By Kevin Clerici
Arizona Daily Wildcat November 15, 1996
Keith Smith versus Cade McNown.
Not exactly Tyson-Holyfied, but the winner between the two second-year quarterbacks will likely knock out one of the two teams' chances for a successful record.
Arizona (4-5 overall, 3-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference) is coming off a 49-31 drubbing from the lowly Oregon Ducks, but now the Wildcats return to the friendly confines of Arizona Stadium, where they have yet to lose. UCLA (4-5, 3-3) upset Washington State 38-14 at the Rose Bowl and still figures it can reach postseason play with wins in its final two games.
It's the 12th round for both schools and there will be no be draw.
"Our whole concentration is on them," UA head coach Dick Tomey said. "You have to put it all out there and take your chances."
Arizona will rely on the athletic ability of Smith. His 142.2 quarterback rating is third in the conference, and he has completed a league-best 63 percent of his passes.
While Smith's running ability has accounted for seven touchdowns, his banged-up shoulder should keep Wildcat fans grimacing when he takes off downfield.
"Keith has made enormous strides - subtle things like checking off and making good decisions," Tomey said.
UCLA will attempt what many teams have tried to do this season: Keep him between the hash marks.
"The big thing is you have to put a lot of pressure on him and try to contain him while you are doing that," UCLA head coach Bob Toledo said. "He is a tough guy to deal with. He is the fastest quarterback in our conference and he is an outstanding passer."
For UCLA, McNown has a season's experience under his belt and an emerging rushing game. Last week, McNown completed 16 of 32 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He did, however, have two interceptions, which brought his season total up to 14.
"One of the things that happens with Cade is that he is such a fierce competitor that oftentimes he thinks that he has to win the game himself," Toledo said. "He is still going through a learning experience."
Tailback Skip Hicks is averaging nearly 97 yards a game and has found the end zone 17 times.
Arizona's onetime league-leading defense has looked anything but swarm-like in the last two games, giving up 105 points and 1,121 yards.
"There is no magical answer or a need to make any drastic changes," UA defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff said.
"We are going to do the same things, just do them better."