Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Football Heads To Stanford
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 10, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Opponent: Stanford

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Site: Stanford Stadium (50,000) - Palo Alto, Calif.

TV: None

Radio: 1290 AM (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett)


Stanford and Arizona Historical Fast Facts

First Meeting: 1979 (Stanford 30 - Arizona 10)

Last Meeting: 2005 (Stanford 20 - Arizona 16)

All-Time Series Record: Arizona leads 12-9

Current Streak: Stanford has won three straight

Notes on the Series: Arizona heads to Palo Alto for the first time since 2002 for the 22nd all-time meeting with Stanford ... Due to  conference scheduling, the Wildcats and Cardinal did not meet in 2003 and 2004 before resuming the Pac-10 rivalry last season in Tucson ... The Cardinal scored 10 points in the second and third quarters each last season to hold off the Wildcats despite giving up statistical edges in time of possession (34:25-25:35), first downs (17-11), rushing yards (110-58), passing yards (161-137) and total offense (271-195) ... The Cardinal have won the last three meetings between the two (2001, 2002, 2005), marking their longest winning streak in the all-time series ... Arizona’s longest winning streak all-time against Stanford is six straight from 1991-98 ... Arizona’s largest margin of victory in the series is 24 points, accomplished in 1994 (34-10) and in UA’s last win over Stanford in 2000 (27-3) ... Stanford’s largest margin of victory was a 28-point win over the Cats in 1999 (50-22) ... Arizona, which has not played in the re-done Stanford Stadium yet, is 6-4 all-time in Palo Alto and 6-4 against the Cardinal in Tucson. UA and SU played a contest in Tokyo, Japan in 1986, the only neutral site game between the two. Stanford won 29-24 ... Six of the 21 previous meetings have been decided by six points or less, but the average margin of victory between the two is 12.7 points ... Stanford is one of three Pac-10 schools Arizona had never faced prior to joining the conference in 1978 (Washington and Cal are the other two).


Some Game Themes...

Both squads need this one to adjust the team chemistry equations for the rest of the way out... One team is guaranteed a view of life outside the Pac-10 cellar after this game... Does a match of the nation's 118th-rated rushing offense (UA) vs. the nation's 119th-ranked rushing defense (SU) portend some kind of sparks in a running game? On paper there's that and other bits of intrigue, such as the field position factor in this: UA is 23rd nationally in net punting and Stanford is 116th in punt returns... It's probable that UA senior quarterback Adam Austin gets his second career start, while SU senior Trent Edwards would be working in his 31st start... Will those guys have more time to operate? Both teams rank below 109th in sacks and tackles for loss... Arizona's first trip to refurbished Stanford Stadium, a place where it has enjoyed decent success at 6-4 over the years.


Last Week

Arizona's offensive unit did well enough to keep the defense off the field for some appropriate breaks, but couldn't nail enough big plays to put the ball in the end zone in a 27-7 loss to UCLA at the Rose Bowl. The Cats went scoreless in the second half for the first time in 2006, and let UCLA post 13 second-half points in what otherwise was a tight game. UA's rushing attack was held to negative yardage (-13) for the third consecutive game, but the Wildcats found some success with backup QB Adam Austin leading UA to a total of 235 yards passing in relief after starter Willie Tuitama left early in the second quarter after suffering a concussion. UCLA, meantime, saw its backup Patrick Cowan play effectively after starter Ben Olson was knocked from the game with a knee injury in the middle of the first quarter. The Bruins' defense played as advertised, allowing only 222 net yards, but Arizona's defense also played as expected, giving up only 292 total. Arizona ran a season-high 68 offensive plays but could not find consistency to build drives, plus came up empty on three penetrations of the Bruin 35 yard-line -- the last at the Bruin 16 yard-line that finished with a 89-yard interception return for the final score by UCLA's Al Verner. The Cats had shown in earlier games that victory hinged on taking advantage of those kind of scoring opportunities, and it didn't happen. UA had more time of possession, equal success on third down, similar field position throughout and the same modest number of first downs. It didn't score enough points. It thwarted UCLA's offense for much of the time, but had no answer for a pair of 13-play long drives by the Bruins for field goals in the third quarter. Still, the game was in the balance with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter.


UCLA Quick Hits

Arizona ran its most offensive plays of the season (68) and attempted the most passes (42) ... The Arizona defense limited UCLA RB Chris Markey, who entered the game No. 9 nationally and second in the Pac-10 with a 113-yard per game average, to just 40 yards on 14 carries ... So. WR Mike Thomas caught his first TD pass of the season to account for UA’s lone score ... The TD pass from Sr. QB Adam Austin was the first throwing score of his career at Arizona (he rushed for a TD against Stephen F. Austin earlier in the season) ... Austin posted career highs in attempts (30), completions (15) and yards (192) in the contest ... Despite being the team’s leading tackler overall for the year, it was just the third game this season that Jr. LB Spencer Larsen led the team in stops in a game (8 solo tackles vs. the Bruins) ... So. Adrian McCovy made his first career start at linebacker for the Wildcats ... Jr. DT Yaniv Barnett made his first start on the defensive line since injuring his elbow against LSU in the second game of the year (3 starts missed) ... Jr. Dominic Patrick broke up a season-high three passes for the Wildcats in the contest, a career-high for the first-year starter ... Sr. WR Syndric Steptoe finished with a career-high eight catches for 70 yards ... Steptoe’s 43-yard kick return in the first half was the longest of the season for Arizona.


A Quick Look at Stanford

The Cardinal enter the weekend of play 0-6 overall and 0-3 in conference action ... Stanford was most-recently tripped up 31-10 by Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., last weekend ... The Cardinal is averaging 278.8 yards of total offense per game this season, gaining 84.7 yards on the ground and 194.2 through the air ... Sr. QB Trent Edwards has posted some positive numbers despite the Cardinal’s struggles ... With a 120.56 passer efficency rating, Edwards has completed 60 percent of his passes this season for 1,027 yards in six games, an average of 171.2 yards in six games. He has tossed six TD passes and six interceptions in 2006 ... Walk-on WR Kelton Lynn leads the Cardinal with 18 receptions for 248 yards and two TDs this season ... RB Toby Gerhart, a two-sport freshman, leads Stanford with 261 yards rushing on 62 attempts for a 4.2 YPC average. Gerhart will also suit up for the Cardinal’s baseball team in the spring ... Defensively, the Cardinal is surrendering an average of 455 yards per game this season ... Stanford has scored seven times with the pass and given up seven passing TDs this season ... The run has been a particular nemesis for Stanford this season, as it has allowed 1,618 yards rushing in six games this year, an NCAA Division I-A-worst average of 269.7 YPG ... Opponents have scored 17 rushing touchdowns against just two running TDs for SU in the 2006 ... Second-year head coach Walt Harris brings a 5-12 overall record at Stanford into this weekend’s game.


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 58-yarder against Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 16 and the longest 80 yards against BYU on Sept. 2. For the season, UA is averaging 70.1 yards, 9.6 plays and a TOP of 4:14 on its touchdown drives.


23 and Counting

Senior WR Syndric Steptoe extended his streak to 23 straight games with at least one catch with a career-best eight receptions for 70 yards last Saturday at UCLA. His streak is second only to injured USC junior Dwyane Jarrett (29 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 23 games he has played in (he missed an Oregon State game twice during his streak due to injury). Step has caught 91 passes for 1,183 yards and five TDs over the 23 games. He is averaging nearly four catches per game, and 13.0 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 career-best eight receptions against UCLA last weekend pushed him over the 100-mark for his career and 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 30 this year for a career total of 106. His effort against the Bruins 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. Steptoe, 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. Next up on the career list for Step is TV’s (Terry Vaughn 1990-93) No. 8 spot at 109 and Rodney Williams’ (1995-97) and Derek Hill’s (1985-88) shared No. 7 slot at 112.


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 3,505 career all-purpose yards on 240 total plays (14.6/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 194 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 14397 56-899
2005 8-73 37-493 19-484 20-221 84-1,271
2006 3-16 30-361 12-304 3-25 40-436
Totals                15-122    106-1,377 76-1,652 44-354 240-3,505


Mr. T

Hampered by an ankle sprain early on, So. WR Mike Thomas got off to a slower start than expected, collecting just nine receptions for 80 yards in Arizona’s first three games of 2006. Healthy now, Thomas’ numbers have changed over the course of the last three contests, as he has heated up with 18 receptions for 248 yards, an average of 82.7 per contest, and one TD.


Adam’s All Right

Should starting QB Willie Tuitama be unable to go against Stanford this Saturday after getting knocked from the UCLA game last weekend, backup Adam Austin has proven he can move the team. In four games played this season, Austin has guided the Wildcats on three TD drives (two vs. SFA, and one at UCLA) and one FG-scoring drive (at LSU). Last weekend at UCLA, he engineered UA’s lone scoring drive when he took the Cats 71 yards on 10 plays in the second quarter. On that particular drive, Austin was 3-for-3 on his passing attempts for 64 yards, including a 10-yard TD throw to WR Mike Thomas.


Top Stoppers

Linebackers Spencer Larsen (48) and Ronnie Palmer (36) are atop UA’s tackles chart, a nice trend compared to a year ago when safety Darrell Brooks had 51 tackles after six games. Add in linebacker Dane Krogstad’s 27 hits and the trio has a total of 111 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 third in the Pac-10 with an average of eight tackles per game, Palmer comes in tied for 20th in the conference (6.0) and Krogstad at No. 42 (4.5).


PBU Patrick

UA junior free safety Dominic Patrick, a 14-tackle special teams player before assuming the top FS role this year, has broken up five passes in the last two games, including three at UCLA, the most since nickel back Marcus Hollingsworth posted the same number against Northern Arizona a year ago. (Although, Michael Johnson's three interceptions at Oregon State seven weeks later also might be considered 'pass breakups'...)  Patrick, who played as a true freshman in 2004, leads the club with six PBUs and has shown the propensity to make big hits. He has 29 tackles this year, 23 of those the solo variety.

It’s Starting to Feel Like Holmes

It took him a couple of games to acclimated, but junior college transfer Louis Holmes is beginning to show why he was one of the most sought-after JC prospects in the country. In UA’s first three games this season, Holmes posted eight total tackles, an average of 2.6 stops per game. Over the last three, Holmes has recorded 13 tackles (4.3 TPG), including 10 solo stops, a sack and a PBU. His emergence has allowed the UA coaching staff to move Sr. Marcus Smith inside to help offset some injuries among the defensive tackles. 


Long Plays

Syndric Steptoe leads the team with 16 of the Wildcats’ 25 plays of 20 yards or longer. His longest is a 48-yard catch against BYU, while Chris Henry has the longest play of the year, a 54-yard run also against BYU. Chris Jennings had runs of 41, 30 and 30 yards to his credit (the first two vs. SFA, the last vs. LSU). None of the 25 plays have been scores. The longest rushing touchdown is a 10-yarder by Jennings against SFA and the longest passing score was a 13-yard throw-catch by Tuitama and Steptoe against Washington. Steptoe has eight kick returns of 20 yards or more, against five of the six opponents. Defensively, Arizona has limited the opposition to 24 plays of 20 yards or longer (four per game). The longest play surrendered by the UA defense this season was 55-yard TD pass by Washington’s Isaiah Stanback to Sonny Shackelford.


The Final 15

Through five 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 6-11 7-7 35-45.4 19-15TB
John Deraney, NC State 4-4 10-10 34-37.8 22-13TB
Chris Gould, Virginia 6-10 10-10 40-40.2 22-13TB
Greg Johnson, Texas 1-2 32-32 20-41.9 34-10TB
Matt Lasher, Ohio 5-10 12-13 35-41.1 25-7TB
Ryan Succop, S. Carolina 8-9 13-13 17-45.1 30-12TB
Sam Swank, Wake Forest 8-11 16-16 28-42.7 30-11TB


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.


The X-Man

With limited touches so far, redshirt freshman RB Xavier Smith has shown he can be a productive back. On just 11 carries in 2006, Smith is averaging 5.8 yards per tote for 65 total yards. He posted a career-long of 17 yards against Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 16.


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 5.8 yards per carry after rushing for team-high 284 yards on 49 attempts in four 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.


An Impressive Start

Chris Jennings 201 yards rushing in his first career start against Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 16 not only helped him crack the all-time top 10 single game performances by a UA running back (No. 10), but it was among the top running efforts by a first-time starter. A look at some recent UA rushers starting debuts.

Player  Date Opponent Numbers
Mike Bell 10/5/2002 Oregon 21-54 yards
Clarence Farmer  10/7/2000 at USC 22-134 yards, TD
Leo Mills 11/4/2000 at Washington 29-185 yards, 2 TD
Trung Canidate  10/31/1998 Oregon 17-73 yards
Gary Taylor  9/11/1993 Pacific 29-174 yards 
Ontiwaun Carter  9/28/1991 Long Beach St. 10-118 yards
David Adams  9/1/1984 Fresno State 15-76 yards

Notes: Bell (No. 4), Farmer (No. 7), Canidate (No. 1), Carter (No. 2) and Adams (No. 6) are all among the career rushers leaders in school history ... Although records don’t indicate starts, Art Luppino’s season debut in his sophomore year of 1954 against New Mexico State was one for the history books. The “Cactus Comet”, the No. 3 all-time rusher at Arizona, ran for 228 yards on just six carries and had scoring runs of 37, 48, 78 and 47 yards in the 58-0 Wildcat win. Press clippings from the time indicate Luppino was a second-team RB behind senior Ken Cardella during his freshman season of 1953.


Hey, Watch Me

The early season “watch lists” continue to stream forth and a number of Wildcats have garnered recognition ... Junior CB Antoine Cason is listed as a player to watch for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation’s top DB ... Senior PK/P Nick Folk has been placed on the watch list for both the Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation’s top place kicker, and the Ray Guy Award, presented to the top punter ... Sophomore WR Mike Thomas was recently named to the Fred Biletninikoff Award watch lists presented to the top receiver.


Sophomore Signal Callers

Including heralded Willie Tuitama, UA has had a host of second-year QBs stand under center over the years. However, one would have to go back to Keith Smith in 1996 to find a sophomore QB that was “the guy” entering the season and played that way throughout. The list of sophomore QBs to make an impact at Arizona over the last 25 years is somewhat exclusive. Here’s a look at the few that jump out:

Name Year Team Record Final Stats (Att-Comp-Int)
Tom Tunnicliffe 1981 6-5 11 GP, 328-176-14, 2,520 yds, 18 TD
Alfred Jenkins 1984 7-4 11 GP, 312-156-17, 2,202 yds, 11 TD
Ronnie Veal 1988 7-4 10 GP, 105-40-3, 669 yds, 4 TD
Dan White 1993 10-2
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