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October 1, 2012

Arizona punter earns Pac-12 weekly honor

After averaging 46.8 yards per attempt against Oregon State including a career-high 70-yarder, Arizona punter Kyle Dugandzic was named the Pac-12 Conference's special teams player of the week Monday afternoon.

Dugandzic punted five times for a total of 234 yards and set a personal single-game best with four inside the 20-yard line. His 70-yard punt also pinned the Beavers at their own 5.

While Dugandzic said the honor caught him a bit by surprise, the senior added that it was bittersweet because of the 38-35 loss last Saturday.

"It kind of made me a little happy but, at the same time, you kind of take it with a grain of salt because it was with a loss," Dugandzic said.

As for the long kick, he said that his longest was actually during his first spring game with the Wildcats after the Agoura, Calif., native transferred midyear from Ventura College after the 2010 season.

Known for his booming kicks last season, when he led the conference with a 46-yard average on 40 punts, the new coaching staff now has Dugandzic mixing in a few rugby-style pooch punts. Dugandzic said about "20, 25 percent" of punts come in the rugby variety.

"Either way is fine," Dugandzic said about the styles. "I prefer to just do a normal punt because that way I can just get it up in the air and then have a fair catch. But if [the staff] asks me to rugby kick, I'll do that also.

"(Head coach Rich Rodriguez) just sort of mixes it up, whatever he's feeling."

Morrison the third-string QB

When starting quarterback Matt Scott rolled his ankle last Saturday while being tackled from behind, he was briefly taken out and missed just one play.

But instead of backup signal caller B.J. Denker, it was wide receiver Richard Morrison who lined up at quarterback.

Morrison is no stranger to the position. The junior played quarterback in high school and did not switch to receiver until 2010 spring camp after redshirting his true freshman year, when he served as the scout team quarterback.

But because of a lack of depth this spring, Morrison was given the opportunity to compete at quarterback - partly because the spread-option system fits his skill set. But injuries derailed those plans and he was moved exclusively to slot receiver and punt return duties early in the fall.

Or, so it seemed.

Before the game against the Beavers, the Royse City, Texas, native was spotted warming up with running back Kylan Butler and the rest of the third unit.

"B.J.'s our second quarterback, but Richard also can do more just in the run game," Rodriguez said. "He can do a lot of the pass game, too.

"With Richard, it's now a situation we want to get him honed up and ready to go. He probably is our third quarterback, per se, because we're trying to redshirt the freshman, (Javelle Allen). Every day we give him reps in the offense a little bit at quarterback so he knows exactly what we want to do in there."

Wharton's role to increase

With senior starter Terrence Miller out for the past two weeks because of various injuries, David Richards moved into the starting lineup and the rest of the receiving corps has moved up the depth chart, accordingly.

Among those who received more playing time against OSU was sophomore speed threat Garic Wharton, who was moved from the slot to the outside in the offseason.

"He played a little bit," Rodriguez said of Wharton. "I actually thought we would wind up getting him in more. He's practiced really well, and he's one of the fastest guys on the team. So I think you'll see Garic more and more, starting with this week."

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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