Wildcats On The Road To Face Washington Huskies
Oct. 15, 2001
- The Arizona Wildcats (3-3, 0-3 in the Pacific-10 Conference), close a two-game road swing with a contest in Seattle against the Washington Huskies (4-1, 2-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, in 72,500-seat Husky Stadium. Washington is ranked No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today poll and No. 15 by AP. The game will be produced by Fox Sports Net for live syndication on stations in 15 cities including KMSB-11 in Tucson, with Barry Tompkins, Warren Moon and John Jackson describing the play. A tape delay will be shown on Fox Sports Northwest at 3 p.m. Sunday. A capacity crowd is expected.
Some Game Themes
- The Cats face the challenges presented by a ranked team with an 11-game home-field winning streak, while carrying the baggage of their own eight-game Pac-10 losing streak... The Huskies, a young, undefeated Top-10 team a week ago, return home with more perspective after losing 35-13 to the league's most veteran club in Pasadena... Both teams can look to their Idaho game earlier in the year for some direct comparisons -- UA beat the Vandals 36-29 while Washington took them apart 53-3... Arizona, which never opened 0-3 in Pac-10 play before this year, wants to put one in the left-hand column...
-- Washington leads the series 12-4-1, giving the Huskies the second-best winning percentage (.735) among UA league opponents (USC - .760). UW had a 4th-quarter come-from-behind victory last year in Seattle, 35-32, and has won two of the last three, four of the last five and seven of the last 10. Arizona's last victory came in Seattle in 1998 with a 4th-quarter come-from-behind victory, 21-28. Arizona is 2-7 in games played in Seattle, with the other victory a 16-13 rain-swept contest in 1988.
-- Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65), first year at UA (3-3) and 14th season as a collegiate head coach (88-66-3). He was the first new UA coach to open 3-0 since Jim Young did so in 1973, when Mackovic was UA's offensive coordinator and UA started 5-0. He has not coached against Washington. Mackovic was 0-2 against Rick Neuheisel's Colorado teams in 1996-1997. Washington: Rick Neuheisel (UCLA '84), third year in Seattle (22-7) and seventh year overall (55-21). Neuheisel is 2-0 against Arizona. Neuheisel's Colorado clubs in 1996 and 1997 beat Mackovic's Texas teams, 28-24 and 47-30.
-- The Wildcats avoided a shutout with a third-quarter field goal but otherwise barely threatened in an eighth consecutive Pac-10 loss, 38-3, at Oregon State. Statistics, numbers and momentum favored the home team throughout, but none really mattered except to underline the trend shown on the scoreboard at the end. Offensively, the UA squad had seven possessions of 3 plays (or less) and out, while its defense gave up 415 total yards and allowed itself to be pushed around up front. It wasn't all one-sided early, but again several miscues in the first quarter opened the window for the opposition. First, a UA fumble on its own 35 yard-line gave OSU good field position for a scoring drive. Then a UA punt was blocked and returned 24 yards for a score. Six minutes later UA quarterback Jason Johnson was intercepted in UA's half of the field to set up another quick scoring drive. At the half, trailing 28-0, Arizona had mustered -12 yards rushing and 43 total yards of offense on 25 plays. OSU had four times as many yards but simply had used the field-position gifts to take control. The Cats used an interception by Michael Jolivette to gain an opportunity in the third quarter but an 11-play drive stalled at the OSU 37 and the Beavers answered with their longest (65 yards) drive of the night. Finally, Jarvie Worcester's interception set up a short field for the Cats' field goal. The final score made it 149-52 against UA in its three league games, the most in the Cats' 23-year Pac-10 affiliation.
Arizona Head Coach John Mackovic
UA's 26th head coach, John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65) assumed leadership in December 2000 and quickly demonstrated his intent to take Arizona football in a new direction. He assembled a quality staff, completed a first recruiting class, installed a new offense in spring ball, then came out in the fall and won his first three games. He snapped a school five-game losing streak and became the first new Arizona head coach to open 3-0 since Jim Young did so in 1973 when Mackovic was an offensive coordinator on the staff. (Young went on to a 5-0 opening mark, UA's best for a new head coach.)
The Wildcats' 3-0 non-conference record in 2001 give him one of only three undefeated non-conference seasons Arizona has enjoyed in the past 11 years.
Mackovic draws on 17 years' experience as a collegiate head coach, athletics director or professional head coach, and from 15 additional seasons in coordinator or assistant positions in the trade. Further, he has three recent years' experience in the media as a college football analyst for ESPN. The transition year has progressed well and given Arizona a mentor with extensive offensive acumen and a strong network of colleagues in the allied professions. His professional and organized approach in assembling a staff, recruiting his first class and establishing the coaching processes for the 2001 Wildcat program has been exemplary.
Mackovic took over for 14-year Arizona coach Dick Tomey and switched gears in placing a primary focus on the passing game and its contemporary derivations, with a vision of Wildcat football as a program employing an attacking offense to go with what typically has been an aggressive Arizona defense. The learning curve was quick at the onset but has slowed as UA continues Pac-10 play. UA's first half of the season has demonstrated Mackovic's talent at play-calling and the fact the transformation of Wildcat football will not occur overnight.
Mackovic, 58, carries a 13-year collegiate record of 88-67-3. He took three of his last four teams (University of Texas) to bowl games and has led nine teams to winning records with eight bowl trips overall as a head coach. In 32 years of coaching he has held three college head coaching positions and one top National Football League spot (Kansas City, 1983-86, 30-34-0 record), served as offensive coordinator at three different Division I-A schools and worked as an assistant under former Dallas Cowboys' legend Tom Landry. He has Arizona bloodlines as Young's four-year offensive coordinator from 1973-76, heydays for prolific Western Athletic Conference offensive displays.
He has worked with and helped to develop such noted offensive players as Arizona's Bruce Hill and Theo Bell, Purdue's Mark Hermann, the Cowboys' Danny White, Illinois' Jeff George and Ricky Williams of Texas. Moreover, his emphasis on the total student-athlete can be underscored by eight national academic/citizenship honor winners including defensive end Eli Wnek's recent selection to the AFCA Good Works Team. Plus, Mackovic has fostered classroom progress which gave him nine overall first-team Big 12 All-Academic honors his charges earned during his tenure at Texas. Quite soon several UA players should join that list.
Mackovic is no stranger to honors. At Wake Forest as a quarterback he won the Atlantic Coast Conference Gold Medal Award and earned Academic All-America honors his senior year. Later at WFU as head coach in 1979 he earned Walter Camp Foundation National Coach of the Year, The Sporting News College Coach of the Year, AFCA District Coach of the Year and Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year. At Illinois where he also served as athletics director, he earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1988 and 1989. At Texas in 1995 he was Southwest Conference Coach of the Year and a national award finalist. In 1996 he was Big XII Coach of the Year by the Austin American Statesman after taking the Longhorns to victory in the inaugural Big XII title game over Nebraska.
Mackovic has stepped forward at each stop in his 17-year head coaching career to improve the programs he inherited. For that matter, in his first stint at Arizona as offensive coordinator (1973-76), he was part of a staff which improved UA from a 4-7 club to successive 8-3, 9-2 and 9-2 seasons. At Texas, the Longhorns were 5-6 the year before his arrival. His six-year mark: 41-28-2 with three bowl appearances. At Illinois, the Illini finished 4-7 before he arrived. His four-year mark: 30-16-1 with four bowls. At Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons were 1-10 the year before he took over. His three-year mark: 14-20 and WFU's first bowl appearance in 30 years. At Kansas City of the NFL, he took over following a 3-6 mark in a strike year and eventually led the Chiefs to a 30-34 record and their first playoff appearance in 15 seasons.
Mackovic is active in community service and has endowed an athletics scholarship in the name of his daughter, Aimee, at the University of Arizona, just as a similar endowment continues in his name at the University of Texas.
Washington and Match-up Notes...
University of Washington, Seattle: Enrollment 34,000... Colors - Purple and Gold... Conference - Pac-10... In 2000: 11-1
Washington's hold on fourth-quarter heroics diminished in DeShaun Foster's wake as the UCLA tailback rushed for 301 yards and four scores in leading the Bruins to a convincing 35-13 victory over UW in Pasadena on Saturday. The loss snapped a Washington 12-game winning streak, its longest since the 1990-91-92 Huskies won 22 straight before losing at No. 1 at Arizona in the 1992 season, 16-13... The fourth-quarter factor: eight of the UW victories in the recent streak were decided by a touchdown or less... Washington had not given up a rushing touchdown in 2001 prior to Foster's outburst... (Arizona has scored seven rushing TDs this year)... Soph quarterback Cody Pickett missed the UCLA game after separating his shoulder against USC and junior Taylor Barton was 22-of-44 for 316 with an interception and two lost fumbles... Husky RBs have not lost a fumble this year... UW has scored touchdowns by rush, pass, kickoff return, punt return, blocked field goal return and interception return. CB/returner Roc Alexander has two interceptions and two special teams touchdowns -- a blocked field-goal scoop and a 95-yard kickoff return... UW has played seven true freshmen including starting WR Reggie Williams, punter Derek McLaughlin and return specialist/flanker Charles Frederick. Williams is 22nd nationally with 87 receiving yards per game while Frederick is 5th nationally in punt returns with a 17.9 average, thanks to an 87-yard return for a score against Idaho.... Senior nose tackle Larry Tripplett, a unanimous All-American, has nine tackles for loss... UW place kicker John Anderson has made 33 field goals in his career, including three from 50 yards or beyond. His 32-yarder beat USC on the last play a few weeks ago. He popped one from 56 yards in his freshman season... Junior tight end Jeramy Stevens is considered one the league's top talents but broke his foot against Idaho and will miss several more weeks...
Cities/TV Stations Carrying the Arizona-Washington Game
-- Los Angeles-KCAL, San Francisco-KICU, Seattle-KCPQ, Portland-KWBP, San Diego-KUSI, Las Vegas-KVWM, Fresno-KMPH, Tucson-KMSB, Spokane-KRSM, Santa Barbara-KKFX, Eugene-KVAL, Chico-KCVU, Medford-KOBI, Palm Springs-KPSE, Yuma-KECY, Phoenix-KTVK, Santa Rosa-KFTY.
In the Polls
The Wildcats received votes in the Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 polls but none since. (Arizona's most recent ranking was No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today and No. 24 in the AP polls with a 5-2 record a year ago, but dropped out on Oct. 29 at 5-3.) Washington had been a Top 10 team all year and checks in at No. 12 by the coaches and No. 15 by the Associated Press.
Injury Report for Washington Game
OLB Joe Siofele (hand) had surgery Oct. 10 and is out for several weeks. DE Austin Uku re-injured his knee before the Oregon game (missed UO/OSU) and is questionable for UW. He missed the first two games of the year but played vs. UNLV and WSU. DE Eli Wnek (preseason foot fracture/has not played) will practice more this week and is questionable Backup LB Scott McKee (elbow, missed OSU trip) is questionable. DE Fata Avegalio (knee) missed the Oregon game with a knee injury (and Idaho/UNLV with an elbow injury) but returned for OSU. OT John Vorsheck has missed rotation play with an ankle injury (though snapped on place kicks) but should be available for interior play vs. UW.Lost Potential Starts due to Injury: 8 (Wnek-6, Fraser-1, Siofele-1).
Arizona Game Captains
Here are the game captains to date: San Diego State: SS Brandon Nash, WR Malosi Leonard, SS Zaharius Johnson, C Steven Grace, DE Eli Wnek. Idaho: FB Mike Detwiler, LB Lance Briggs, FS Jarvie Worcester, WR Lance Relford, DE Alex Luna. UNLV: TE Peter Hansen, CB Jermaine Chatman, DT Anthony Thomas, OT Makoa Freitas, OG Kevin Barry. WSU: WR Bobby Wade, SS Brandon Nash, DE Austin Uku, C Steven Grace, PK Sean Keel. Oregon: DE Johnny Jackson, ILB Lance Briggs, FS Clay Hardt, FB Mike Detwiler, C Steven Grace. Oregon State: Brandon Nash, Jarvie Worcester, Lance Briggs and Malosi Leonard. The Wildcats will select permanent 2001 team captains following the season.
The Cats have surrendered 149 points in their three Pac-10 games, the most of any stretch in UA's conference affiliation which began in 1978. The school's worst stretch ever came at the conclusion of the 1949 season (Border Conference) with successive losses of 34-7 to Arizona State. 75-0 to Michigan State and 46-0 to Kansas. The 63 points scored by Oregon this year is the most surrendered by UA in a Pac-10 game, eclipsing the 58 put up by Washington in 1997 (a 58-28 Husky victory). Arizona's 1991 team gave up an average of 32.8 points per game to post the highest single-season opponents' mark. At this point UA is allowing 34.8 points per game.
Wade Nears 100
Junior wide receiver Bobby Wade, the team leader with 24 receptions and 318 yards, has 99 career receptions for 1,398 yards, putting him at No. 10 on the UA career chart for catches. He has caught a pass in 26 consecutive games, No. 15 nationally. Ten more could move him into the No. 7 spot:
Clearance for Clarence
UA's sophomore tailback Clarence Farmer broke runs of 78, 14, 15, 12 and 25 yards en route to a career-high 158 rushing yards against Oregon, then had to work diligently (19-55) for tougher yards in more rugged going against Oregon State. His 78-yard run against the Ducks was two shy of his career best, an 80-yard jaunt at USC last year. He has two 100-yard games this year (18-118 vs. Idaho, 15-158 vs. Oregon) and five in his 17-game career. He also had 90 (SDSU) and 84 (WSU) yards in two other games. Some serious score deficits in recent games have reduced UA's intent to use patience in the running game, but with the chances offered Farmer is visibly one of the most hard-working Wildcats on the field. His 5.4 yards per carry on 100 tries is evidence. The Cats averaged 7.2 yards per running play against Oregon, their season best. Against the Beavers it was 1.53 per pop. In the season opener at San Diego State the figure was a season-low 1.48 yards per tote.
Bragging about Briggs
Junior inside linebacker Lance Briggs, to no surprise, leads UA with 59 tackles. That's one shy of his usual average of 10.0 per game. He also leads the team with eight tackles for loss, plus has 2.5 sacks, has forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. He had eight tackles against the Beavers to give him 172 in his career, an average of 10.1 per game since switching from true-freshman fullback to the starting 'mike' linebacker role last year. He's playing these days with a cast (and requisite padding) on his left hand, which while making some gripping more difficult has not proven to affect his ability to wrap the ball carrier(s).
Michael Makes His Picks
Sophomore cornerback Michael Jolivette intercepted his third pass of the year last week and ranks No. 23 nationally with a .50 per game figure. He has broken up eight passes this year and has 22 PBUs in his career, one shy of the UA's Top 10 chart. No. 10 on the list if former All-American safety Allan Durden with 23. Jolivette has a chance at former All-American safety Chuck Cecil's UA record of 38 and the top mark by a cornerback, 35 by Kelly Malveaux. Michael's eight career picks put him four shy of that UA Top-10 chart.
Picking on Jason
UA quarterback Jason Johnson has suffered a back-to-Earth orbit of six interceptions in the last three games (3 vs. WSU, 1 vs. Oregon, 2 at Oregon State), a development which has seen his pass efficiency rating drop from 149.86 (then 14th nationally) to 126.92, listed this week at No. 44 in Division I-A. He's showing some effects of first-year quarterbacking. Still, he has shown composure, toughness and resilience. He's completed 56 percent of his passes (89 for 159) and thrown nine touchdown passes. Two of the seven interceptions he's thrown were tipped balls. One of his TD tosses was a school and Pac-10 record 99-yarder to Brandon Marshall. His completion percentage is close to UA's single-season record (for a projected minimum of 200 attempts) of .575 by Keith Smith in 1999. He threw a touchdown pass in each of the first five games, with a career high of three scoring throws against Nevada-Las Vegas when he clearly out dueled the Rebels' Jason Thomas. The best thing about Johnson is he'll be the first to note his improvement is a key to UA's success in the second half of the season.
After six games UA quarterbacks have completed passes to 14 different receivers. Against Oregon State six players including tight ends James Hugo and Justin Levasseur caught balls. UA has found at least eight different receivers in all but the OSU and WSU (5) games this year. The nine players catching a ball vs. UNLV was the biggest single-game corps since the 1998 season opener (9 at Penn State). The14 players who have caught passes includes receivers Malosi Leonard, Bobby Wade, Andrae Thurman, Brandon Marshall, Lance Relford and Gary Love, tight ends James Hugo, Justin Levasseur and Steve Fleming, and backs Clarence Farmer, Anthony Fulcher, Mike Detwiler, Leo Mills and Tremaine Cox. Wade (24-318), Leonard (23-308) and Thurman (15-243) lead the way in receptions, although Marshall's school-record 99-yard catch-run against Idaho puts him close in yardage with 10 catches for 226 yards. He has the other long scoring catch, a 44-yarder against Oregon. He and Wade lead with three touchdown receptions.
Sacking and Protecting the QBs
UA recorded no sacks against the Beavers last week, the team's first empty bag of the year after averaging about 3.5 per game. Some injuries on the edge have hurt UA's continuity in fostering its pass rush. A week earlier the only sack of the Oregon game came on a blitz by safety Zaharius Johnson. UA had three sacks against Washington State to make it only four in Pac-10 play. The team has 17 this year. DE Johnny Jackson's sack against the Cougars made for a 17-yard loss and caused a fumble Austin Uku returned two yards for a score. UA did a good job of containing UNLV's mobile Jason Thomas and sacked him three times, with two by Jackson and one by DT Young Thompson. A week earlier UA had seven sacks in the Idaho game, its most since a school-record nine at UCLA in 1999. Lance Briggs and Alex Luna had one and shared another to lead the way. Luna, Jackson and Michael Jolivette had one apiece in the opener. Opponents have nine sacks (two at SDSU, none by Idaho, one by UNLV, three by WSU, none by Oregon, three by OSU). The latter is within parameters set by offensive coaches, who insist on pass-protection success of one sack per 17 passing attempts. The current pass-protection ratio is 1:11.
A Dozen Turnovers Bakes 10 Scores By Pac-10 Foes
The last three weeks have seen Arizona give up the ball. Three turnovers led to two short-field touchdowns by the Beavers, who also blocked a UA punt and recovered that ball for a score. Five turnovers against Oregon led to five touchdown drives by the Ducks. Four interceptions against WSU led to three scores. The spate of turnovers in league play shattered UA's ball-control style evidenced in the first three games and dropped UA from a No. 26 standing to 85th in turnover margin among I-A teams. UA is minus-4 in turnovers, a negative for the first time in two seasons. The Cats had interceptions by cornerback Michael Jolivette and safety Jarvie Worcester against OSU, and scored a field goal after the latter. UA does have three fumble returns for scores -- for 2 yards by DE Austin Uku vs. WSU, by CB Michael Jolivette for 40 yards against UNLV and by SS Brandon Nash for 57 yards at San Diego State. UA suffered an over-the-head snap on a punt that was illegally kicked through the endzone by punter Ramey Peru to give SDSU a scoring possession at the UA 1 yard-line.
Arizona 16, Opponents 12
2001 Miscue Points:
Arizona 46, Opponents 94
Rushing-Defense Tradition Takes A Hit
Arizona held its first three opponents to an average of 92 rushing yards per game, good enough to rate No. 24th nationally, then Pac-10 play began... WSU posted 138 yards, Oregon netted 282 yards with a pair of 100-yard efforts and Oregon State rushed for 195 yards. The three games pushed UA to 74th in Division I-A rushing defense. Also, five backs have rushed for 100 yards against UA this year -- WSU's Dave Minnich (30-121), Idaho's Blair Lewis (21-110), Oregon's Onterrio Smith (15-131) and Maurice Morris (21-110) and OSU's Ken Simonton (18-104) -- among seven running backs to hit the 100-yard mark against UA in the last 19 games. Rotating injuries across the line have hurt UA's continuity if not totally altered its lineup. Senior end Johnny Jackson has been the stalwart, starting all six games. Otherwise, ends Eli Wnek, Alex Luna, Austin Uku and Fata Avegalio, and tackles Keoni Fraser and Anthony Thomas have lost practice or game time because of various physical difficulties. When nearly 100 percent healthy at the get-go, UA held San Diego State to 41 net yards rushing on 29 attempts, an average of 1.4 yards per carry in its best effort of the season.
Arizona Football Notes...
The McKale Center Ticket Office is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (520-621-2287). Single-game public tickets range from $6 to $22, or higher in priority areas. Arizcats.com offers online purchases.
Arizona Football On TV
The UA-Washington game will be syndicated by Fox Sports Net for distribution in 15 western cities. Two additional games have been selected by FSN with other games in the pool for national broadcasts by ABC or packages by FSN. Fox Sports Net Arizona produces other games, often for over-the-air broadcast on KWBA-58 in southern Arizona and KUSK in central Arizona.
Arizona Football On Radio
KNST 790-AM Radio is the flagship station for live Arizona football broadcasts on the Wildcat Sports Network. Brian Jeffries and Les Josephson call the play. Affiliates: KCTK-Phoenix, KVNA-Flagstaff, KBLU-Yuma, KTAN-Sierra Vista, KRLV-Las Vegas, KDAP-Douglas, KWRQ-Safford, KZUA-Holbrook, KIKO-Globe, KINO-Winslow. Internet broadcast: www.knst.com KNST also administers UA's Spanish broadcasts carried by XENY-Nogales and KXEW-Tucson, with Joel Bojorquez and Francisco Romero. KNST's broadcast is available by phone using TEAMLINE for about 10 cents per minute, by calling 1-800-846-4700.
John Mackovic Coach's Shows
Head coach John Mackovic's weekly radio and television shows are produced by KNST Radio, with host Brian Jeffries and the coach taping during 'Tuesdays in the Huddle With John Mackovic,' a public gathering at McMahon's Steakhouse at 12 noon Tuesdays. The radio show airs at 6 p.m. Tuesdays on KNST-790 AM and the TV segment is broadcast over the air at 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays on KWBA-58.