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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Heisman hopeful a big threat

    Opponent Analysis

    Though the Arizona football team beat Washington three weeks ago, the memory of mobile quarterback Jake Locker is one it would like to forget.

    But the lessons it learned from Locker’s success are ones they will certainly need to remember to be competitive in tonight’s game against No. 2 Oregon.

    Locker rushed for 168 yards to complement his 336 yards through the air, as the redshirt sophomore shredded the Arizona defense for four touchdowns via big plays and simple scrambles.

    And it doesn’t get any easier for the Wildcats, who are facing a date with dual-threat quarterback Dennis Dixon, considered by many to be the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.

    “”We didn’t play very well, and Jake Locker had a big game against us, and Dennis Dixon obviously presents a lot of those same challenges,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”We are going to have to play much better if we want to beat Oregon.””

    “”We changed our whole game plan,”” he added.

    Dixon has put up Heisman-like numbers on the season – throwing for 2,074 yards with 20 touchdowns in addition to his 549 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground – putting the Ducks in prime position to take a spot in January’s BCS title game if they win the remainder of their contests.

    Oregon is fifth nationally in yards per game (510.5) and points per game (42.8).

    Dixon “”has gotten to this point by playing great football in a very exciting, innovative offense he makes go,”” said Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti. “”He is doing all the things necessary of a Heisman candidate. He is winning football games, he is a captain, he is a playmaker, he distributes the football and, obviously, I am very pleased for him and for us.

    “”He is one of the prime catalysts in our resurgence this year and he had to earn this, because he didn’t have as much notoriety coming into the season as maybe others, but I think he has just outperformed people.””

    Dixon is only a year removed from a season filled with mistakes and the pile of criticism that followed it. Last year, he threw only 12 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.

    Dixon has thrown only three interceptions this season.

    He now finds himself in the midst of a Heisman race in which no individual is considered to be the runaway favorite, unlike last year’s winner, Ohio State’s Troy Smith, who won the trophy by the second-largest margin ever.

    Dixon “”is deserving of any accolade, reward or any award he receives,”” Bellotti said. “”He is the same guy he has been. He is pretty excited about football and is excited about his teammates.

    “”I am certain it is exciting to be mentioned in that regard in terms of (the) Heisman. It is nice to be involved in the national champ picture. But those things go away pretty quickly if you don’t perform, and I think he is aware of that.””

    And the Wildcats are fully aware of what they will be facing.

    “”The biggest thing is that he’ll drop back, you’ll have everybody covered, and then he’ll still get like a 10-yard gain for a first down. That’s the most frustrating thing,”” said senior linebacker Spencer Larsen. “”You’ve got to just make sure you’ve got him accounted for and tackle in space.””

    -Mike Ritter contributed to this story

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