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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    CB semifinalist for award

    Antoine Cason did not have a typical “”case of the Mondays.””

    After learning Sunday that he was chosen as the national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, he found out yesterday he was selected as one of three semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award.

    The trophy goes to the best defensive back in the country. The list was trimmed down from 12 yesterday. Joining Cason is Boston College’s James Silva and LSU’s Craig Steltz, both seniors.

    Cason was also named the Pacific 10 Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a punt 56 yards for a touchdown Thursday night in Arizona’s upset over then-No. 2 Oregon.

    Cason also had an interception returned 42 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. He became one of only two players this year to score a touchdown on a punt and an interception in the same game. He added five pass breakups and seven tackles.

    “”That’s an amazing day,”” Cason said of his recognitions. “”That just shows me I have to keep working because there’s something more to get. My goal is to win those things, and of course I’ve gotten some players-of-the-weeks awards and things like that, so that’s great, but to win the Thorpe I have to keep playing hard.””

    The player-of-the-week award was the fourth in Cason’s four years at Arizona but marked the first time he’s been honored on special teams.

    “”He’s very deserving, and I think he’s been slighted by a lot of people this year,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”It was good to see him really showcase his talents on a national stage.””

    “”Everyone’s telling me, ‘There’s no way you can lose it the way you’ve been playing,’ “” he said. “”Some of those guys get more exposure than we do here at Arizona, and I guess that’s a plus for them.

    “”I’m gonna keep working hard, and I’m confident that I’m gonna win it.””

    The winner will be announced Dec. 6 at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show in Oklahoma City.

    Larsen named defensive player of week

    The accolades keep piling up for Wildcat defensive seniors.

    Linebacker Spencer Larsen, regarded as the other half of the defense’s heart the last few years, won Pac-10 Conference defensive-player-of-the-week honors for the first time in his career.

    Larsen led the team with 16 tackles on Thursday’s Senior Night to give him 116 on the year. He leads the conference by 21 tackles.

    It is the fifth player-of-the-week award overall for Arizona this season.

    “”I see us senior captains working hard, getting those honors because we come out to practice and work hard and keep each other going,”” Cason said. “”That’s a good thing for the team.””

    Team readies for finale

    Three weeks ago, it seemed like Arizona’s hopes to reach a bowl game were down to a prayer. But after pulling off the inconceivable – beating Washington, UCLA and No. 2 Oregon consecutively – the hopes are alive.

    For the Wildcats (5-6, 4-4) to qualify for a bowl game, they would have to win against No. 6 ASU in the season finale Dec. 1. It may be a tall task, but they might have momentum and health in their favor.

    Arizona is one of the few Pac-10 teams without any major injuries. All of the teams at the top of the conference have dealt with losses of key playmakers. The Sun Devils’ biggest loss is the season-ending injury of Ryan Torain, the running back who was supposed to lead the conference this season.

    Stoops said the team will practice again today and tomorrow and take a long weekend off to allow his players to go home for Thanksgiving.

    “”I think the extra time helped us a great deal (with Oregon),”” Stoops said. “”We need to use the time the same way with Arizona State.

    “”We didn’t have this break last year. We came in off that three-game run and obviously didn’t react very well.””

    The Wildcats were 6-5 heading into last season’s Territorial Cup game already bowl-eligible, then lost 28-14.

    Here is one potential bowl scenario:

    UCLA has two games remaining, one against Oregon on Saturday and then at No. 11 USC on Dec. 1. The Bruins would have to lose their final two games for Arizona to receive a bowl bid, but UCLA currently holds the No. 5 spot in the Pac-10 standings.

    Arizona, alone at sixth, could qualify for the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31 (as the No. 6 team) or the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22 (No. 5 team).

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