The University of Arizona

Copper-Clad Cats to Host No. 18 Oregon State

Arizona Athletics | September 27, 2012
UA quarterback Matt Sott runs the ball during last week's game against Oregon. (Photos courtesy of Arizona Athletics)
UA quarterback Matt Sott runs the ball during last week's game against Oregon. (Photos courtesy of Arizona Athletics)

Unbeaten and 18th-ranked Oregon State will visit Arizona for a Pac-12 showdown on Sept. 29. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be shown live on the Pac-12 Networks.

Jake Fischer
Jake Fischer
Sione Tuihalamaka
Sione Tuihalamaka

The September slate will come to a close with the second weekend of conference play on Sept. 29 when No. 18 Oregon State visits Arizona. The game will begin at 7 p.m. MST and will be shown on the Pac-12 Networks.

The UA will pay tribute to its state and the rich mining history by donning copper helmets. Copper has influenced architectural design on the UA campus, including the ring at the top of the McKale Center and soon the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility. Coincidentally, the Copper Game falls on Sept. 29, a number that happen's to be copper's atomic number.

The Pac-12's longest-tenured coach, Mike Riley, will bring his nationally ranked squad to the Old Pueblo to meet one of the league's newest coaches, Rich Rodriguez, whose Wildcats fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last weekend.

Rodriguez and company will take on the unenviable task of playing a ranked team for the second straight week and the third time in five games. After being shut out in the conference opener, can the Cats will regroup for a pivotal matchup between interdivision conference foes?

For them, it's not back to the drawing board as much as it back to the practice field where the foundation continues to be laid in Rodriguez's initial campaign. The UA has had no trouble moving the football but needs to be more proficient in the redzone, a matter underscored daily in practice that has yet to come to fruition.

Can the UA passing attack, held under 300 yards for the first time in a full calendar year, find its rhythm after some hit-and-miss productivity in Eugene? And will the ground game, led by a veteran offensive line and a hard-nosed playmaker in running back Ka'Deem Carey, create the necessary balance?

On the flip side, Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 defense turned in a valiant effort against the high-flying Ducks to give the Cats every opportunity for the better part of two and a half quarters in Autzen Stadium. Now his unit faces a more traditional pro-style offensive system, which has found success through the air after two games.

Riley and the Beavers have enjoyed a run of success against the Cats over the last decade-plus, a trend the UA would like to reverse under new leadership after former head coach Mike Stoops was let go following a loss to OSU last October.

Both coaches and their staffs will wear patches for the American Football Coaches' Association's fifth annual Coach to Cure MD effort, which aims to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.

Last week, What was billed as a track meet turned into a an old fashioned defensive struggle in the first half before Oregon pulled away with relative ease in the second half to win 49-0.

The shutout was certainly a surprise given the Wildcats' ability to score points early in the season, but miscues and missed opportunities, notably on five redzone trips, doomed the upset-minded Arizonans.

The defense, though, gave the Cats plenty of chances, forcing the Ducks to give up the ball on four of its first five possessions. Even after Oregon went up 7-0 and seemed to be gaining momentum, the UA defense stiffened and held the Ducks to field goals on 17 and 16-play drives to close the first half.

The 13-0 halftime deficit kept the Cats within reach, but Oregon's defense stole the show and forced the UA to punt on its first four possessions of the second half, before three interceptions in the next four drives squashed any hope of a comeback.

In the meantime, UO's electric De'Anthony Thomas was held to 97 all-purpose yards in the contest, but his 36-yard punt return set up a quick score midway through the third quarter as the Ducks began to pull away. Two interception returns for scores inflated the scoreboard tally and took some credit away from the UA defense, which did hold the Ducks to 4.3 yards per carry – a good standard against a team that entered the contest averaging 6.2 yards per tote.

Arizona's swarming secondary broke up nine Oregon passes, and Jonathan McKnight snared his third interception in as many games. Jared Tevis led the way with 12 tackles, two breakups and two forced fumbles, while Sir Thomas Jackson set a career high with 10 tackles and Tra'Mayne Bondurant also added 10 stops, including a career-best 3.0 for loss.

Offensively, Matt Scott struggled with a career-high three interceptions, while Carey was held to 79 yards on 21 rushes. David Richards was the leading receiver, with career-highs for catches (7) and yards (50).

Next Up: Game time and television broadcast information has been set for Arizona's game at No. 6 Stanford on Oct. 6. The contest is scheduled to begin at noon PDT and will be televised nationally on FOX.

It will be a full seven hours earlier than any of the UA's first five games, which have all begun at 7 p.m. local time or later. Arizona's one and only bye weekend will follow (Oct. 13), before the Wildcats return to action against Washington on Oct. 20 for Family Weekend.