Passing marks for this duo
Publication Date: Wednesday Sep 20, 1995

STANFORD FOOTBALL: Passing marks for this duo

Butterfield and Harris look forward to Oregon after tying Wisconsin

by Keith Peters

Mark Harris has a lot to look forward to this weekend when Stanford opens its Pacific-10 Conference football season against nationally 12th-ranked Oregon. The last time this senior wide receiver played in Eugene, he caught 12 passes for 189 yards--both career highs. That was in 1993.

Harris nearly matched that performance Saturday as he latched onto 10 balls for 149 yards in Stanford's 24-24 intersectional deadlock with Wisconsin before home-opening crowd of 42,510 in Stanford Stadium.

Had Harris been able to haul in a 55-yard Hail Mary pass from quarterback Mark Butterfield on the last play of the game, Stanford would be 3-0 heading into Oregon.

"We're happy and mad," Butterfield said. "We didn't lose the game but we should have walked away with a win."

Still, Stanford is 2-0-1 and off to its best start since 1986. And Harris is most upbeat about the direction this year's team is taking now that Butterfield has solidified his position with career highs of 30 completions in 42 attempts for 335 yards and three touchdowns against Wisconsin.

"I played with Mark the last couple of years, and he's always impressed me as a quarterback who could throw well in any situation," said Harris, who caught his first collegiate pass from Butterfield in 1993. "I feel confident with him and always have."

Both players were in cameo roles when they hooked up for the first time two seasons ago. Butterfield was a backup to then-starter Steve Stenstrom and Harris was filling in for Justin Armour, out with a separated shoulder.

Neither saw much playing time last season, but both have blossomed this season as Stanford's passing game has improved each week. Butterfield ranks second in the Pac-10 and 28th nationally in total offense (232 ypg) and fourth in the conference and 26th nationally in passing efficiency (140.9 rating).

Harris, meanwhile, is approaching his 1993 career-best totals of 35 catches for 580 yards with his three-game '95 marks of 18 catches for 282 yards. Both totals have surpassed what he accomplished all of last year.

Harris enters this week ranked fourth in the Pac-10 and 15th nationally in receptions per game (6.0). He also is third in the conference in receiving yards per game (94).

Both flourished against Wisconsin because of the Badgers' seven-man defensive front. That limited Stanford's rushing attack to a season-low 94 yards. The Cardinal had been averaging 220 yards on the ground before Saturday.

"We knew with their front seven that we'd have to so something, pass-wise," Stanford head coach Tyrone Willingham said. That left things up to Butterfield, Harris, Greg Comella (two TD receptions) and others, as Stanford rallied each time Wisconsin scored.

"We were down seven points (on numerous occasions) and we did have the mettle to come back," Harris said. "We're a team of opportunity."

The opportunity that presents itself this weekend is hugely important. Stanford has not won its Pac-10 opener since beating Oregon, 21-7, in 1992 and has not won its opener on the road since edging Oregon State in 1986 in Corvallis. 

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