Joseph Perkins meant it as a joke.
As the Arizona Wildcats prepared for tonight's game against No. 1 Oregon, Perkins, a senior safety known for his sense of humor, suggested coaches craft giant signs with crossed-out ducks on them.
His suggestion almost stuck.
"We talked about it," linebacker Derek Earls said, "but I don't think we're going to do it."
After all, players said, absurdist signs with desecrated waterfowl on them might mean the same thing as the Ducks' elaborate - and kitschy - means of signaling plays.
Oregon coaches hold up abstract four-panel signs, many of which are emblazoned with faces of ESPN personalities, random words like TOM and GLYCERINE and obscure images of eagles and the Burger King guy, before every offensive play. Tailback LaMichael James told the Star this week that the signs actually signal formation and snap count; the plays themselves are signaled in using hand signals.
Others, including Earls, aren't so sure.
The wacky signs could be pure gimmick, he said, designed to get the Ducks' highlights on "SportsCenter" while keeping a traditionally overlooked program in the news.
Ducks coach Chip Kelly is a pop-culture buff with a dry sense of humor; earlier this week, he referenced Will Hunting - Matt Damon's character in the movie "Good Will Hunting" and ESPN's bracketology - to explain points related to math and the Bowl Championship Series.
But the signs?
"We think they may be just trying to mess with us," Earls said. "But they've got to mean something, right?"
THE LAST TIME
Masoli stellar as Ducks won in double overtime
Date: Nov. 21, 2009
What went down: Jeremiah Masoli threw for a touchdown on the final offensive play of regulation and dived for the game-winning score, below, in double overtime as the Ducks defeated Arizona 44-41, snuffing out the Wildcats' Rose Bowl hopes.
How it read: Star columnist Greg Hansen praised Arizona's effort, even though it fell short during a frenetic fourth quarter and two overtime periods. Hansen wrote:
"It was as if Stoops and his staff had painted a masterpiece, effectively stopping Oregon's offense and, surprise, being the first team to score 30. But just as the signature was about to go on the canvas, someone spilled a Big Gulp all over what had once been a work of art."
Turning point: Masoli found tight end Ed Dickson for an 8-yard touchdown with six seconds remaining in regulation to extend the game. Arizona's students, many of whom had already stormed the field in anticipation of a historic win, were forced to return to their seats.
Stats that matter: Masoli was brilliant, though his statistics - 284 passing yards and 61 rushing - didn't necessarily show it. He rallied the Ducks on scoring drives of 79 and 80 yards in the fourth quarter before winning it with a dive in double-OT. LaMichael James rushed for a game-high 117 yards, and Dickson finished with 63 yards and the tying touchdown. Decimated by injuries at running back, the Wildcats mostly threw. Quarterback Nick Foles completed 30 of 46 passes for 314 yards.
It's history: Oregon rolled through the rest of its season, earning a Rose Bowl bid, then losing to Ohio State. The Wildcats rallied to win their final two games, earning a berth in the Holiday Bowl.
Arizona's Douglas eager for another shot at Ducks
David Douglas remembers the last time he played against Oregon.
"It ate me up all off-season," he said.
Douglas caught two passes for 20 yards in last year's 44-41 double-overtime loss to the Ducks. He was forced from the game in the first quarter when a hit from Oregon safety T.J. Ward forced him to fumble and caused a painful hematoma on his right leg.
Arizona was facing first-and-goal at the Oregon 10 in the first quarter when quarterback Nick Foles found Douglas on a slant route.
Douglas turned upfield, got to the 2-yard line - and was crushed by Ward. The Wildcats' receiver fumbled into the end zone. Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews recovered it.
Douglas exited the game with a hematoma on his right knee that took three weeks to heal. Douglas said his right leg swelled "five or six centimeters" bigger than his left one.
Douglas returned to play in the Wildcats' Holiday Bowl loss to Nebraska but was held without a catch. He said he often thinks back to last year's game and how he could have helped a team that ended up losing in double overtime.
"It killed me in every way possible, but you've got to bounce back," he said. "It's motivation for me. I'm ready to get back at it this year."
Ducks have switched up uniforms in each game
As shoppers flock to the stores for "Black Friday," it's important to remember one key, but completely fake, clothing fact.
More outfits equal more wins. The Arizona Wildcats will take on Nike's darlings, Oregon, continuing one of the spookiest trends of the year.
The Ducks have worn 10 uniform combinations this season and are 10-0. Boasting a redesigned jersey and pants and a retro-inspired white helmet, the Wildcats have worn seven different uniforms - and won, you guessed it, seven games.
Both teams could break out new looks tonight. The Ducks, who have 80 available combinations boasting five helmets, could go with an all-yellow look designed to pop on television. Arizona hasn't worn its "storm trooper" look - white helmets, jerseys and pants - since last year's Holiday Bowl loss to Nebraska. Of course, that's probably a get-up they'll choose to forget.
Here's a look at each team's sartorial situation:
oregon's many colors
Opponent Helmet Jersey Pants Result
New Mexico Black Black Silver W, 72-0
Tennessee Green White White W, 48-13
Portland State Silver Green Silver W, 69-0
Arizona State Green White Green W, 42-31
Stanford Green Green Green W, 52-31
Washington Black White Black W, 43-23
UCLA Black Yellow Black W, 60-13
USC White White White W, 53-32
Washington Black Black Black W, 53-16
Cal White White Green W, 15-13
Different uniform combinations: 10
arizona's many colors
Opponent Helmet Jersey Pants Result
Toledo White White Blue W, 41-2
The Citadel White Blue White W, 52-6
Iowa White Red Red W, 34-27
Cal White Red Red W, 10-9
Oregon State White Blue Blue L, 29-27
Washington St. Blue White White W, 24-7
Washington White Red Red W, 44-14
UCLA White White Red W, 29-21
Stanford Blue White Blue L, 42-17
USC White Red Red L, 24-21
Different uniform combinations: 7
WEATHER OR NOT
Chilly temperatures, rain? So what, say Wildcats
Ricky Elmore knows today's forecast calls for temperatures in the 40s and rain.
He just doesn't care.
"I'm not going to wear anything else," the Arizona Wildcats defensive end said. "I'm going to go out and embrace the weather."
The Wildcats spent all week preparing for possible inclement weather in Eugene and packed cold-weather gear for the trip.
Quarterback Nick Foles even tried to talk his coaches into letting him practice with hosed-down footballs, just to get a feel for throwing in the rain.
While preparation is good, Arizona can't let the conditions affect its psyche. Left tackle Adam Grant, who grew up in Puyallup, Wash., chuckled at the prospect of cold, wet weather.
"Sounds like high school practice every day," he said. "Rain's rain. It's going to happen. It's a natural element.
"Here, we practice in 100-and-whatever-degree weather; there, they practice in the cold."
Coach Mike Stoops said 40 or 45 degrees isn't so bad.
"Shoot, compared to what these guys will have to face if they play in the NFL - there, it's bitterly cold," he said.