October 24, 2006

Five Players of the Game: Oregon State

Five Pac-10 games out of the way and Arizona is still sitting with just a single win. This past weekend Arizona needed big games from its star players in order to get the season back on track, however, many guys appeared absent.

For the third time this season, the player of the game for Arizona is senior punter Nick Folk. In no attempt to downplay Folk's talent, when a college team's best player is the punter they are going to struggle to win games.

1. Nick Folk: Folk holds the number one spot on the top five players of the game for the third time this season in a game that he single handedly allowed Arizona to control field position. Folk displayed his incredible leg strength on his career-long 78-yard punt. For the game, Folk had six punts, averaging 49 yards per punt.

Without Folk in the game, it is a safe assumption that Oregon State would have put up a lot more points and had many more opportunities to score. Every time the Arizona offense would kill its own drive in an attempt to wipe out any momentum the team might have had, Folk would give a little back with a big punt.

In addition to his great punting game, Folk connected on his lone field goal attempt on the game with three seconds left in the half from 30 yards. The Arizona coaches will have their hands full preparing one of the young kickers to replace Folk next season, because it is scary to think where Arizona would be without him.

2. Syndric Steptoe: Steptoe finally had the big special teams play that fans have been waiting for this season. It was a play that had so much significance to it because it put Arizona right back in the game, shifting the momentum towards the Cats.

However, once again the opportunity was soon lost but the senior wide receiver and special teams star did his best to give Arizona every opportunity to win. Steptoe returned the punt 67 yards for a touchdown in the second half in what was the play of the game. In addition to his special teams play, Steptoe caught two passes for 24 yards and ran the ball one time for 11 yards.

3. Spencer Larsen: Larsen is the only player on Arizona's roster consistently deserving of being mentioned as a player of the game. Larsen plays with so much heart and it is evident on the field. For the game, Larsen had eight tackles and one fumble recovery returned for six yards. There is not much to say about Spencer Larsen because his play speaks for itself game in and game out.

4. Ronnie Palmer - Palmer has had a rough season and despite many hopes of a breakthrough year, the young linebacker has not played up to his high expectations. However, he had perhaps his best game against Oregon State which was desperately needed.

Palmer was a big asset in stopping the run and had he had more games like he did earlier in the year the Beavers rushing totals would have been much higher. Hopefully Palmer is starting to hit his stride because the sky is the limit and the Oregon State game can be one that he bases his play off of in the future. Palmer led the Wildcats in tackles with 10 on the game including two tackles for a loss.

5. Chris Henry - It is imperative to make clear that Chris Henry had a great game as a wide receiver rather than as a running back. Arizona's running game will get no mention in the top five because of its complete absence so far this season, however, Henry did such a great job catching the ball that if used correctly he could be a huge weapon for Arizona.

Throughout fall camp, Henry did well as a receiver coming out of the backfield and when in the open field does a great job of making people miss, something he lacks in the backfield. Hopefully he continues to be used to his strengths which is catching the ball, rather than running with it.

Arizona is in desperate need of a receiver to step up and with the speed Henry possesses he could be a guy that makes a difference. For the game Henry led the Wildcats in receptions with eight for 87 yards.

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