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CATCH UP ON THE COUNTDOWN BY VISITING: ARIZONA’S TOP 100 INDIVIDUAL RECORDS
Only 75 days separate us from the start of Rich Rodriguez’s fifth season, when the Arizona Wildcats football team plays Brigham Young on Sept. 3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
As is customary on this Web site, we will count down the days with an interesting element associated with each day. This year the topic is the top 100 individual records in Arizona’s storied football past.
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Keith Smith may not have gaudy passing yards statistics but he was as efficient as any quarterback to play at Arizona.
Compiling the list was no easy task, but it was feasible to do with the information provided in the record books by the Arizona media relations department, and we appreciate that.
In past years, we have counted down the top games and highlighted players and some of the top plays in Arizona Wildcats football history. A couple of years ago in our top 100 countdown, we showcased the 1914 team that was responsible for Arizona becoming the “Wildcats”.
Back to this year’s countdown of the top 100 individual records in the 117 years of Arizona football:
Highest Completion Percentage Season, 100-199 attempts, 68.5, Keith Smith, 1998 (113-165-7, 1,732 yards, 13 TD)
Keith Smith had only 52 incomplete passes in 165 attempts in the 1998 season in which Arizona went 12-1.
Keith Smith was a 5’10” quarterback but none stood taller with his capability at his position during Dick Tomey’s coaching career.
“I’ve never coached a quarterback better than Keith Smith,” Tomey told the Arizona Daily Wildcat in a 2002 article, two years after the end of his tenure at Arizona.
Often splitting time at quarterback with Ortege Jenkins in his career, Smith managed to remain focused and get the most out of his ability, especially in Arizona’s 12-1 season of 1998.
His Arizona-record 68.5 completion percentage that season came close to being second in the nation. He was only 15 attempts short of qualifying. He completed 113 of 165 attempts. His 174.17 passing rating in 1998 is a school record. He also holds the career mark with a 140.52 rating.
Tomey always said he wanted a quarterback who did not hurt his team’s chances by limiting mistakes. He would rather have that type of quarterback than one who passed for 4,000 yards in a season with a high number of attempts.
Smith was the epitome of what Tomey wanted the most out of that position.
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.