Dice rolling up numbers

By Patrick Klein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Diceman keeps coming up sixes.

With two more touchdown catches in the Arizona football team's 30-10 win over Oregon State Saturday night, wide receiver Richard Dice kept his breakout season going. The redshirt sophomore now has five TDs in this young 1994 season.

"It's nice, I can't lie," Dice said of his numbers, which to this point in the season include 17 catches for 375 yards, highlighted by 7 catches for 136 yards against the Beavers this past weekend. "But my first incentive is to win, whether the ball is coming to me or not, it's not that big of a deal."

With Oregon State committing seven or eight men on the line to stop the Arizona running game, Dice found himself with single coverage most of the night, and quarterback Dan White found Dice.

Early in the second quarter, White and Dice hooked up on a 47-yard touchdown pass to boost Arizona's lead to 13-0. Late in the fourth, the duo connected again on a 34-yard scoring play.

"They were in man coverage," Dice said. "When I see single coverage my eyes light up. They played the safety shallow and it was two-on-two football for me and the receiver on the other side. That all starts with respect. I guess they didn't respect the passing game that much, figuring they could cover us two DBs on two receivers. I don't think it worked today."

What does seem to work is the combination of White and Dice, which has become one of the Pacific 10 Conference's best.

"I kind of like it," Dice said of his on-field relationship with White. "We're on the same page right now."

A perfect illustration of that was the fourth-quarter touchdown. On fourth-and-four, the route for Dice was supposed to cover 10 yards, but with single coverage, the play converted to a deep fade down the sideline. Both receiver and quarterback have to make the same read for the play to work.

"It was a simple conversion," White said. "It was supposed to be a 10-yard out, but the cornerbacks pressed and there was no safety, so it became a fade. He is a great receiver. He's got great speed, great hands and great size. You've got to get him the ball."

"He ran great routes and can really catch the football," Beaver head coach Jerry Pettibone said of Dice. "We had some well-defended passes tonight, but you've got to give Dan White credit and Dice credit for good passes and nice catches."

Of course, Dice is not perfect. On one of White's touch passes down the sidelines, the ball fell through Dice's hands in tight coverage.

"I'll be having nightmares about that one," Dice said. "I dropped the ball, so I'll probably hear about that all next week."

But when it counted, Dice was there. Facing a third-and-21 at its own six yard line late in the third quarter, Arizona was holding on to what seemed at the time to be a tenuous 20-10 lead, and it was in desperate need of a big play to stem the momentum that the Beavers were slowly building. White found Dice on a slant and the receiver dragged a couple of Beaver defenders for a 28-yard gain and the first down.

"They made some big plays tonight," Arizona head coach Dick Tomey said of White and Dice. "But frankly, the biggest play was that slant on third down. We were backed up and they were going to get great field position. I think that was probably the biggest play of the game."

Being looked to on third-and-long may not be a new role for Dice, but his sudden importance to the team is something he'd rather not dwell on.

"I don't think I'm neccessarily 'the man'," Dice said. "With my size it's easier for me to drag a defensive back that's say, 5-11, 180. So that's the reason they hit me (on the third down play), because I'm like a fullback out there."

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