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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “If Heavner is injured, should Lyon’s redshirt be pulled?”

    PRO: Bowl aspirations give Wildcats no better choice

    How might Kris Heavner get hurt this weekend?

    Maybe he’ll fracture a finger taking a snap. Perhaps he’ll run into Chris Jennings in the backfield, trip, get his cleats stuck in the grass and twist an ankle.

    Morbid thinking, to be sure, but given the awful string of luck the Arizona football team has had in keeping its quarterbacks healthy – not to mention Stanford, Washington and UCLA the last three weeks – the idea is legitimate to discuss.

    Yet the consequences should Heavner go down are much more serious for the Wildcats than this discussion so far.

    With a pair of wide receivers as the next two guys on the depth chart, and UA head coach Mike Stoops hesitant to play true freshman Tyler Lyon, what should the team do if Heavner joins Willie Tuitama and Adam Austin as sideline observers?

    Arizona’s win over Stanford on Saturday answered that question: throw Lyon to the lions.

    Why? There’s still a slim chance the Wildcats will get a postseason berth, needing to win three of their last five games. The next two against Oregon State and Washington State are critical, with No. 11 California and No. 16 Oregon following.

    If Heavner goes down for a significant period in either contest, Arizona can’t – in good faith to the fans who have seen lots of losing under Stoops – throw in the towel just because it wants to give its quarterback of the future four years of eligibility instead of three.

    Stoops chose not to do that last year when he sent in Tuitama to relieve Richard Kovalcheck in an eventual loss to then-No. 15 Oregon.

    The Wildcats had five games to go after that contest, and Tuitama went on to reel off a pair of impressive wins over Oregon State and then-No. 7 UCLA.

    The result: no bowl berth, but much-welcome momentum for and excitement around the team in the offseason.

    Arizona has built off those good vibes this season by playing like a bowl team in spurts, and though it has shown many on-field flaws, it’s still in position to break an eight-year postseason slump.

    That’s not going to happen with Anthony Johnson or Syndric Steptoe behind center.

    Ryan Casey
    assistant sports editor

    CON: Pulling Lyon’s redshirt would be a waste

    Kris Heavner’s the guy. There’s no debate about that.

    But should the unthinkable happen – Arizona loses its third quarterback in three weeks – Tyler Lyon’s redshirt should remain firmly in place.

    Think about it. If Lyon is called upon this weekend, that means Heavner got hurt, which means a decent amount of time has already ticked off the clock – which in turn means Lyon wouldn’t even see action in a full game.

    Then consider the fact that the team has a bye week next week, time that could allow one of the injured quarterbacks to mend.

    So, potentially, Lyon’s redshirt could be burnt over less than one game. And, with a kid of Lyon’s abilities, you want him here as long as possible.

    “”Besides, I’m kind of curious to see what Johnson or Steptoe could to under center.””

    Willie Tuitama will be here for two more years. A wasted redshirt would place Lyon as a senior the year after Tuitama leaves.

    But if his redshirt remains intact, that means the job will essentially be Lyon’s to lose his junior year, allowing him two years to run the team.

    Sure, some will say he could redshirt next year, but chances are he’ll be needed in backup duty with Austin and Heavner’s eligibility expiring after this season.

    So pull the second-consecutive redshirt off a freshman more than halfway into a season? No way.

    (Besides, I’m kind of curious to see what Johnson or Steptoe could do under center.)

    Tom Knauer
    senior writer

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