Freshman making the most of his opportunities

Despite little playing time, Wade tied for Pac-10 lead in INTs
2008-11-13T00:00:00Z Freshman making the most of his opportunitiesBy Ryan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 13, 2008 12:00 am  • 

Saturday's game will mark a showdown between the Pac-10 Conference's two interceptions leaders, the Arizona Wildcats' Trevin Wade and Oregon's Jairus Byrd.

Barring a UA blowout, only one of them will play.

Wade, a cornerback, has snagged four interceptions this season while playing in mop-up duty as a late-game substitute.

Wade's interception in the final moments of last week's 59-28 win over Washington State gave him the team lead in interceptions, and pulled him even with Byrd for most in the conference.

Byrd, a junior, has played in all 10 of his team's games. Wade has started just once this season — and was pulled for Devin Ross in the first half.

Most of his playing time has come in the final minutes of lopsided games.

"When I get a chance to go in, I try to do what I can to make plays," Wade said. "When I see a ball in the air, I tell myself, 'It's mine.' ''

UA coach Mike Stoops said Wade, a redshirt freshman from Round Rock, Texas, is making the most of his opportunities.

Coaches expect Wade and freshman Robert Golden to challenge for a starting job next season when senior Marquis Hundley is gone.

Golden may have the physical edge, but Wade — a 5-foot-11-inch, 175-pounder — seems to have a sense for the ball.

"Trevin understands the game very well, and his skills have gotten better and better," Stoops said. "He has a chance to be a very unique player around here for a long time. I love what he's doing."

Stoops said Wade's stats are more impressive considering he's played "probably 100 snaps" this year.

Wade puts the estimate at closer to 30 or 35 snaps.

"I wish I had 100 plays — that would be good," he said. "I'd do more with 100 plays."

Cats prepare for 'relentless' Reed

The Wildcats have faced many of the conference's top pass-rushers this season. They still might not be able to handle Oregon's Nick Reed.

The Ducks' 6-2, 248-pound senior leads the Pac-10 with nine sacks. His 14 1/2 tackles-for-loss are second in the conference; only his teammate, Will Tukuafu, has more (15).

"Nick's a very relentless player, and that's what you love about him," Stoops said. "He's quick and he's strong and he has all the attributes and experience that you love. It's his third or fourth year of starting, so he has a ton of experience to go along with some unique physical tools, too."

Stoops compared Reed to one of the UA's standout players, sophomore defensive end Brooks Reed. Both have been praised for their "motors" on the field.

Nick Reed's edge is experience. He has played in 48 consecutive games since coming to Oregon from Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School in 2005.

Nick Reed anchors a line that includes Tukuafu and tackles Cole Linehan and Ra'Shon Harris. That group is one of the Ducks' strengths.

"We've got so many good d-linemen," he said. "If we double-team somebody, then they're singling out somebody else. It gives us all an opportunity."

Extra points

● Wide receiver Mike Thomas said his left leg is feeling fine, and he expects to be 100 percent for Saturday's game. Thomas injured his leg against USC two weeks ago but played against Washington State without any issues.

Thomas said any possible cold weather won't be a problem: "Just rub some Icy-Hot on it."

● Ron Jackson has been practicing with the UA's scout team offensive line. He was moved from defensive end.

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