No. 7 Football Prepares for Arizona
Oct. 2, 2001
BACK TO THE PAC . . . Oregon looks to equal its best overall start in 37 years while jumping out to a 2-0 advantage in league play for the third time in four seasons. The Ducks return to the scene where their quarterback began his string of amazing comebacks two years ago as Joey Harrington carries an 18-2 record as a starter into Saturday's nationally televised cablecast. The offense looks to take another step toward reaching its offensive potential while the defense hopes to strengthen its 'bend-but-don't-break' mentality. Oregon may be forced to test the limits of its depth after surviving its latest challenge without its two starting wide receivers in the second half of its latest win. One of the program's most decorated defenders ever returns to play in front of a home-state audience for the final time as a collegian.
NATIONAL RANKINGS . . . After breaking into this year's pre-season rankings for the first time ever, the Ducks are tabbed No. 7 in this week's Associated Press poll and eighth in the USA Today/ESPN voting. Oregon climbed to an all-time high of fifth last season by AP before dropping the regular-season finale at Oregon State.
HEAD COACH MIKE BELLOTTI . . . Ranking third on the Ducks' all-time winningest coaching list (53-22-0), Mike Bellotti now stands as the winningest active coach in the Pac-10 based on conference winning percentage in addition to leading Oregon to more overall victories during his tenure than any other program in the league. Oregon's seventh-year head coach has accumulated a 31-18 record in Pac-10 encounters (.633), which moves him into 15th all-time among conference circles in terms of career winning percentage and tied for 20th in career league victories. He has played a vital role in assembling better than 18 percent (92 wins) of the University's all-time triumphs (495) in his 13-year Oregon association (six as offensive coordinator and seven as head coach). Only Hugo Bezdek (72.7% -- 1906, 1913-17) has accumulated a better winning percentage than Bellotti's 70.7% among the program's mentors who have coached the Ducks a minimum of three seasons. The 50-year-old former Cal State-Chico mentor owns a 12-year career head coaching mark of 76-47-2.
WHO COULD HAVE KNOWN . . . When an untested Oregon backup quarterback stepped onto the Arizona Stadium field with 6:58 remaining in the third quarter of the 1999 meeting and the Ducks and Wildcats tied at 27-27, few could have envisioned the impact that Joey Harrington would have on his school's future. Not only would it mark the first of eight Harrington-led comebacks, Oregon has since gone on to victories in 13 of 14 Pac-10 encounters.
20 of 22 . . . Since the Ducks closed the 1999 season with six straight wins to go along with last year's 10-2 ledger, no other Division I school in the country has posted a better record over the past 22 games. In fact, the current stretch is the Ducks' most successful span in the school's 106-year history. The four other schools to equal Oregon's current pace are Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.
SEASON REVIEW . . . A 2-yard scoring plunge from Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington with 4:03 remaining to play as well as two defensive stands proved to be enough to overcome 22nd-ranked Wisconsin, 31-28. The Ducks' defense allowed Badger quarterback Jim Sorgi to complete only one of his last six pass attempts in addition to forcing one fumble over the final seven minutes of the game. . . . . The Ducks broke free from a 10-10 deadlock with 1:16 remaining in the first half and sealed the win with a fourth-quarter score to defeat Utah, 24-10. Despite possessing the football more than 10 minutes less than the Utes, Oregon's defense limited the visitors to only 37 yards rushing in the second half while holding them scoreless four times into Oregon territory during the final 30 minutes. . . . . . A 61-yard drive in 44 seconds provided the backdrop for Joey Harrington's eighth fourth-quarter career comeback as the Ducks rebounded for a 24-22 win over USC. Oregon watched its21-6 advantage slip away into a 22-21 deficit as three plays accounted for 213 of the Trojans' 451 yards of offensive output. . . . . The school's top rushing total in three years and four interceptions proved enough to pace Oregon's first road win of the season and a 38-21 victory over Utah State. Maurice Morris rushed for a single-game high 175 yards and Joey Harrington completed 17 of 24 passes for 261 yards and two scores while cornerback Steve Smith picked off his fourth pass in two weeks.
SERIES RECORD . . . Oregon has grabbed a 14-12 series lead by virtue of winning six of the last seven meetings between the two schools. Arizona holds an 8-5 advantage in games played in Tucson, however the Ducks have claimed two of the last three games played in Arizona Stadium. Five of the last seven games have been decided by seven points or less, including each of Oregon's last two victories.
THE LAST TIME . . . A stingy Oregon defense made its two first-half touchdowns hold up as the seventh-ranked Ducks posted a 14-10 win over #21 Arizona, 14-10. Quarterback Joey Harrington completed only nine of 22 passes for 123 yards, however two of the completions tallied 45 yards and resulted in touchdowns to wide receiver Marshaun Tucker. Maurice Morris rushed for 114 yards while the defense held the Wildcats to only 17 yards on the ground in the battle of previous conference unbeatens.
CLOSE CALLS . . . As a testament to the composure Mike Bellotti has handed down to his players throughout the years, his Oregon teams have compiled a 27-8 record in games decided by a touchdown or less since the start of the 1995 season. Oregon is 13-1 in games at home that have come down to seven points or less and 14-7 under the same circumstances away from home. Seven of the last 12 Oregon games have been decided by that thin margin, with the Ducks reigning victorious in all of them.
OUT OF THE GATE . . . Four times during Mike Bellotti's seven-year Oregon head coaching tenure have the Ducks won their first three games of the season, yet only twice (1998 and 2001) was that string stretched any further. In fact, 1998 marks the only time Oregon has started the season with five consecutive victories since 1964's six straight triumphs. The program has opened the gate with five or more triumphs in row on only five previous occasions (1998, 1964, 1959, 1933 and 1930).
LAND RUSH . . . One of Oregon's struggles in the early going has consisted of its desire to run the football with more efficiency. Heading into last week totalling only 322 yards on the ground through its first three games of the year, the Ducks were able to post their best single-game total since 1998 (307 yards vs. Stanford) with 289 rushing yards a week ago at Utah State.
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE . . . While Oregon's success at home has been fairly well documented (owning the nation's second-longest winning streak at 23 games in a row), its relative success on the road has gone unnoticed. In their seventh season under Mike Bellotti, the Ducks have recorded a 20-16 record away from Autzen Stadium. Yet since midway through the 1999 campaign, they have posted a success rate of 7-2. His record includes a perfect 5-0 regular-season worksheet during his first season at the Oregon helm in 1995.
'THE GENERAL' . . . Whether it is the respect he has earned in mounting numerous comebacks or his knack for raising the level of performance from those players around him, the moniker is one of several synonymous with Joey Harrington. Possessing the demeanor of a point guard on the basketball court, the Portland, Ore., native doesn't care who receives the credit for the team's success. Just so long as he is able to distribute the football into the hands of players to make plays. Only eight times in his career has he completed 20 passes or more in a single game. Four times he has thrown for over 300 yards in one day. Only three times has he thrown for four touchdowns or more in one outing. What he does rely on is an understanding of the game as well as an intellect which fuels his desire to win. In his 22 collegiate appearances of significance, players have rushed for 90 yards or more on 14 occasions while receivers have hauled in passes for 100 yards or more 14 times. And offenses have averaged 29.9 points (657) and 408.6 yards (8,990) per game (although he came on for second-half relief in his first two major appearances of his sophomore year).
CAPTAIN COMEBACK . . . Quarterback Joey Harrington has brought the Ducks back from fourth-quarter deficits eight times during the past three seasons and has accumulated an 9-1 ledger in games decided in the final 15 minutes. (Oregon never trailed in the fourth quarter vs. Texas in Holiday Bowl win, only tied.) His latest heroics occurred two weeks ago in a 24-22 win vs. USC, marching the Ducks from their own 24-yard line in 44 seconds to set up the winning 32-yard field goal with only 12 seconds remaining to play. The Portland, Ore., native wasted little time in creating an identity for himself, coming off the bench to direct come-from-behind wins over Arizona and Arizona State in 1999. Those performances helped earn him the starting nod in Oregon's final four games his sophomore year, in which he repeated his magic in the Sun Bowl win over Minnesota. While receiving major playing time in six games two years ago, Harrington directed comebacks in three of them. Last year, he duplicated his fourth-quarter magic against Arizona State, Washington State and California. He added this year's win over Wisconsin to his list of heroics. His only appearance when Oregon allowed a fourth-quarter lead to slip away was in last year's loss at Wisconsin. Listed below are some of Harrington's most notable comebacks:
MOVING UP THE CHARTS . . . Joey Harrington's 1,403 yards passing over the last five weeks a year ago along with his 947 yards this year helped move him past such Oregon notables as George Shaw, Bob Berry and Tony Graziani on the school's career passing and total offense charts. He now needs 55 passing yards to pull ahead of Akili Smith on the school's all-time ledger.
NATURAL PEDIGREE . . . Joey Harrington wasn't the first quarterback in his family nor will he be the last. His father, John, lettered for the Ducks from 1967-69 while primarily serving as a backup signal-caller for three years. He completed 81 of 203 passes for 1,130 yards and eight touchdowns. Joey's younger brother, Michael, is a first-year freshman quarterback at Idaho.
HARRINGTON WINS II . . . Former Oregon quarterback greats Bill Musgrave (1986-90) and Bob Berry (1962-64) are acknowledged as the Ducks' most successful signal callers in terms of generating victories, with Musgrave accumulating a 25-10 record (.714) in games he started and finished, while Berry was responsible for leading Oregon to a 21-8-1 ledger (.717). Joey Harrington may have some catching up to do in terms of number of wins, yet his winning percentage as a 18-2 starter (.900) remains unsurpassed.
TOUCHDOWN JOEY . . . With his eight touchdown passes in his first four weeks of the season, Joey Harrington has moved into fifth on Oregon's all-time list and a tie for 29th on the Pacific-10 Conference career TD passes list with USC's Brad Otton (1994-96).
IN THE FOURTH QUARTER . . . Although his numbers may be overshadowed by his winning percentage, Joey Harrington's fourth-quarter stats demonstrate his penchant for performing under pressure. In his 10 appearances where games have been decided in the final period, he has completed close to 56 percent of his passes (66-118), compared to his career completion percentage of 53.4 percent. In addition 30 percent of his total career passing yards have come in the fourth quarter (1,443 of 4,881), as have better than 27 percent of his total touchdown passes (11 of 40). Listed below are his career fourth-quarter statistics in games decided in the final stanza as well as those same numbers for this season:
G Com.-Att.-Int. Yds. TDs Career 10 66-118-3 1001 8 2001 2 10- 20-1 116 0
TOUCHDOWN STRING . . . Joey Harrington has thrown for at least one touchdown in each of his last five games, 11 of his last 12 and 18 of his last 22 contests. In the four games he failed to do so, he ran for a TD in three of them. The only game he was unable to account for a score was in the 1999 win over Oregon State.
INTERCEPTION VOID . . . After throwing a pair of interceptions in Oregon's season opener vs. Wisconsin, Joey Harrington has now endured 92 attempts (58 completions) without repeating an errant throw. His longest error-free span at Oregon extended for 120 attempts and 63 completions (Idaho, UCLA, Washington and USC) during the 2000 season.
CLUTCH PERFORMER . . . Despite completing only 79 passes in his first four appearances of the 2001 season, 48 of Joey Harrington's aerials (60.8%) have resulted in either first downs or touchdowns.
DAVEY O'BRIEN QUARTERBACK AWARD . . . For the second year in a row, Joey Harrington has been one of 30 candidates chosen for the preseason watch list for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, which is given annually to the nation's top college quarterback. The list will be narrowed down to eight semifinalists in early November before the winner will be announced Dec. 6 in Orlando, Fla. Harrington, who advanced as one of last year's semifinalists, is one of four candidates from the Pac-10 which includes California's Kyle Boller, USC's Carson Palmer and Oregon State's Jonathan Smith.
CHRONICLING THE COMEBACKS . . . Listed below are brief synopsis of the Ducks' nine victories decided in the final quarter during the Harrington era:
Oregon 24, USC 22 (Sept. 22, 2001)
Trailing 22-21, Oregon gains possession on its own 24-yard line with 56 seconds and one timeout remaining. Harrington connects on five of six passes for 61 yards on the final drive, which ended with a 32-yard field goal with 12 seconds left from Jared Sigel.
Oregon 31, Wisconsin 28 (Sept. 1, 2001)
Harrington caps 78-yard, nine-play drive in 2:34 with 2-yard TD run with 4:03 remaining in game. During the drive, he completes two of three passes (48 yards), runs for seven yards, converts one third-and-10 situation, and scores on fourth-and-one.
Oregon 35, Texas 30 (Dec. 29, 2000 - Culligan Holiday Bowl)
With game tied 28-28 with 9:25 remaining, Harrington led eight-play, 68-yard drive which consumed 3:39. He completed all three pass attempts for 51 yards on the winning drive while ending the game throwing two TD passes, catching one and running for one.
Oregon 25, California 17 (Nov. 11, 2000)
Harrington completed two passes for 81 yards on the 79-yard drive (team lost two yards rushing), culminating with a 29-yard TD strike to Keenan Howry with 12:38 to play. The Ducks added insurance on Harrington's 1-yard run with 4:48 to play.
Oregon 27, Washington State 24 OT (Nov. 4, 2000)
Trailing 24-16, Oregon needed only two plays to digest 40 yards in 48 seconds to tie the score on Harrington's 38-yard aerial. He also completed the two-point conversion with 9:08 remaining before the finishing touches were applied with a 47-yard field goal in OT.
Oregon 56, Arizona State 55 2OT (Oct. 28, 2000)
Trailing 49-35 with 5:47 remaining to play, Oregon drove 83 yards in 10 plays, capped by Harrington's 32-yard TD pass at the 3:21 mark. (He completed six of eight passes for 76 yards on the drive.) The Ducks' following drive ended on the ASU 1-yard line, but ASU fumbled the ball back on its own 17 with 33 second left. Six seconds later, the Ducks tied the score at 49-49 on a 17-yard pass to Justin Peelle. Harrington completed an 18-yard pass and ran for another six yards to set up Allan Amundson's winning 1-yard plunge. ASU countered with its own TD but failed on a two-point conversion.
Oregon 24, Minnesota 20 (Dec. 31, 1999 - Wells Fargo Sun Bowl)
With Minnesota holding a 20-17 advantage, Oregon mounted its winning drive from its own 13-yard line with 7:28 remaining. Harrington completed five of six passes for 51 yards, including the winning 10-yard strike to Keenan Howry with 1:32 left to play.
Oregon 20, Arizona State 17 (Oct. 30, 1999)
ASU grabbed a 17-13 lead with 1:04 to play before Harrington began at his own 21 with 58 seconds left. The reserve connected on five of eight passes (79 yards) vs. the league's best pass defense, including the winning 10-yard pass with nine seconds remaining.
Oregon 44, Arizona 41 (Oct. 23, 1999)
Making his first significant Oregon appearance, Harrington led a 3-minute, 55-yard drive to tie the score at 41-41 with 6:08 to play. The next 37-yard drive was capped with a winning 32-yard FG with 1:04 left, aided by Harrington's 4-yard run for a first down.
THORPE HONOREE . . . At 5-8, 185 pounds, Phoenix, Ariz., cornerback Rashad Bauman may not be the most intimidating-looking defender but he stopped letting that bother him long ago. The first-team all-conference defensive back and last year's third-team Associated Press All-American was at his best on a national stage for his role in the Culligan Holiday Bowl win over Texas. Already owning the school record for career interception returns for touchdowns (3), he begins his final season third on the Oregon all-time list for interception return yards (254) and tied for 10th in interceptions (10). Not only has he been annointed as a preseason first-team All-American by Football News, he has been added to the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation's top collegiate defensive back.
BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LIST . . . Oregon junior Keenan Howry is one of 30 of the nation's top receiving standouts as well as one of four in the Pacific-10 Conference who have been chosen as players to watch for the 2001 Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the top collegiate wide receiver in the country. He is joined by conference counterparts Todd Elstrom of Washington, Kareem Kelly of USC and Brian Poli-Dixon of UCLA as players under consideration for the nation's top collegiate receivers award.
WALK-ON WONDERS . . . While a lot has been made about the effects the 85-player scholarship limits has had on creating parity among the collegiate football ranks, one aspect that becomes forgotten has been the opportunities it has created for non-recruited players. Oregon has witnessed its share of success stories throughout the years but perhaps none so as prevalent as the coming season. The Ducks enter Saturday boasting no fewer than six players (five starters) among their two-deep who either began their Oregon careers without the benefit of athletic financial assistance or in some cases are still providing their own support through school. Opening-day offensive starters who fit that bill include Josh Line (FB), Dan Weaver (C) and Jason Willis (WR), while defenders Wesly Mallard (OLB) and Chris Tetterton (DT) each asked for a chance to demonstrate what they could do.
SURE-HANDED RECEIVER . . . Junior wide receiver Keenan Howry proved last season he was more than capable of stepping into the role as his team's primary target. This year, he has his sites set on something greater. Already on pace to become Oregon's career receiving leader after his first two years (81 catches, 1,232 yards and 10 touchdowns), he has caught at least one pass in each of his last 27 appearances. That consecutive receptions streak currently stands tied for the eighth-longest in the country with USC's Kareem Kelly. Having eclipsed 100 yards in receptions four times during his collegiate career (three in 2000), his seven catches from this year's season opener was bettered only by his eight receptions on two occasions last season against USC and California.
100 CAREER CATCHES . . . With his two first-half receptions in Saturday's win at Utah State, Keenan Howry became the school's 16th player in school history to latch onto 100 receptions in his Oregon career. Only Bobby Moore (Ahmad Rashad) was able to reach that plateau faster, doing so in his 23rd appearance (vs. Nebraska in 1971). Saturday marked Howry's 28th collegiate contest. The Ducks' career receptions leader, Cristin McLemore, wasn't able to reach that 100-catch pinnacle until his 33rd collegiate appearance (at Utah in 1995).
GETTING UNTRACKED . . . Seeking to become Oregon's first two-time 1,000-yard rusher in school history, tailback Maurice Morris didn't exactly receive the boost out of the gate he would have liked. After running for only 18 yards while averaging 1.2 yards per carry in the season opener vs. Wisconsin, Morris found himself accumulating only 162 yards and one touchdown on the ground through his first three games in 2001 vs. the Badgers, Utah and USC. In his Division I debut a year ago, he found himself rushing for 166 yards and one score in one game. Whether it was because of a new offensive line combination taking longer than expected to jell or adapting to a slightly different role than last year that saw him average 23.8 carries per game (compared to 15.8 carries in 2001), last year's Pac-10 rushing runner-up (100.5 avg.) didn't exactly burst into his senior season as expected. Then came his collegiate-high 175 yards rushing at Utah State a week ago, which included a major college-best 69 yard TD run. In fact, Morris has gotten a little better as the season has wore on, upping his per-carry average to 4.9 yards vs. Utah, 5.7 yards vs. USC and 8.0 yards at Utah State in consecutive appearances.
AGAINST ARIZONA . . . Running for 114 yards vs. Arizona a year ago, Maurice Morris was able to put together back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts only once last season.
CAREER RUSHING CHART . . . Accumulating 1,525 yards rushing in only 16 games (95.3 avg.) in his Division I career, Maurice Morris finds himself one of 15 players in school history to run for more 1,500 yards as a collegian. Furthermore, he remains 51 yards shy of breaking into the top-12 on the Ducks' all-time list, and 16 yards away from surpassing Mel Renfro (1961-63) as the program's 14th-best ball carrier of all time. In addition, Morris is seeking to become only the third player in school history to average better 100 yards per game over the course of his Oregon career -- joining his two immediate predecessors Saladin McCullough (1996-97) and Reuben Droughns (1998-99).
OFF THE BENCH . . . Sophomore transfer Onterrio Smith provided the spark in the season debut's 31-28 win over Wisconsin that Oregon's coaches had envisioned when he transferred from Tennessee a year ago. And he did it again when he threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Justin Peelle two weeks ago in the 24-22 win over USC. But that didn't match last week vs. Utah State when he came within two yards of completing the Ducks' first 100-yard duo in seven years. The Sacramento, Calif., native was brought in to provide depth for the Ducks' running game and help alleviate the workload for starting tailback Maurice Morris. Smith ran for what was then a collegiate-best 88 yards in his Oregon initiation vs. Wisconsin. He topped that with 98 yards at Utah State. That marked the Ducks' best performance coming off the bench since Reuben Droughns ran for 202 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona in 1999.
TAG TEAM TROUBLE . . . Not since Oct. 15, 1994 have the Ducks sported more than one player rushing for 100 yards or more in the same game. Yet Maurice Morris (175) and Onterrio Smith (98) fell two yards shy of doing so. Their 273 yards marked the greatest accumulation by two players since Ricky Whittle (177) and Dino Philyaw (137) combined for 314 yards vs. California in '94.
FILLING BIG SHOES . . . One of Oregon's deepest positions in terms of quality depth no doubt happens to be at wide receiver. That makes the odds even more unlikely that a former walk-on could step into the vacated starting role held down by last year's regular-season receiving leader (Marshaun Tucker). Yet that's exactly what's asked of junior Jason Willis, who began this year with career totals of 22 catches (204 yards) in 22 appearances. Starting the Ducks' first four games of the year, he is asked to help compensate for the loss of 50 catches for 871 yards and six touchdowns from a year ago. Thus far the Ducks' receiving leader already has caught 20 passes for 249 yards, ranking fourth in the Pac-10 in receptions per game (5.0 avg.). He was credited with his first 100-yard receiving effort as a collegian after grabbing nine passes for 107 yards four weeks ago vs. Utah. He is still in search of his first TD reception despite running for a 4-yard score against Texas in last year's Culligan Holiday Bowl.
MORE DEPTH . . . Epitomizing the Ducks' depth at its wide receivers slots is the fact that both of Oregon's starters -- Keenan Howry and Jason Willis -- were unavailable in the second half of the Utah State game due to injuries. That brought sophomore Samie Parker and redshirt freshman Keith Allen onto center stage. Allen pulled through with a team-high four catches for 92 yards (all in the second half) while Parker hauled in three passes for 54 yards (all in the first half).
A-PEELLE-ING . . . Few positions have made a greater impact on Oregon's long-term success then at tight end, with no fewer than five former Ducks making their way into the NFL during the decade of the 90s. Jeff Thomason (1988-91), Willy Tate (1991-93), Josh Wilcox (1993-96), Blake Spence (1994-97) and Jed Weaver (1996-98) all were beneficiaries of a system which relied on the tight ends much more than as an additional blocker. (Thomason remains in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles while Weaver is with the Miami Dolphins.) Senior Justin Peelle is the latest in the line of standouts to come Oregon's way, ranking seventh in the Pac-10 in receiving yards per game (65.0 avg.). In addition, he already has matched last year's total for touchdown catches with five, working his way into the end zone twice vs. both Wisconsin and USC and once at Utah State. Living up to the tag line on his billboards around town -- 'Clutch' -- 12 of this year's 15 receptions have resulted in either touchdowns or first downs.
BUSY DEFENDERS . . . Whether its a sign that Oregon has a host of players who like to fly around the football or that its defense is spending too much time on the field, the Ducks boast of three of the top five individual tacklers in the league. Based on the average number of tackles per game, junior middle linebacker David Moretti paces all Pac-10 defenders with 10.7 tackles per game, followed closely by teammate Keith Lewis with 10.5 stops. Outside linebacker Wesly Mallard completes the trio tied as the league's third-best tackler with a 9.8 average.
PUT TO THE TEST . . . Receiving most of the brunt for an All-America candidate occupying the opposite side of the field is cornerback Steve Smith, with the opposition often throwing his way as the lesser of two evils. Accumulating honorable mention all-conference accolades a year ago, Smith rebounded vs. Utah after encountering sub-par results in the season opener against Wisconsin. In his last two games, the Rancho Palos Verdes senior has picked off four passes to share the nation's interceptions lead. Few players have been put to the test to the extent that Steve has as he has spent the majority of time covering the likes of Utah State's Kevin Curtis, who leads the country in receptions per game (10.5 avg.), as well as Wisconsin's Lee Evans, who is eighth in the nation in average receiving yards per game (114.0 avg.).
PASS DEFLECTIONS . . . Few defensive back tandems have enjoyed the success of swatting down the oppositions' aerials as Oregon senior cornerbacks Rashad Bauman and Steve Smith. Smith leads the Pac-10 with 11 passes defensed, while Rashad Bauman is tied for fourth with six deflections. That should come as no surprise as the duo tied for ninth and 11th in the nation, respectively, a year ago.
STANDING TALL . . . None of the Ducks' players have experienced the extent of emotions as senior cornerback Rashad Bauman. Breaking into the the starting lineup his second game as a true freshman, the 5-8 Phoenix, Ariz., native has long been Oregon's defensive mainstay as well as emotional leader. That's why it was tough to accept a knee injury during the spring of '99 which forced him to miss what was to be his junior year. Yet it's easier now to rationalize that his misfortune has turned into a blessing for the Ducks as he clearly is better now than he would have been had last year been his last collegiate campaign. Not only does he serve as the team's best cover defensive back, he ranked second on the squad in tackles in three of his last five appearances and is tied for fourth for the season through the first four games (26).
LONE SURVIVOR . . . Because of his distinction as the team's lone fifth-year senior who played as a true freshman, Rashad Bauman has experienced one thing that none of his teammates can relate to. Bauman stands as the only Oregon player who has played in a loss at home. He started against UCLA on Oct. 11, 1997, recording five tackles in the Ducks' 39-31 loss in their last home setback. Bauman will celebrate his 40th career starting assignment in front of family and friends as the Phoenix, Ariz., native returns to make his final regular season appearance in his home state.
PRESEASON FAVORITES . . . For the first time in the 41-year history of the conference's preseason poll, Oregon was chosen to win the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference title in a vote of West Coast media members who regularly cover the league. The Ducks garnered 20 of the 33 first-place ballots cast, with UCLA claiming 10 nods and Oregon State three. However the Beavers claimed more overall points in the poll to finish only behind the Ducks among the preseason predictions. Since the conference expanded to 10 members in 1978, the highest Oregon had previously been picked was third (1996 and 2000). Although the media has correctly predicted the eventual Conference champion on only 18 of 40 occasions, they have been right two of the last three years.
SHIFT OF POWER . . . With Washington, Oregon and Oregon State each claiming a share of last year's Pacific-10 Conference championship as well as finishing the season ranked in the nation's Top-10, it marked the first time since 1984 that threePac-10 schools enjoyed such lofting rankings as well as the first time since 1941 that three schools from the Pacific Northwest finished among the top three in the conference standings.
RAPID GROWTH . . . With Oregon returning only four starters from last year's defense, there was no secret the team would have to uncover key replacements in a hurry. If the first three weeks are any indication, the early reviews are favorable. Four of the Ducks' top six tacklers vs. Wisconsin were not considered starters last season, including leading tackler Keith Lewis. In fact, last year's special teams phenom and this year's starting free safety recorded more than half of last year's entire output of tackles in just one game vs. Wisconsin. Not only have his 42 tackles (18 unassisted) surpassed his totals from all of last year (23), his average of 10.5 tackles per game ranks second in the Pac-10 .
CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT . . . Not since 1994 has Oregon entered the year needing to replace both of its kicking specialists, yet such is the case this year. To take it one step further, none of the primary contenders were so much as on the Eugene campus prior to the winter term. Junior punter Jose Arroyo has demonstrated marked improvement this fall since making the transition from Pasadena City College. In his Division I debut vs. Wisconsin, the junior college transfer averaged a respectable 36.0 yards per punt, with three of his eight tries downed inside the 20-yard line. But since then, he has continued to get better each week. Arroyo averaged 42.3 yards on six punts vs. USC. Improving to seventh in the Pac-10 in punting (37.8 avg.), he has landed 10 of his 25 punts inside the 20 (six inside the 10-yard line) while only six of his kicks have been returned for a 6.3-yard return average.
INTO THE END ZONE . . . One of the Ducks' most improved aspects was its kickoffs, with Jose Arroyo booting seven of his 15 kicks to the goal line or deeper. Jared Siegel also has chosen to take part in the fun, booting three of his seven kicks to the goal line. That compares to only 12 of Oregon's kickoffs reaching the end zone all of last year.
ROLE REVERSAL . . . With eight returning starters, including one of the nation's most proficient quarterbacks, a returning 1,000-yard rusher and one of the school's top receivers of all time, it was the Oregon offense which was suppose to lead the way until a young defense was given time to mature. But despite the return of only four starters, the Ducks' defenders have more than held their own in terms of the bottom line -- keeping opponents out of the end zone. Although the Oregon defense is allowing 416.8 yards per game, it ranks fifth in the conference in scoring defense (20.3 avg.). At that current rate, it would mark the team's fewest points allowed since the Ducks' 1994 Rose Bowl contingent yielded 19.2 points per game.
WORKING OVERTIME . . . No team in the county has been nvolved in more overtime nail-biters than Oregon, which has accumulated a 5-3 record in such scenarios since the rule went into effect during the regular season in 1996. In addition, only Mississippi has been able to win as many overtime outings as the Ducks, with the Rebels also prevailing in five of its seven opportunities.
THE RED ZONE . . . Oregon's 2001 breakdown when it penetrates the opponents' 20-yard line remained perfect through the first two games of the year before encountering its first flaw against USC. A year ago, the Ducks were able to score better than 78 percent of the time they work their way inside the 20-yard line, with 80 percent of those scores resulting in touchdowns. Offensively, Oregon ranks third in the league in red-zone efficiency (90%), while opponents have slipped to 76.9%. UO OppHOME SWEET HOME . . . Oregon's status among the nation's best active home-field winning streaks remains second and has inched closer to the conference record. The league's longest home winning streak was set by California (26) from 1919-23. The Ducks already own the Pac-10 record for most consecutive conference home wins, which was extended to 14 with the win over USC two weeks ago. The following is a list of the nation's current successful strings:
Wins - School - Last Loss
37 - Florida State - Miami (17-16), Nov. 16, 1991
23 - Oregon - UCLA (39-31), Oct. 11, 1997
17 - Fresno State - Nevada (27-24), Sept. 26, 1998
Florida State's next home game is Oct. 13 vs. Miami (Fla.).
MANY HAPPY RETURNS . . . While records have been hard to uncover, the Ducks haven't enjoyed many days any better at returning kickoffs than they did two weeks ago vs. USC, with Allan Amundson and Samie Parker combining to average 38.0 yards on six returns vs. the Trojans. Amundson returned four kicks, including two in excess of 60 yards, with his shortest effort being a 28-yard runback. Parker encountered returns of 25 and 22 yards. Ironically, the Ducks were unable to take advantage of the great field position and put together a score from any of the returns.
AMUNDSON RETURNS . . . One of the most overlooked weapons among the Ducks' arsenal may be junior tailback Allan Amundson. He is generally regarded as Oregon's third-best tailback behind Maurice Morris and Onterrio Smith, although he is the fastest. He has scored only three touchdowns in his Oregon career (none in 2001) yet has setup countless others (refer to last year's Holiday Bowl win over Texas). Perhaps he's most visable as the kickoff returner who ranked 24th in the country last season after averaging 23.9 yards per return. This year, he currently ranks eighth in the country (32.88 avg.) while breaking into the school's all-time top-10. Luckily for the Ducks, an ankle injury he suffered in the first half vs. Utah State doesn't appear as serious as was first feared, although his return Saturday would appear unlikely.
MORE STREAKS OF NOTE . . . Listed below are additional strings or records that Oregon has established:
CAREER STARTS . . . (2001 starts/career starts/consecutive starts)
Offense -- OL Jim Adams (3/23/0), OL Cory Chambers (3/8/3), OL Phil Finzer (2/2/1), OL Joey Forster (4/13/7), QB Joey Harrington (4/20/20), WR Keenan Howry (4/23/8), FB Josh Line (4/16/16), TB Maurice Morris (4/16/16), TE Justin Peelle (4/20/20), OL Ryan Schmid (4/23/16), OL Adam Snyder (1/1/0), OL Dan Weaver (3/3/1), WR Jason Willis (4/6/4).
Defense -- CB Rashad Bauman (4/39/16), DE Quinn Dorsey(3/3/0), DT Zack Freiter (4/9/8), MLB Garret Graham (1/2/0), FS Keith Lewis (4/4/4), OLB Wesly Mallard (4/6/5), DE Seth McEwen (4/11/5), ILB Kevin Mitchell (4/6/4), MLB David Moretti (3/3/2), CB Steve Smith (4/15/14), DT Chris Tetterton (4/4/4), DT Ed Wangler (1/1/1), ROV Rasuli Webster (4/14/14).
Kickers -- P Jose Arroyo (4/4/4), PK Jared Siegel (4/4/4).
BELLOTTI TO COACH IN EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME . . . Oregon's Mike Bellotti has been chosen as one of the head coaches for this year's 77th annual East-West Shrine Game Jan. 12, 2002, in San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park. He will be joined on the other sideline by Illinois' Ron Turner. The game will mark Bellotti's fourth all-star game appearance and his second in the Bay Area's Shrine showcase. He served as an assistant coach in the 1999 contest and has coached in the Blue-Gray classic on two separate occasions.
ACADEMIC PROFICIENCY . . . In the latest NCAA graduation report which covers incoming classes which began their studies during the 1994-95 academic year, Oregon fared quite well. Tracking athletes and non-athletes who received their degrees within a six-year span, 66 percent of the Ducks' scholarship athletes successfully earned their degrees, which compares to a 58-percent rate for all University of Oregon students. In addition, 70 percent of the school's football players graduated within the allowable span. In addition, Oregon stands as the only school in the conference to exceed 70 percent graduation rate of its football team each of the past two years in a separate study by the American Football Coaches Association.
CAPACITY CROWDS . . . For the second year in a row, the Ducks were forced to curtail the sale of season tickets, with the school reaching an all-time record of 30,276 season tickets on May 21. The only tickets remaining for the rest of the season are an allotment of 6,000 University student tickets which become available for pickup two weeks prior to each game. Even standing-room only tickets for the general public have been exhausted for the rest of the season. Oregon is coming off its 13th consecutive crowd in excess of the 41,698 seating capacity for the USC game two weeks ago -- a string which began when the Trojans visited Eugene on Sept. 25, 1999.
AUTZEN STADIUM EXPANSION . . . The University has completed the second of a three-phase project designed to add more than 12,000 seats and 32 luxury boxes to Autzen Stadium. The current phase of the $85 million project included the installation of a new NeXturf artificial playing service, the widening of the concourse surrounding the stadium perimeter to ease the flow of pedestrian traffic, and the relocation of mass transit locations. The additional seating is expected to be in place for the start of the 2002 season, increasing official seating capacity in excess of 53,000.