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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Heavner next in quarterback line

    Arizona quarterback Kris Heavner calls out an audible during the second half of Arizonas 20-7 win over Stanford at Stanford Stadium. Heavner was named the starting quarterback for the Oregon State game and will make his first start since 2004 after transferring to Baylor and back to Arizona.
    Arizona quarterback Kris Heavner calls out an audible during the second half of Arizona’s 20-7 win over Stanford at Stanford Stadium. Heavner was named the starting quarterback for the Oregon State game and will make his first start since 2004 after transferring to Baylor and back to Arizona.

    Two years to the day that Kris Heavner lost Arizona’s starting quarterback job, he regained it.

    UA head coach Mike Stoops announced yesterday at his weekly press conference that Heavner, who started the season as the team’s No. 3 quarterback, would get the nod under center in place of injured starter Willie Tuitama (concussion) and backup Adam Austin (knee) Saturday against Oregon State.

    “”It’s funny how things work out,”” Stoops said. “”Kris started (14) games in his career, so I think he’ll be much improved with all the experience that he’s been through.””

    Austin, who injured the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in just his second career start during Saturday’s 20-7 win over Stanford, had an MRI yesterday to examine the extent of the damage. Stoops didn’t immediately know the results but ruled the redshirt senior out this week.

    “”It’s his MCL, (but) that mends pretty good,”” Stoops said. “”It’s just going to be a time factor with him.””

    In five games this season, Austin threw for 405 yards while completing 53 percent of his passes to go along with his first career touchdown pass two weeks ago against UCLA. He also had a 1-yard score on a sneak against Stephen F. Austin Sept. 16.

    Tuitama’s status, meanwhile, remained up in the air. The sophomore, who hasn’t played since suffering his second concussion in a month in the game against the Bruins, will be evaluated daily.

    “”He hasn’t been cleared. That’s really where we’re at,”” Stoops said. “”We’ll take it day to day.””

    Heavner started eight games as a true freshman under former head coach John Mackovic, setting UA freshman records in yards passing (1,501), completions (101) and attempts (237). His eight touchdowns also tied a school record for a freshman.

    Then, after starting the first six games in Stoops’ first season, Heavner lost the starting job to former UA quarterback Richard Kovalcheck in 2004’s 28-14 loss to Oregon and briefly left the program following a transfer to Baylor.

    He spent most of the spring of 2005 in drills with the Bears but returned to Tucson in the fall with hopes of making the Arizona baseball team as a pitcher. Things didn’t work out on the mound, and Heavner rejoined the football team last spring, where he assumed the third-string role at quarterback.

    “”What’s he have to lose? You know, go out and play,”” Stoops said. “”We’re in a situation where we’ve got a great opportunity to win. It just isn’t the best situation.””

    “”He’ll compete,”” Stoops added of Heavner. “”I’m not worried about that. We’ve just got to make sure we’ve got a solid game plan around him.””

    Should Tuitama also be ruled out of backup status against Oregon State, the second-string quarterback would likely be freshman Tyler Lyon, a native of Newhall, Calif., who is redshirting.

    “”We talked to the family, and (pulling a redshirt) is just part of it, it’s part of being a team,”” Stoops said. “”Hopefully we don’t have to, but if we do, then I think you’ve got to look at the situation, where we’re at in the game and everything. You take all that into consideration.””

    Stoops added that pulling a redshirt “”really hurts the player after a certain time.””

    “”If he plays one snap, two snaps, 10 snaps, he loses a whole year,”” Stoops said. “”To me, that’s just hurting the player.””

    With the offense already somewhat restricted because of the injuries to Tuitama and Austin, play-calling options would narrow even further if Heavner also went down.

    “”(Lyon’s) package would be even limited more if we got to that situation,”” Stoops said. “”He’s just young, and you can’t ask him to do a whole lot. We’d simplify things, but I think he’d do well.””

    Wideouts Syndric Steptoe and Anthony Johnson, both of whom played quarterback in high school, are the team’s emergency quarterbacks.

    Michael Johnson playing hurt

    Arizona’s quarterbacks haven’t been the only ones slowed by injuries in recent weeks.

    Even though he’s played in every game this season, safety Michael Johnson hasn’t practiced for the past three weeks because of a pulled quadriceps that got so bad the senior “”could barely bend his leg all the way,”” Stoops said.

    “”But it didn’t deter him from playing, so I’m really proud of him for going through that and doing that,”” Stoops said. “”He put the team in front of his individual career, and that’s the kind of guy he is.

    “”It could’ve been real easy for him to say, ‘No, coach, I’m not going to play.'””

    This week, Johnson, who is second on the team in tackles (39) and interceptions (1), is expected to be close to 100 percent.

    Mark Stoops garners national award

    Three days after his defense held Stanford to their all-time low in yardage, UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was named coordinator of the week on the defensive side of the ball by a national panel of former football coaches.

    Stoops, whose defense limited the Cardinal to just 52 total yards, was selected for the award by the Master Football Coaches Survey.

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