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Running game: Cats moving to matchup with Ducks


Photo
Josh Fields/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior running back Mike Bell hurdles over Stanford linebacker Mike Silva during the first half of play at Arizona Stadium on Saturday evening. The Wildcats are looking for their second win of the season when they host the 6-1 Oregon Ducks tomorrow at 4 p.m.
By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 21, 2005
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After struggling through the first half of its schedule, the Arizona football team doesn't get much of a break tomorrow.

The Wildcats (1-5, 0-3 Pacific 10 Conference) play their fourth top-15 opponent in five games when No. 15 Oregon (6-1, 3-1) comes to Arizona Stadium tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Much of the news surrounding this week's game is whether freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama will come out of his redshirt and relieve the team's starting quarterback, redshirt sophomore Richard Kovalcheck.

Tuitama has taken snaps with the first-team offense this week in practice, and Arizona head coach Mike Stoops has said the best player will start tomorrow, whomever that may be.

While much of the attention this week has gone to the Wildcat quarterback situation, Arizona might want to focus more on a Ducks passing attack that ranks fifth in the nation.

"Oregon is very talented across the board," Stoops said. "They're a very athletic football team and make you defend the field. They have way more speed than anyone we've ever played with this style of offense."

Oregon comes in running an offense similar to that the Wildcats faced Sept. 2 against Utah - motions, spreads and an option attack used to slow down defenders' reaction times.

"It's going to be a difficult challenge, but we just have to come out ... and play error-free football," said sophomore defensive tackle Yaniv Barnett, who added it will be crucial for defenders to stay in their lanes and contain mobile Ducks quarterback Kellen Clemens.

Several Wildcats compared Clemens's running ability to that of Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards, who last week gained 32 yards on nine carries in a 20-16 victory.

No. 15 Oregon
(6-1, 3-1 Pac-10) at
Arizona (1-5, 0-3)

tomorrow 4 p.m.
Arizona Stadium

"It's just another thing to defend and another thing we have to prepare for, but we're not going to go at it any different than we did against Stanford. ... Hopefully, the results are better," said sophomore linebacker Spencer Larsen, who saw his first significant action of the season against the Cardinal, recording a team- and career-high nine tackles.

Clemens is averaging 30 yards a contest on the ground, but the Ducks have been more successful through the air.

Oregon is averaging 340 passing yards per game with receivers Demetrius Williams and James Finley, tight end Todd Day and running backs Terrence Whitehead and Jonathan Stewart.

Williams enters tomorrow's game eighth in the nation with 110 receiving yards per game, while Whitehead is the team's leading rusher and third in receptions.

Stewart, a true freshman and one of the Ducks' most athletic players, has scored five touchdowns in five games, including an 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Montana Sept. 10.

Arizona's defense has its hands full with the number of weapons on the Oregon offense but has last week's performance against Stanford to build on.

The Wildcats held the Cardinal to a Stoops-era-low 195 yards of total offense while besting Stanford in total yards, first downs and time of possession.

Arizona's main issue was turnovers, giving the ball away five times.

"You just have to forget about it and look forward to next week," said sophomore cornerback Antoine Cason.

"Eventually times are going to change," Larsen said. "We just have to keep plugging away, and eventually it will turn."



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