52-yard FG against Washington is the second-longest in the conference this year ... Folk’s nine punts and his 408 yards punted against Washington are atop the conference charts and his 56.0 average against BYU is the best for any Pac-10 punter.


Earning It

While Arizona hasn’t exactly scored in bunches this season, it has shown that when the offense click it can move the ball. The Wildcats have not been handed any gimmie TDs in 2006 with the shortest scoring drive of the year being a 39-yarder at Stanford last weekend, and the longest 80 yards against BYU on Sept. 2. For the season, UA is averaging 65.8 yards, 8.5 plays and a TOP of 3:54 on its touchdown drives.


24 and Counting

Senior WR Syndric Steptoe extended his streak to 24 straight games with at least one catch with five receptions for 21 yards last Saturday at Stanford. His streak is second only to USC junior Dwyane Jarrett (30  straight games) among active Pac-10 players. Dating back to the Washington State game on Sept. 25, 2004, Steptoe has hauled in at least one pass in all 24 games he has played in (he missed an Oregon State game twice during his streak due to injury). Step has caught 96  passes for 1,204 yards and five TDs over the 24 games. He is averaging four catches per game, and 12.5 yards per reception. Steptoe’s last game played without a catch was Sept. 18, 2004 against Wisconsin. Former Wildcat Dennis Northcutt is the all-time leader for consecutive games with a reception with 42-straight.


Among the Best at Arizona

Sr WR Syndric Steptoe’s five receptions at Stanford last weekend pushed him further into the top 10 all-time at Arizona. The four-year letterwinner caught nine passes his freshman season, 30 as a sophomore, 37 as a junior last season and has a team-high 35 this year for a career total of 111. His eight-catch effort against UCLA two weeks ago moved him past former Wildcats Vance Johnson (Now No. 11, 104 career receptions) and Andrae Thurman (Now No. 10, 105 career receptions) on the all-time list for the ninth-most career catches. His latest five-catch game against Cardinal pushed him past TV (Terry Vaughn 1990-93, 109 career receptions) at the No. 8. Up next for the senior captain on the career list is Rodney Williams’ (1995-97) and Derek Hill’s (1985-88) shared No. 7 slot at 112 and the No. 6 spot at 119 held by the Dice Man, Richard Dice. Step, who is averaging five receptions per game this year, is on pace for 136 catches in his Wildcat career, which would tie him with Jon Horton (1983-86) for fourth all-time at UA.


A Spring in his Step

Senior team captain Syndric Steptoe has proven to be a pain for the opposition throughout his career in his role as wide receiver/kick returner. His 140 all-purpose yards against UCLA last weekend marked the 16th time in his career he has racked up 100 or more all-purpose yards in a contest. With 3,559 career all-purpose yards on 251 total plays (14.2/play), Step is now No. 11 all-time at UA, surpassing Hubie Oliver’s 3,404 all-purpose yards that he racked up from 1977-80. To crack the all-time top 10, Step needs 140 more yards this season to displace No. 10 Eddie Wolgast (1945-48, 3,698 APY). Dennis Northcutt (1996-99) is UA’s all-time leader with 5,392 all-purpose yards.

Step’s All-Purpose Yards

Year Rushing Receiving Kickoff Returns Punt Returns Totals
2003 1-3 9-77 28-480 15-69 53-629
2004 3-30 30-446 17-384 6-39 56-899
2005 8-73 37-493 19-484 20-221 84-1,271
2006 4-15 35-382 12-304 7-59 50-436
Totals 16-121 111-1,398 76-1,652 48-388 251-3,559


Top Stoppers

Linebackers Spencer Larsen (54) and Ronnie Palmer (37) are among UA’s leaders on the tackles chart, a nice trend compared to a year ago when safety Darrell Brooks had 56 tackles after seven games. Add in linebacker Dane Krogstad’s 29 hits and the trio has a total of 120 tackles. Their combined good health was a hoped-for steady factor this year after they combined to miss 14 contests in 2005. Larsen enters the week of play tied for seventh in the Pac-10 with an average of 7.7 tackles per game, while Palmer comes in tied for 30th in the conference (5.3).


The Final 15

Through seven games this year, the Wildcats have already matched their 2005 season total for fourth quarter points. With a three field goals, including Nick Folks game-winning 48-yarder against BYU in the season opener, and two TDs (with PATs), Arizona has posted 23 points in the final 15 minutes of play, tying the 11-game total from last year.


No Return Policy

Senior PK Nick Folk has taken the words “kickoff return” completely out of the opposition’s vocabulary. On 19 kickoffs this season, Folk has seen just three of them returned, and one was a squib kick at the end of the BYU game on Sept. 4. Since ending the 16-13 win over the Cougars, Folk has kicked off 14 times over UA’s last five games, and has seen all 12 of the 14 go through the end zone as unreturnable.


Kick Folk

Well actually it’s Nick, but with the way the senior kicker has boomed the ball in the past, maybe a name change is in order. The multi-talented kicker is headed for a season of double duty as the place kicker and punter for the Wildcats. His season debut against BYU certainly showcased his talents as he connected for a career-best three field goals (30, 22, 48), including the game-winner with one second remaining, while also booting four punts for a net average of 56 yards per kick. His 75-yard punt against the Cougars was a career-long and pinned BYU on its own 5 yard-line.

        Known for having a big leg on field goals (career-long 53 yards) and kickoffs (67 career touchbacks), his punting prowess came out of necessity for the Wildcats. After punter Danny Baugher went down with a season-ending knee injury in the Wildcats’ seventh game last year, Folk took over the punting duties to go along with his normal place kicking chores. As the “fill in” punter, all Folk did was post a net average of 44.7 yards per kick (Baugher, a finalist for the 2005 Ray Guy Award, average 47.5 net yards per punt), hit a season-high 61-yarder and place eight of his 22 kicks inside the opposition’s 20 yard-line.


One of the Few

Senior Nick Folk is one of seven players on the Division I-A level that handles all of the kicking duties - kickoffs, field goals, PATs and punting - for his team. A  look at how Nick stands up against his “brethren”.

Player FGM-FGA PATs Punts KO
Nick Folk, Arizona 8-13 9-9 39-44.6 24-19TB
John Deraney, NC State 5-6 14-14 37-38.0 26-9TB
Chris Gould, Virginia 8-13 12-12 44-39.8 27-14TB
Greg Johnson, Texas 1-2 41-41 24-41.0 34-10TB
Matt Lasher, Ohio 7-12 14-15 43-40.8 30-7TB
Ryan Succop, S. Carolina 8-9 13-13 17-45.1 30-12TB
Sam Swank, Wake Forest 11-15 18-18 32-42.9 36-13TB


Nick Folk Named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week

Senior Nick Folk was named the Sept. 4 Pac-10 ST POW after booting a career-best three field goals, including the game-winner from 48 yards out in the waning moments, in Arizona’s 16-13 win over visiting BYU in front of a capacity 58,450 fans at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 2. The senior accounted for 10 of UA’s 16 points in the contest, connecting on field goals of 22, 30 and 48 yards on the night and adding one PAT. Folk handed the Wildcats their sixth-straight home-opening win when he capped off the night with his game-winning kick with one second remaining in the fourth quarter. The last second 48-yard game-winner tied for the third-longest FG in Folk’s four-year career at UA. In addition to his game-changing place-kicking duties, Folk replaced an ineffective Kyle McQuown as the team’s punter in the first half, and averaged a very impressive 56 yards per punt on four kicks, including a fourth quarter career-long 75-yard boot that placed the Cougars at their own five yard-line. On kickoffs, three of Folk’s five kicks went into the endzone for touchbacks, and BYU averaged just 12.5 yards per return on the two kicks they attempted to bring out.


Please Sign Here

Junior college transfer RB Chris Jennings has made such an impression on the Arizona coaching staff that Ashland, Ky., native has been awarded a scholarship. The news of his new status came in the days leading up to the Wildcats taking the field against Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 16, and he rewarded the wise decision with 201 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in the Wildcats’ 28-10 victory over the Lumberjacks. Jennings, who is averaging 4.7 yards per carry after rushing for team-high 405 yards on 86 attempts in seven games this season, somehow flew under the radar of recruiters after two years at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz., and joined UA as a walk-on in August for fall camp.


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