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Football roundup

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA receiver Syndric Steptoe drives for the endzone during Saturday's season opener at Arizona Stadium. He received a game ball for his efforts after Arizona's 21-3 win.
By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 8, 2004
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Freshman cornerback Antoine Cason's collegiate career is less than a week old and he already has an award on his resumé.

Cason was named the Pacific-10 Conference's Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Wildcats' 21-3 opening game win over Northern Arizona. Cason led the Wildcats in tackles with 13 (12 solo), added an interception, two forced fumbles, a tackle for a loss and a tip pass.

He was making his first appearance in an Arizona uniform and became the first Wildcat ever to be awarded the number after his first contest. The last Arizona freshman to be given the weekly award was Michael Jolivette in 2000.

Southern California runningback Reggie Bush received the Offensive Player of the Week for his three touchdown receptions in the BCA Football Classic against Virginia Tech Sept. 2.

Bush finished with five catches for 127 yards and 27 yards rushing. He ended the game with 258 all-purpose yards in the Trojans' win.

The special teams award went to Washington State punter Kyle Basler.

Basler punted seven times with an average of 47 yards per punt in the Cougars win over UNLV Friday night.

Arizona football fans can expect to see a heavy dose of junior runningback Mike Bell from the Wildcats' offense, but according to Head Coach Mike Stoops, it's not always going to be as bland on Saturday's 21-3 victory over Northern Arizona.

UA ran the ball 42 times, 31 went to Bell, most of which were between the tackles and used a shorter passing attack.

"We didn't open it up as much as we would have liked," said Stoops. "We have a whole lot more offense that we didn't show."

Speculation is the Wildcats are saving more of their complex offensive sets and plays for their two upcoming ranked opponents and Pac-10 foes.

Two players should return Saturday

Stoops said there were no injuries as a result of Saturday's contest and the team even expected to gain two players when freshman defensive tackle Yaniv Barnett and junior linebacker Randy Sims return to practice this week.

Stoops attributed the healthy Wildcats to the off-season conditioning and weight training, something he said he has prided all of his teams on.

No back-to-back wins for UA since 2002

UA doesn't get much time to rest after it's opening day win. The Wildcats play two top-25 opponents in the next two weeks ,and if history is any indication, it's bad news for the Wildcats.

Arizona is 1-16 against ranked opponents dating back to 2000.

The Wildcats have also not won back to back games since they opened the 2002 season 2-0. Ironically enough, those two wins came against NAU and Utah.

Nine game balls handed out after win

Following Stoops' first head coaching victory, there was plenty of love going around the locker room. Nine different game balls were handed out to players and coaches. Stoops received one from the players to commeorate his first win and all three strength coaches, Corey Edmonds, Mark Hill and Waitus Cooper, picked up the award. Five players also received the award. Sophomore receiver Syndric Steptoe picked one up for his four catch, one touchdown performance, as did junior runningback Mike Bell who finished with 118 yards and two scores. The defensivebacks were given the other three with junior Darrel Brooks and freshmen Cason and Wilrey Fontenot for their three interceptions.

Cats remember Umeh with helmet decals

Throughout the season, the Wildcats will wear a decal with the initials MC on the back of their helmets in remembrance of McCollins Umeh, who passed away June 8.

Umeh was an incoming freshman who collapsed during a

voluntary summer workout. The Wildcats held a moment of silence before last weeks' game and retired Umeh's jersey number 90 in his honor.

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