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Football Travels To Eugene to Face the Ducks
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/13/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Opponent: Oregon

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. Tucson)

Site: Autzen Stadium (54,000) - Eugene, Ore.

TV: FSNA (Dave Sitton, Dale Helestrae)

Radio: 1290 AM (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett)

 

Oregon and Arizona Historical Fast Facts

First Meeting: 1937 (Arizona 21 - Oregon 7 in Tucson)

Last Meeting: 2005 (Oregon 28 - Arizona 21 in Tucson)

All-Time Series Record: Oregon leads 19-12

Current Streak: Oregon has won seven straight

Notes on the Series: Arizona and Oregon will be meeting for the 32nd time in a series that dates back to 1937 ... The Wildcats have not won in Autzen Stadium since 1986 when they defeated the Ducks 41-17, but they have also had limited opportunities having played just six games there since the last UA victory 20 years ago ... Despite the long run since UA’s last win in Eugene, Arizona has played Oregon tough on the road, dropping a six-point game in 1989 (16-10), a one-point game in 1994 (10-9), a seven-point contest in 1997 (16-9) and a four-point game in 2000 (14-10) ... Oregon’s most lopsided win over the Cats in Eugene over the last 20 years was an 18-point victory in 1996 (49-31) ... The last time Arizona played Oregon in Autzen, UO roared out to a 28-0 lead and held on for a 28-14 victory in Mike Stoops’ first season of 2004 ... UA’s longest winning streak against UO is four straight from 1984-88 ... The Ducks’ current seven-game winning streak (1999-2005) is their longest in the all-time series ... UA’s largest margin of victory in the series is 35 points when it defeated UO 38-3 in 1998 ... UO’s largest margin of victory was a 48-10 win over the Cats in Tucson in 2003 ... The average margin of victory in the all-time series is 14.6 points, but 12 of the 31 games have been decided by nine points or less.

 

Some Game Themes...

Arizona tests its new found confidence and two-game winning streak against a team that thrives in its home surroundings, a place where it's 5-0 this year and owner of an eight-game winning streak... The Cats work to make November more memorable than it's been in a long time... Arizona's defense against the nation's No. 5 total offense... The Ducks also bring another factor into the equation, the No. 26 total defense unit, built around a superb pass defense... A week after facing the top league running back, UA faces an arguable contender in Jonathan Stewart... The Ducks' mobile quarterback, Dennis Dixon, poses a threat not unlike the nightmare UW's Isaiah Stanback brought to Arizona's attention way back when, and UO can counter with a more traditional guy in Brady Leaf if it wants... The Cats work to stop either of those guys and their nominal top target,  league-leading receiver Jaison Williams...  The Wildcats' recent poise puts it in sight of a modest but noted accomplishment: climbing over .500 late in the year for the first time since Nov. 10, 2000.

 

Last Week

Junior cornerback Antoine Cason electrified a Homecoming crowd of 55,519 with a fourth-quarter interception return of 39 yards to give Arizona its first lead, and the Cats held on to win and send the No. 8 California Bears packing, 24-20. The interception was one of three for the Cats and represented a simple axiom that proved solid -- take care of the ball and good things will happen. The Cats had no turnovers, were patient and balanced on offense (34 passes, 33 runs), reserved the right to punt (nine), were solid in the red zone (2-2 TDs)  and didn't let in-game adversity cause the turmoil it had in the recent past. The Bears' first score -- a 95-yard punt return by DeSean Jackson four minutes into the game -- might have been a dagger earlier in the year, but UA's measure of swagger from its Top 25 victory at WSU a week earlier helped it retain focus. Cal's halftime lead of 17-3, and its array of skill-position weaponry in Jackson, QB Nate Longshore and RB Marshawn Lynch, posed a problem. But Arizona kept at it, marked by solid drives of 75 and 50 yards for scores to tie late in the third period and early in the fourth. Then, with a dozen minutes left, Cason -- earlier in the week named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, showed why with the huge play. The Bears came within a whisker of re-knotting the game three minutes later, but receiver Lavelle Hawkins fell down in an open field at the 1 yard-line, and Arizona spined up with a superb goal-line stand. Linebacker Dane Krogstad and safety Michael Klyce stopped Lynch for a 1-yard loss, linebackers Spencer Larsen and Ronnie Palmer did it again, and Krogstad knocked down a Longshore pass to force a field goal. The Cats played field position the rest of the way, with punter Nick Folk giving Cal possession at its own 27 and 10 yard lines on two drives. The final one ended with a tipped ball by UA defensive lineman Marcus Smith that Palmer picked off at the UA 20 yard-line. Quarterback Willie Tuitama took a knee two times to end the game. Free safety Corey Hall had a tackle, interception and broke up two passes in his first start for injured Dominic Patrick, and strong safety Klyce came on for injured Michael Johnson and notched five tackles and knocked down a pass plus shared the big tackle in the red zone. Those contributions mirrored the Cats' new chemistry -- confidence and team play in the clutch.

 

Cal Quick Hits

The victory over No. 8 Cal marked the second consecutive season that Arizona has defeated a top 10-ranked opponent on Homecoming Weekend (No. 7 UCLA in 2005) ... Arizona, which did not fumble or have an interception, recorded its first turnover-free game of the season against the Golden Bears which entered the game with a Pac-10-best +11 turnover margin and 20 interceptions on the year ... DB Antoine Cason’s “Pick-Six” in the fourth quarter was his first career defensive score at UA and his 10th all-time interception ... It was also UA’s first defensive TD since teammate Michael Johnson returned an interception 40 yards for a score at Oregon State last season ... Arizona’s three interceptions of Nate Longshore, the Pac-10’s passing efficiency leader, was a season-high for a game for the Cats and the most in a contest since picking off six passes at Oregon State last year ... WR Mike Thomas’ 39-yard reception in the third quarter was his longest of the season ... DB Devin Ross gained 10 yards on his first career carry on UA’s successful fake punt attempt in the second quarter ... Cory Hall earned his first career start at FS in place of an injured Dominic Patrick ... RB Chris Henry tied his career-high with two rushing TDs (at WSU in 2006, at UCLA in 2004) ... P Nick Folk tied a season-high with nine punts in the contest ... Folk also connected on his sixth-straight field goal attempt ... The 14 points scored in the fourth quarter against the Golden Bears equaled a season high for the Cats (14 vs. SFA) and were the first points scored in the final 15 minutes of a game since Nick Folk kicked a FG against USC on Sept. 23.

 

A Quick Look at Oregon

The Ducks have fallen out of the top 25 for the first time this season following a 35-10 loss at USC last weekend ... Still the Duck are bowl-eligible, having put together a 7-3 record thus far ... Offensively, the Ducks are averaging 33.7 points per game (12th nationally) and 446.4 total yards (fifth nationally, first in the Pac-10) - 195.4 rushing, 251.0 passing ... Individually QB Dennis Dixon is fourth in the Pac-10 in total offense (229 ypg) and has the sixth-best passing efficiency in the conference (125.6) ... His main target has been WR Jaison Williams, who is 12th nationally and first in the Pac-10 after averaging 6.2 catches per game. His 92.9 yards receiving per game also leads the conference and is 11th nationally ... Jonathan Stewart is the main rushing threat, averaging 84.0 yards per game ... Defensively the Ducks are allowing a very stingy 293.3 yards per game this year, however their rushing defense has been prone to give up some yards, allowing 147.8 yards per game, a figure that ranks 80th nationally and ninth in the Pac-10 ... Head coach Mike Belloti is in his 12th season at Oregon and has put together a 97-45 record as the Ducks top guy.

 

Match Ups  to Watch

Some of the unit match ups this week are intriguing. Arizona is No. 24 in Division IA rushing defense (105 yards per game), while the Ducks are No. 11 in rushing (195 ypg)... The Ducks are 103rd in net punting (31.8) while Arizona is 23rd in punt returns (12.70)... Arizona is 34th in net punting (36.5), while Oregon is 24th in punt returns (12.68)... Arizona is 20th in kickoff returns (23.9), while Oregon is 91st in KOR defense (21.9)... Oregon is 12th in scoring (33.7 ppg), while Arizona holds opponents to 19.7 ppg (40th).

 

Polar Opposites

Oregon has punted the ball only 2.6 times per game, while Arizona checks in at 6.4. The Cats have nearly punted the ball as many times (64) this season as the combined punts (73) by the Ducks and their opposition. One huge key is that the Ducks are converting 48 percent of their third-down plays. Arizona converts 30 percent. The kick is a solid weapon for Arizona, as it is second in the Pac-10 in net punting at 36.5 yards and it has allowed the Cats to win the average starting position for drives in each of the last four straight games. The Ducks are 10th in the Pac-10 in punting with a 31.8 yard per kick average.

 

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.

 

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy...

but nobody has probably had it this hard. The Cats' 2006 schedule is rated the 12th-toughest in Division IA by the NCAA, a derivation of opponents' won-loss marks...  UA has played three Top 10 opponents as rated by the Associated Press -- No. 8 LSU, No. 3 USC and No. 8 Cal - as well as No. 25 Washington State. In Mike Stoops first three seasons as head coach he has had to face a demanding slate that has seen 14 of the 32 opponents ranked in the top 25. Not an easy schedule for a man trying to rebuild a program.

 

Two for the Road

Arizona, which defeated Stanford, 20-7, in Palo Alto on Oct. 14 and No. 25 Washington State, 27-17, in Pullman on Nov. 4, has won back-to-back road games for the first time since 2001 when the Cats downed California, 38-24, in Berkeley and beat Arizona State, 34-21, in Tempe two weeks later. Should the Cats defeat Oregon in Eugene this Saturday, it would mark the first three-game road winning streak since the opening of the 2000 season when the Wildcats defeated Utah 17-3 in SLC, downed Stanford 27-3 in Palo Alto and upset No. 22 USC 31-15 in Los Angeles. Arizona’s last three-game conference road winning streak came in 1998 when it went 4-0 on the road against Stanford, Washington, Oregon State and Cal.

 

It’s All About 20

When the Cats score 20 or more points this season they are a perfect 4-0, when giving up 20 or less to the opposition they are 4-2.

 

Moving On Up

Arizona's three league victories give it more then it has accomplished since 2000 when the team opened 3-0 and dropped its last five. The two November Pac-10 victories are the most in that month since the 1998 and 1997 teams were 3-0 in the month.

 

It’s How You Finish

Maybe Oregon falling out of the top 25 for the first time this season isn’t such a bad thing for the Ducks this week. Come the final month of the regular season Mike Stoops has proven that you don’t want to face his Wildcat club if the pollsters favor you. In five November contests against top 25 teams the last two-plus seasons, the Wildcats are a very stout 4-1 and have won four straight. In the 11th month of the year under Stoops, the Wildcats have defeated No. 18 Arizona State (34-27 in 2004), No. 7 UCLA (52-14 in 2005), No. 25 Washington State (27-17 on Nov. 4 this year) and most recently No. 8 Cal (24-20 last weekend). UA’s lone November loss to a top 25 team under Stoops was 49-9 defeat to No. 1-ranked and eventual national champion USC in 2004.

Arizona vs. Top 25 Teams in November Under Mike Stoops

2004 vs. No 1 USC - L, 49-9
vs. No. 18 Arizona - W, 34-27
2005 vs. No. 7 UCLA - W, 52-14
2006 at No. 25 Washington State - W, 27-17
vs. No. 8 California - W, 24-20
 

It Hasn’t Been Pretty...

Arizona’s average yards per carry that is, but who really cares when you post a pair of wins over two top 25 teams. The tough, grind?'em out ground game that UA has employed over the last two contests has produced just a 2.3 ypc average (with the longest rush coming on a 22-yard end-around by WR Mike Thomas at Washington State), but it has allowed the Cats’ offense to own possession of the ball and keep two of the Pac-10’s better offenses (WSU and Cal) off of the field. In the pair of wins, the Wildcats have nearly a nine-minute advantage in time of possession (34:18-25:43). The main individual catalyst for the UA rushing attack has been RB Chris Henry. The junior has tallied a workhorse 60 carries, is averaging 75 yards per game and has found the endzone four times in the two games (twice in each win). Henry’s 35 carries against Washington State on Nov. 4 were not only a school single game record, but they are tied for fifth-most in the nation this year behind 43 by Donald Brown of UConn vs. Pitt, 39 by Ray Rice of Rutgers vs. Pitt, 38 by Jamario Thomas of North Texas against Florida International and 37 by Branden Ore of Virginia Tech against Clemson.

 

Hall Pass

With an injury to starting free safety Dominic Patrick (stinger) keeping him on the bench against No. 8 Cal, the UA coaches called on redshirt freshman Cory Hall to fill against Golden Bears’ top-rated Pac-10 passing offense. Hall came through with an interception in the first quarter, the first thrown by Pac-10 passing efficiency leader Nate Longshore in 64 attempts, and finished with a pair of PBUs and a tackle. 

 

Klyce Does Nice

Although starting strong safety Michael Johnson had to leave the Cal game late in the second quarter with an injured hamstring, his backup Michael Klyce showed that there wasn’t going to be any drop off in the position. Despite playing just over two quarters in the game, Klyce racked up five tackles (second-best for any UA defender in the game), shared a tackle for loss and recorded his first career PBU in his first extended action at Arizona.

 

Building a Cason For The Thorpe

Antoine Cason had a pretty good week last week. The junior CB was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after helping lead the Cats to a 27-17 win over Washington State in Pullman and the next day was named one of 11 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award, which is presented to the nation’s top defensive back. Cason followed up the much-deserved early-week accolades with an outstanding performance against No. 8-ranked Cal and its top-rated conference passing attack on Saturday with an interception for the game-wining TD and four tackles in the 24-20 upset win.

 

Bouncing Back

After giving up the longest punt return in school history (95 yards to DeSean Jackson) on the first kick of the game last Saturday to No. 8 Cal, the Wildcat punting unit made some adjustments and bounced back nicely. Kicking eight more times in the contest, punter Nick Folk and the Wildcat coverage unit allowed Jackson and fellow return man Justin Forsett just 33 more yards on returns. Folk was the main contributor, averaging 45.3 yards per punt while pinning the Golden Bears inside their own 20 four times.

 

D?©j? vu

Check this out - Arizona completes a close but disappointing seven-point home loss to a school from Oregon, heads to the Pacific Northwest and pulls off a conference road victory and then returns to Tucson the following week to knock off a top 10 school from the University of California system on Homecoming Weekend. Sound familiar? Well, it should because it is not only what has transpired over the last three weeks this year, but it is identical situation that happened exactly at this time last season. Now the Cats need to make sure that the Deja Vu wears off and they begin to write a new script, as they fell to Washington at home last season after pulling off the upset victory on Homecoming.

2005 2006
Oregon Opponent: L- vs. Oregon, 28-21  L - vs. Oregon State, 17-10
Pacific Northwest Opp: W - at Oregon State, 29-27 W - at Washington State, 27-17
Top 10 UC System HC Opp: W - No. 7 UCLA, 52-14 W - No. 8 Cal, 24-20

 

Better Get ?'Em Early

Over the last four games the Wildcats have gotten pretty stingy about giving up points. Dating back to the Stanford game on Oct. 15 and covering the Oregon State contest, the game at No. 25 Washington State and the upset win over No. 8 Cal, the Wildcats are allowing 15.2 points per game. A very noteworthy mark, but when dissecting it a bit further one sees that over the last four games, the opposition has scored 34 points in the first quarter (0 for Stanford, 14 for OSU, 10 for WSU, 10 for Cal) and just 27 over the final three quarters (seven on a second quarter interception return at Stanford, an early third quarter TD at WSU, a late FG vs. Oregon State and a second quarter TD and a fourth quarter FG against Cal), a trend that shows once the Stoops Brothers and the defensive staff make their early-game adjustments, putting up points on the Cats can become a pretty tough task.

Scoring by Quarter - The Last Four Games

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Totals
UA 24 19 24 14 81
Opp 34 14 7 6 61

 

Nick's Clicking

Do-it-all kicker Nick Folk has been successful on his last six field goal tries, including a 39-yarder against No. 8 Cal, 48-yarder at No. 25 Washington State and a 45-yard boot at Stanford. That's his best in-season stretch, topping a pair of three consecutive makes twice as a sophomore and once last year. His 12 successful FG attempts are not only a career best, but they are the most for an Arizona team since Bobby Gill (7-for-11) and Sean Keel (6-for-11) teamed up for 13 makes in 2002. So much for the days of 2003 when Arizona went 2-for-11 for the season when trying for three and eventually just gave up on the FG attempt at the end of the year.

 

Moving The Chains

UA converted a season-high nine third down plays (18) attempts at No. 25 WSU Nov. 4 and was a bit more modest last weekend against No. 8 Cal (3 for 15). However, the 36 percent success rate is nearly astronomical when compared to the opposition’s 19 percent (5 for 26) over that same two-game span. The Arizona defense limited the Cougs to just 2 of 13 on third down and Cal, the Pac-10’s third-best team on third down (42%), to just 3 of 13.

 

Going For It

Including a fake punt on 4th-and-7 and gutsy 4th-and-1 in their own territory early the third quarter last week against Cal, the Cats have tried to convert on fourth down 13 times this year, making 10 (77%). Nice. The Opposition? 0-for-4.

 

The Last 10 Years, Through 10 Games

Arizona’s 2006 defense can hold its head high. The Wildcat 11 currently have numbers that are better than or close to the best numbers put up in Tucson over the last 10 years. A look at how UA’s current defense stacks up over the last decade through 10 games played.

Year Scoring D Total D Rush D Pass D TDs 
1997 28.2 330.7 101.3 229.4 37
1998 15.1 317.3 107.4 209.9 20
1999 29.4 365.6 138.3 227.3 36
2000 20.7 322.8 89.8 233 24
2001 35.6 405.2 143.1 262.1 46
2002 23.5 381.7 171.8 209.9 26
2003 35.6 444.9 174.6 270.3 46
2004 24.8 366.9 127.3 239.6 33
2005 26.7 412.8 189.8 223 34
2006 19.7 (16.9) 314 105.8 208.2 23 (19)

- Numbers in () are minus the four TDs the opposition has scored on INT and punt returns.

- Only the 1997, 2000 and 2006 teams played three games in their first 10 vs. Top 10 opponents.

 

Fumblitis???

The knock on UA’s running game by many of the pundits heading into the season was their proclivity to fumble the ball. RB coach Kasey Dunn focused on holding onto the rock during preseason camp, and his charges have taken heed. On 261 total touches this season (237 rushes, 24 receptions) not a single Arizona running back has lost a fumble. Starting RB Chris Henry, who lost three fumbles on his first 11 carries last season, has not coughed up the ball on a team-high 120 carries this year, including a single-game school record 35 touches in rainy Pullman, Wash., on Nov. 4. In fact, the Wildcats as a team are tied for 10th in the nation after having lost only five fumbles all season (one on a kickoff return, one on a punt return, one after a reception, one on C-QB exchange and one defensively), while the defense has recovered an opposition fumble a total of 10 times.

 

It’s Even Better Then It Looks

Arizona enters the Oregon game with a scoring defense that ranks 40th among Division IA teams and third in the conference, allowing an average of 19.7 points per game. However, if you subtract the 28 points scored by the opposition on interception and punt returns this season (LSU - INT, UCLA - INT, Stanford - INT, Cal - Punt), that average gets cut to 16.9 which would place the Wildcats 22nd in the country and second in the Pac-10 behind only the current conference leader USC which is allowing 14.8 points per game thus far.

 

Holding Them Down

Arizona has limited two of the most potent offenses in the nation to their fewest points in a game this season. No. 25-ranked Brigham Young, which scored a season-low 13 points against Arizona in the season-opener, is seventh in the nation with an average of 36.5  points per game heading into the final games of regular season play. USC, which is 18th nationally with an average 32.0 points per game, managed a season-low 20 points against the Wildcats, including a gift seven points after UA turned the ball over deep in its own territory late in the September contest. For the year, the Wildcats have held seven of their nine opponents below their season average for points (BYU, Stephen F. Austin, USC, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State and Cal).

 

A Dominant Defensive Effort

The Arizona defense limited Stanford to just 32 offensive plays on Oct. 14 (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.

 

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