Wildcats Face Tough Test This Week Against Oregon
Sept. 30, 2002
The Game - Arizona (3-1, 0-0 Pac-10) plays host to No. 8 (AP) Oregon (4-0, 0-0 Pac-10) in both teams' conference opener at 7:24 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, in 56,002-seat Arizona Stadium. The game will be shown nationally on Fox Sports Net cable, with Steve Physioc and Tom Ramsey describing the play. UO is No. 7 in the coaches poll.
Some Game Themes - UA has pointed at this game for a year, after reaching an understanding that it opened league play listlessly in 2001 ... The Cats' first game against a top 10 team - since its Oregon game (No. 8) a year ago... Arizona faces the team that gave it its worst-ever Pac-10 loss a year ago... The Ducks ride high with a nine-game winning streak and have had a week off to prepare... Can Arizona reverse last year's effort when it gave Oregon 35 points off five turnovers? ... Is this year's Ducks offense capable of the 607 yards in offense it gained against UA a year ago? ... Can UA overcome a spate of injuries?
The Series - Arizona trails, 15-12... UA leads in Tucson, 8-6... Oregon has won eight of the last 11 games including last year's wipe-out, 63-28, in Tucson, where UO has won two straight... UA's last victory in Tucson came in 1998, 38-3... Oregon's big victory a year ago was the widest margin in the series...
The Coaches - Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65), second year at Arizona (8-7) and 15th season as a collegiate head coach (93-71-3). Mackovic has a career 0-1 mark against UO. Oregon: Mike Bellotti (UC-Davis '73), eighth year at Oregon (64-23 plus this year) and 13th year overall (87-48-2) as a head coach. Bellotti is 6-1 against Arizona, arguably the best active Pac-10 mark against UA.
Arizona Last Week - The Wildcats weathered a determined effort by North Texas and defended their home turf with a strange blend of good plays to emerge with a 14-9 victory and improve to 3-1. Not that there weren't some bad things, too - UA had two field goals blocked, gave up 282 yards in rushing and 431 overall, and saw the injury bug hit several more key players. But when push came to shove, Arizona did the pushing. The Cats broke out of a two-game turnover-margin nightmare, recovering two fumbles and intercepting a pass, plus came up with a huge field goal block of their own that speedster Gary Love scooped and romped 60 yards for the defining score with no time left on the clock at the half. Arizona took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, then continued some red zone problems as a 1st-and-goal drive stalled, to end with Sean Keel's field goal attempt of 23 yards being blocked by Don McGee. The Mean Green marched the other way with a 12-play drive and took the lead on their own field goal. Minutes later a goal-line stand helped UA avoid a bigger hole. UNT again drove 12 plays to the UA 2 yard-line, but successive stops by Joe Siofele on 2nd down, Lance Briggs/Ray Wells on 3rd down and Clay Hardt on 4th down kept the Green out of the end zone. After NTU took a 6-0 lead on another field goal in the second quarter, UA had trouble moving the ball and Keel missed another FG try. But Young Thompson caused a fumble at the UNT 20 yard-line that Hardt grabbed and on the next play UA halfback Mike Bell ran for the go-ahead score at the two-minute mark. The Mean Green marched into FG range at the 0:02 mark, but Carlos Williams blocked the try and Love picked up the bouncing ball and raced for the final UA tally. UNT added a field goal in the third period, but that was it for the scoring. Keel missed another FG try, backup Bobby Gill gave it a shot on another attempt (blocked) and the clubs traded field position and punts the rest of the way. David Hinton had a forced fumble and an interception to thwart UNT drives. It wasn't pretty, but football occasionally is thus: a rugged game of opportunities. Arizona cashed in on enough to win the game.
Ducks Data and Match-up Notes...
University of Oregon, Eugene. Enrollment: 19,091. Colors: Green & Yellow; Conference: Pac-10. 2001 Record: 11-1....Oregon's nine-game winning steak is best among Pac-10 teams by a wide margin... Another victory would match the school-record 10-game streak nearly four decades ago in 1963-64... Oregon had 22 tackles for loss in its last game, a 41-0 victory over Portland State for its first shutout in 11 years... Oregon has scored on its opening drive in each of its four games and has a 41-7 first-quarter scoring edge... Tailback Onterrio Smith has four consecutive 100-yard games (116 ypg) and seven touchdowns and could possibly match Bobby Moore's (aka Ahmad Rashad) record of five consecutive century-mark contests... Speaking of big-play guys, wide receiver Sammy Parker - who torched UA for 160 receiving yards on six catches a year ago - has averaged 50.9 yards on eight career TD receptions... Meantime, fellow receiver Keenan Howry has a reception in 39 consecutive games, two shy of the Pac-10 record of 41 by former UA sensation Dennis Northcutt (1996-99)...The Ducks have intercepted a pass in each of its last eight games and have seven this year led by Steven Moore with two... UO is +8 in turnover margin, weighing in nationally at No. 7 for its 2.0 per game factor... Senior LB David Moretti leads the club with 34 tackles while LB Kevin Mitchell tops in with four sacks among his 32 hits. Moretti tied his career-high with 13 tackles vs. Fresno State...Junior QB Jason Fife hasn't lettered at UO - but he will. He's a 220-yard per game thrower with eight TD tosses and one pick in 103 attempts... The Ducks have blocked two punts (both by Keith Lewis) and a field goal (by Kevin Mitchell)... If Arizona can keep the Ducks from their red-zone success of a year ago - eight touchdowns on eight penetrations vs. the Wildcats - then UO can turn to place kicker Jared Siegel, who has made 10 of 11 field goal attempts including all eight from 39 yards and in. But, check this: Oregon has scored 20 times in 22 penetrations this year, including 14 touchdowns...
Injury Report for Oregon Game
CB Michael Jolivette (knee, practice before Wisconsin) is out. FB Gainus Scott (ankle, practice before UNT) is out. HB Clarence Farmer (knee vs. UNT) was to undergo surgery Oct. 1 and is out. OT Darren Safranek (knee) has not played and is out. DE Andre Torrey (hip) has not played and is out. OG John Parada (knee vs. Utah) missed two games and is out. OG John Vorsheck (concussion) has not played and is out. LB Lance Briggs (ankle vs. UNT) is questionable. DT Brad Brittain (knee vs. UNT) is questionable. CB Darrell Brooks (back vs. UNT) is questionable. WR Ricky Williams (shoulder) is questionable. DE Marcus Smith (ankle vs. UNT) is questionable. CB Luis Nunez (groin) is questionable. FB Joey Willrodt (shoulder at Wisconsin, missed UNT) is questionable. SS Clay Hardt (ankle) missed a Wisconsin start but played. Makoa Freitas (wrist surgery Aug. 24) missed the NAU start but returned vs. Utah, as did center Keoki Fraser (ankle, missed NAU) and Nunez (missed NAU). Safety Justin Jochum had ankle surgery after an early August weight-room injury and has yet to return to special teams.
Missed Starts Due to Injury: 15 (Freitas-1, Hardt-1, Torrey-4, Fraser-1, Safranek-4, Parada-1, Willrodt-1, Jolivette-2.)
The team will elect permanent team captains near the close of the season. Each week prior to that honor, game captains are selected by head coach John Mackovic. The game captains for Northern Arizona -- QB Jason Johnson, LB Lance Briggs, FS Jarvie Worcester and TE James Hugo. Utah - LB Ray Wells, OT Makoa Freitas, WR Bobby Wade. Wisconsin - TE James Hugo, LB Ray Wells, LG Makoa Freitas, DT Young Thompson. North Texas - Thompson, J. Johnson, Wade, Worcester.
Linebacker Pat Howard and cornerback Gary Love were UA nominees for Pac-10 Players of the Week -- Sept. 28. Howard played extensively for the first time this year and notched six tackles including a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery to thwart a fourth-quarter drive. Love turned the momentum of the game on the last play of the first half, returning a blocked field goal 60 yards for a touchdown. It was UA's first special teams scored of the year. He also had eight tackles in his first career start as a cornerback.
Miscellany of Late...
...Bobby Wade (165 career catches) needs 11 more to hit the Pac-10 career receptions chart......The Wildcats have blocked two punts (both by since injured Michael Jolivette and blocked a field goal (Carlos Williams) this year. But opponents have blocked three field goals (two by North Texas, one by Utah) and blocked a punt (Wisconsin). That makes special teams play something to keep one's eye on this year... Freshman punter Danny Baugher, who saw one of his kicks blocked at Madison, earned his first start last week against North Texas, displacing junior Ramey Peru. His leg is considered more potent than the current 39.5 average he's posted... But net punting is hurting UA's field position. The Cats are No. 102 nationally with a 30.5 net punting figure, one reason Baugher's been given a shot to see if he can develop the threat he showed in fall camp and as a prep star......The Cats have yet to field projected (post-spring) lineups because of injuries on both sides of the ball......Backup halfback Mike Bell scored his first career touchdown against North Texas on a 14-yard jaunt immediately after UA recovered a fumble......The Cats' five-wide formation to open the UNT game saw two players earn their initial starting roles - wide receivers Juan Valentine and Ricky Williams...... UA slipped below 20 first downs at Wisconsin, for the first time in the last eight games dating to last year's Oregon State game. The Cats had 20 last week against UNT...
Arizona Head Coach John Mackovic
John Mackovic looks to turn the corner and push his 6-2 record at Arizona in August/September beyond the wall the Cats hit in league play a year ago. UA's 26th head coach is in his 18th year as a collegiate head coach, athletics director or professional head coach, plus adds another dozen years in the game as a coordinator or assistant to give the Wildcats a mentor with more than three decades of established leadership and organization.
Mackovic's first year in Tucson opened with the team snapping a program five-game losing streak, and opened the year 3-0 to complete only the third perfect non-conference campaign in the past 11 seasons. Pacific-10 Conference play ushered in some difficult going as the club extended its league losing streak to 10 games before a breakthrough. This year he's emphasized the mental readiness the team must have at the same juncture.
Mackovic, a proven strategist, had his 2001 team unveil a sophisticated attack that produced a 2,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a near 1,000-yard receiver. Mackovic served notice that under his tutelage Arizona can be a productive offensive team that can score points. He's the first UA coach to win his first two season openers since Jim Young in 1973 and 1974, when Mackovic was the offensive coordinator in Tucson. He is among the Top 25 among active Division I-A coaches in career victories and just seven shy of the 100-victory level.
Mackovic's second-year legacy at several previous coaching stops gives Arizona partisans optimism. At Wake Forest his second club improved by seven games. His second Kansas City Chiefs team went from 6-10 to 8-8. His Fighting Illini improved from 6-5-1 to 10-2 in his second season.
As the District 9 representative on the Board of Trustees of the American Football Coaches Association, Mackovic, 59, has a voice heard nationally. His focus on the total student-athlete has been underscored by nine national academic/citizenship honor winners during his collegiate career including two members, Jason Johnson a week ago and Eli Wnek last year, selected to the American Football Coaches Association 'Good Works Team.' Arizona recorded a program-high four first-team Academic All-Pac-10 selections in 2001. Graduate quarterback Johnson is among top contenders for a Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award.
The Cats' 37-3 victory against Northern Arizona Aug. 31 was one point shy of the Wildcats' highest point total a year ago, a 38-21 win over Nevada-Las Vegas. The team's 510 yards in total offense was the No. 2 figure in his tenure, behind the 578 yards UA posted against Stanford a year ago. The Cats' 416 passing yards against a quality Utah secondary is the third-highest total in Arizona history and just passed Mackovic's Arizona best, 415 yards against Stanford a year ago.
Mackovic at a Glance:
Last Time Against Oregon -- Oct. 6, 2001, Tucson, Ariz.
...It was Arizona 28, Joey Harrington 21 (on three rushing touchdowns), but UO's poster boy threw for three more scores and two 100-yard Ducks rushers ran for three others in a blizzard of touchdowns as Oregon handed the Cats a 63-28 loss. The point total was the most allowed by UA in a Pac-10 game. When rain showers began with the game tied at 14 in the second quarter, Oregon showered UA with 21 more points to take a 35-14 lead at the half. As in its league opener a week earlier, the Wildcats were again troubled by turnovers (5) which each led to an Oregon touchdown and 35 sudden-change points. The miscues helped the Ducks enjoy short-field advantage with three scoring drives of 35 yards or less. Harrington (15-24, 279 yards) and Co. were economical, with six scoring drives taking less than two minutes. Tailbacks Maurice Morris (21-110) and Onterrio Smith (15-131) became the first duo to eclipse the century barrier in a game against UA since two ASU backs did so in 1999. Arizona's defense was hurt with defensive tackle Keoni Fraser (concussion) unable to play and starting end Austin Uku sidelined in warm-ups by a knee injury, leaving just two veteran tackles and two ends able to go, with one of them coming off the injured list. UA was not without its positive moments, as Clarence Farmer rushed for a career-high 158 yards on 15 carries, Jason Johnson threw two TD passes and UA did not give up a sack. Backup quarterbacks Cliff Watkins and John Rattay got some needed work and Rattay threw his first career TD pass. But Oregon ran 80 plays for 7.6 yards per pop and it netted the Ducks 607 total yards, the sixth-highest opponent total ever against UA. Arizona managed a decent 483 yards of its own, but didn't hang on to the ball when it mattered. Too, the Ducks scored eight touchdowns in eight red-zone penetrations.
Some Career Numbers, Cats vs. Ducks
Receiving: Bobby Wade (10-147, 3 games), Andrae Thurman (2-22, 1 game), Lance Relford (1-15, 1 game).
Passing: Jason Johnson (18-7-1-132-2TD, 1 game).
Returns: Gary Love (2-47 KOR, 2 games), Andrae Thurman (5-108 KOR, 1 game), Jarvie Worcester (1-13 INT, 3 games)
Kicking: Sean Keel (1-2 FG, made 34, missed 50, 2 games)
Defense: Lance Briggs (15 solo+9 ast, 24 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 games; + 1 tackles as true freshman special teams' player); Jarvie Worcester (12+3, 15 tackles, 1 INT, 3 games); Joe Siofele (1-2, 3 tackles, 2 games); David Hinton (4+0, 5 tackles, 2 games); Young Thompson (1+2, 3 tackles 2 games). Tackles in one game only: Michael Jolivette (9), Pat Howard (4), Clay Hardt (3), Ray Wells (4), Matt Molina (2).
Air-a-Zona On Standby?
The aerial attack featured so prominently in UA's first two games took a hit in the second two as the team's 411-yard average dipped to 337, plus UA had no touchdown throws in the second pair of games. Jason Johnson and Nic Costa combined for 138 passing yards at Wisconsin and Johnson threw for 189 vs. North Texas. Arizona had averaged 80.5 plays in its two games, with 85 runs and 76 passes for an average of 484 yards. In the next two: opponents put up the numbers with an average of 428 yards per game while UA posted a 300-yard average on 62 plays each. You need the ball to operate a wide-open attack and Wisconsin and UNT enjoyed the surplus in time of possession. Still, passing has netted UA 1,150 yards compared to 421 rushing this season. The play calling is split - 150 rushes, 135 passes. Arizona never has averaged more than 255 yards passing per game in a season and is ahead of that mark at 287.5. UA is averaging a decent 8.5 yards per attempt and 14.9 yards per completion and will not stop throwing - but does need to run the ball effectively to avoid pointed defenses by the opponents.
Rush to Judgment
Wisconsin (260) and North Texas (282) combined for 542 yards rushing, not a good way for Arizona to maintain its once No. 13 rushing defense ranking. That figure charts in at No. 87 for the Oregon game. Arizona allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers in Wisconsin's Anthony Davis (16-110, 2 TD) and North Texas' Kevin Galbreath (22-104). Two other Mean Green players topped 70 yards - backup tailback Patrick Cobbs (17-82) and wide receiver Ja'Mel Branch (6-73) on end-around and misdirection plays. Branch had a 12.2 average, the best this year against Arizona. Meantime, against Wisconsin, the running of Clarence Farmer helped UA record its best rushing day of the year and eclipse the passing attack for the only time this year (154 yards). Farmer's knee injury on Saturday casts a cloud over UA's potential in the running game. Redshirt freshman halfback Mike Bell and redshirt freshman fullback Sean Jones will have to step into the limelight this week. Jones had his first career rush (6 yards) and catch (8 yards) last week.
Quod Erat Demonstrandum
'That which was to be demonstrated' this year is senior quarterback Jason Johnson's ability as a college quarterback, and his role has been a big key to UA's 3-1 start. Johnson is No. 20 nationally in total offense (267.8), No. 23 nationally in pass efficiency rating (143.3) and No. 29 in completions per game (18.3). He threw for successive career yardage totals -- 381 yards in the opener and 416 vs. Utah, both among the top 5 in UA single-game individual performances. He's suffered two interceptions in 125 throws this year. It took four years -- one as a redshirt, two as a holder and one solid year last season - to demonstrate that his aptitude and ability measure up to his work ethic. Last year he completed 169 passes for 57 percent , 2,347 yards and 19 touchdowns, all in Arizona's top 10 for single-season marks. That he was previously untested was demonstrated by 13 interceptions. Now he has five 300-yard career passing games and appears capable of that each time out. Johnson found nine different receivers in his 2002 debut, then turned to some key guys in hitting Bobby Wade and Andrae Thurman nine times each against Utah. Against Wisconsin, Wade again was a big target with seven catches for 85 yards, but UA couldn't really get its passing game going. Against North Texas he didn't get the Cats in the end zone through the air, but found 10 different receivers, a personal high. A graduate student in Judaic studies, Johnson's the reigning first-team Academic All-Pac-10 quarterback, a member of the 2002 AFCA 'Good Works Team' which cites scholastic and civic responsibility, and UA's nominee for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete post-graduate studies program. Behind Johnson, redshirt freshman Nic Costa saw action in the opener and at Wisconsin and had average success, but is blessed with a strong arm.
Catching the Ball
Arizona wide receiver Bobby Wade has proven indispensable to UA's offensive efforts, and this year leads the Pacific-10 Conference in receptions per game (7.0) and receiving yardage per game (107.5), and is second in total receiving yards (430) and all-purpose yardage (137.5). He's been named to the Shrine East-West Game roster (joining teammate Lance Briggs)... Wade had nine catches for a career-high 175 yards against Utah, but saw his streak of 100-yard games end at Wisconsin, catching seven balls for 85 yards. He led the way with four catches for a modest 37 yards against North Texas. The efforts have pushed him past Theopolis 'T' Bell into No. 2 on the school career chart with 165 catches. He's third in the UA record book with 18 scoring receptions, and No. 4 with 2,392 receiving yards. His 62 receptions a year ago were the No. 4 single-season figure. He has a streak of 35 consecutive games with a reception - No. 12 nationally and six shy of UA's record of 41 by Dennis Northcutt (1996-99). He and his mates in the receiving corps -- junior Andrae Thurman, sophomores Lance Relford and Ricky Williams, freshman Biren Ealy and junior college transfer Juan Valentine - give Arizona a deep group. Including tight ends and backs, 12 different receivers have receptions. Thurman broke out with his best day against Utah, matching Wade's nine catches and totaling 165 yards, both career bests. The two-pronged 100-yard receiving duo was the first for UA since then freshman Wade and Northcutt did it in 1999 at Washington State. Eight players average more than 12 yards per catch with tight ends James Hugo (22.5) and Justin Levasseur (18.0) and WR Ricky Williams (17.8) leading a the way. But Wade's a go-to guy. In his last seven games he's put up some full-season numbers - 52 receptions, 836 yards, seven touchdowns.
Briggs a Bulwark in LB Corps
Senior inside linebacker Lance Briggs leads Arizona with 35 tackles and five hits for losses. He had eight tackles against North Texas last week and was all over the field at Wisconsin, recording 15 tackles, second only to his initial game as a linebacker when he had 16 to open his true sophomore year at Utah in 2000. His total of 206 tackles in those two seasons came on the move. With 245 career hits (4 as a true freshman fullback on special teams in 1999, 35 in 2002), he'll move close to former UA All-American and NFL draftee Sean Harris (1991-94), a swift and rugged linebacker like Briggs who recorded 320 tackles. Briggs is a preseason All-American and clearly the top physical presence behind the line for the Wildcats. Beside him, senior Ray Wells and sophomore Kirk Johnson have Pac-10 experience. Wells' 10 tackles against North Texas is his career high, on the heels of six hits at Wisconsin. Howard missed the first two games after preseason knee arthroscopy, played at Wisconsin, then stepped up with six tackles against UNT, including one for a loss and a recovered fumble. Johnson drew raves playing as a true freshman a year ago. In the meantime, true freshman Spencer Larsen has played in all three games on the kickoff teams and made tackles on the first two scrimmage plays of his career against NAU. On the outside, junior Joe Siofele is the returning starter at whip linebacker, but has yet to start at the spot while filling in at defensive end in the absence of projected starter Andre Torrey. Siofele had eight tackles vs. UNT, including UA's lone sack. Junior Matt Molina has started at whip and knocked down two passes and contributed 11 tackles. Briggs, though, is clearly UA's primary sideline-to-sideline guy with some pop in his pads.
Despite some difficulty in 2001 - surrendering a school-record 34.3 points per game, for one -- Arizona kept its double-eagle flex defensive scheme. But in the off season coordinator Larry Mac Duff and head coach John Mackovic looked at ways to improve and did add some wrinkles to continue the gap-control, pressure style that pushed Arizona to the top of the national statistics in total defense and rushing defense in the 1990s. The Cats want to be more disciplined and effective with a variety of pass-defense alignments, but expect stopping the run to be paramount. Wisconsin (5.5 yards per attempt) and North Texas (4.7) took control of the line of scrimmage at times, enough for the former to win the game. Arizona is 10th nationally in pass defense (143.3 yards per game), No. 16 in scoring defense (15.0) and No. 30 in total defense, but really wants to shore up the interior with its double-eagle flex. Most certainly Oregon will offer a serious challenge with its firepower.
The knee injury to halfback Clarence Farmer could take one big-play aspect away from Arizona. On his 17 career touchdown runs, the junior All-Pac-10 back has averaged 25.7 yards. He added a 70-yard score to the mix this year at Wisconsin, UA's longest play of the year.
No J In Secondary
Junior cornerback Michael Jolivette's knee injury in practice before the North Texas game took one of the Cats' best defenders out of the lineup. Also a stalwart on special teams, he had blocked two punts against Northern Arizona to earn Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors. The two blocks in one game are a school record. Arizona's off-season work in the secondary centered around stopping the litany of big plays which plagued the defense in 2001. Jolivette intercepted five passes and set an Arizona single-season record in breaking up 20 passes a year ago. Michael's been a fixture of UA's secondary since his first game in 2000. Since, he's intercepted five passes in each of his first two years (after redshirting the '99 season). Across from Jolivette, redshirt freshman Darrell Brooks wrested the top role, then was hurt last week and might be out of the lineup, too. Senior David Hinton started at Wisconsin in Jolivette's place, while junior Gary Love earned his first base-defense start at corner (started at nickel vs. Utah) against North Texas. Hinton caused a fumble and intercepted a pass vs. the Mean Green. Junior Luis Nunez also has played on the edge. At free safety, senior Jarvie Worcester is the dean of the secondary and a fifth-year player with three years' experience. He's the third-leading tackler on the club with 21 hits and has one of UA's two interceptions... Junior Clay Hardt is the starter at strong safety but missed his start at Wisconsin with an ankle sprain, giving sophomore Tony Wingate his first career start. True freshman Lamon Means has seen some snaps at free safety... Note: DBs have broken up 16 opponent passes in 103 attempts...
The More the Merrier
Three starters along the offensive front missed the season opener because of injury, but two have returned to action. Left guard Makoa Freitas injured his hand a week before the opener and had surgery. Center Keoki Fraser suffered an ankle injury in camp that kept him out of the first game. Right tackle Darren Safranek had off-season surgery (shoulder/knee) and hasn't been able to practice yet. Backup guard and placements snapper John Vorsheck suffered a concussion that kept him out of the first three games. The losses gave UA a different look vs. NAU, with sophomore Chris Johnson at left tackle, senior Aaron Higginbotham at left guard, junior Reggie Sampay at center, freshman John Parada at right guard, and junior Brandon Phillips at right tackle. Parada was hurt against Utah and missed the Wisconsin trip and UNT games, so backup center Kili Lefotu started in his place at guard. Offensive line coach Charlie Dickey also has played mid-year transfer Matt Lamatsch at tackle. Higginbotham and Phillips are returning veterans who worked diligently in the summer to improve. Sampay's started at three positions in his career. UA has some size up front and has more in the wings with some additional true freshmen like Tanner Bell and Keith Jackson. Note: ...Coaches moved Freitas from tackle to guard a week into camp and Mackovic says he has NFL potential at the position. He's been a tackle for most of his UA career...
Entering the season Arizona was No. 7 nationally among I-A teams with 74 quarterback sacks from 2000-2001. The team has eight this year with seven players in on the action. Arizona had one disputed sack at Wisconsin (statisticians didn't count it) and one against North Texas, both by team leader Joe Siofele, who has three playing a different position (DE) than his career at OLB. Meantime, opponents have collected nine sacks on about 135 passing plays the Cats have used, decent protection considering the early injuries along the front.
Three Outs in an Inning
The Wildcats had forced opponents into 20 three-and-out possessions among 41 total possessions entering the North Texas game - plus three other four-play drives. UA held the Mean Green to only two three-and-out possessions among 10 total. Still, 22-of-51 is not a bad rate - 43 percent -- for the minimum number of guys sent to the plate, so to speak.
Thrown to the Lions
Coaches had to move whip linebacker Joe Siofele to defensive end in the first three games due to Andre Torrey's injured hip. He joined sophomore end Fata Avegalio (his first career start), sophomore tackle Carlos Williams (his first career start) and senior tackle Young Thompson. Then in the Utah game, sophomore Vince Feula had his first career start ahead of Williams. In the Wisconsin game, redshirt freshman Brad Brittain had his first start ahead of Feula. True freshman end Marcus Smith, junior college end Javier Martinez and junior college tackle Carl Tuitavuki also have seen action. It's not exactly an old vets brigade on the defensive front. Brittain was hurt (knee) vs. North Texas and that reduces the depth. Notes: ...If junior college transfer defensive end Andre Torrey is able to return from a hip injury, it will further change the complexion of UA's front. He was arguably the best pass rusher in the group during spring ball, but has yet to play... Linemen had big plays against UNT. Thompson caused a fumble, with a nice punch-out tackle, that Arizona recovered to lead to its first touchdown. On special teams, Williams blocked the field goal that Gary Love returned to give UA the eventual winning points. Siofele recorded UA's lone sack in the red-zone stop that led to the blocked field goal return, plus had a stop on a goal-line stand that turned away the Mean Green without points.
UA tried four field goals last week and came up empty. Two were blocked. Ouch. Senior Sean Keel had hit six field goals in the first three games to rate No. 5 nationally and third in the Pac-10 at 2.0 per game. He missed from 26 and 32 yards after the blocked try against UNT, then gave way to Bobby Gill - who had his 44-yard attempt blocked. Keel also had a 52-yard try blocked against Utah. He's missed from 29 and had a 52-yard attempt blocked (Utah). He's hit from 19, 21, 24, 27, 39 and 48 yards. Sophomore Gill came on for the team's final try in the opener and hit a 26-yarder in his first career attempt. Seven-for-13 overall is less than last year's 64% success rate (9-for-14, all by Keel). Note: ...Six of the made FGs this year came on red-zone penetrations, giving UA 18 points against a potential of 42...
Arizona has a decent edge in third-down conversion rate with 44 percent against opponents' 33 percent. Eleven-for-31 the last two weeks dropped the effectiveness. Last season the team finished with a 39 percent rate. In the opener UA converted 13-of-21 3rd down plays and 1-for-1 on 4th down to hang on to the ball at a 64 percent conversion rate. Against Utah it was a more modest 7-for-18. Opponents have managed only 20 third-down conversions in 60 tries. North Texas was most effective at 7-for-16. Clearly the factor ties in conveniently with time of possession, because in the last two games Arizona has tried to get things done with 10 minutes less possession. Get the first downs, keep the ball...
Time Keeps on Slipping
Wisconsin used an eight-minute, 31-second scoring drive to help accrue an eight-minute edge in time of possession against the Cats. The Mean Green had a more modest 150-second edge. The running games unleashed by both opponents pointed the way. On the season, Arizona enjoys a 2:30 edge in average time of possession. Against Utah the Wildcats showed their best ball control with a deep-ball passing attack to build a whopping 13-minute edge, 36:32 to 23:28.
The Red(-faced) Zone
Arizona has to increase its offensive power in scoring position. It's scored eight times in 13 trips inside opponents' 20 yard-line, and was 1-for-4 last week, thankfully a touchdown. But UA has managed only three touchdowns in the baker's dozen penetrations. Against the Mean Green three missed field goals gave Arizona one score in four trips. UNT scored two field goals in its four trips, UA blocked another FG try and held on downs. Against Wisconsin the Cats had to settle for a field goal after Andrae Thurman's 35-yard punt return set UA up with the ball at the Wisconsin 21 yard-line. UA reached the 10 but the Badgers stiffened. Earlier, UA ended a 76-yard drive at the Utah 4 and settled for a field goal, ended a 50-yard drive at the Utah 2 yard-line and settled for a field goal, and recovered a fumble at the Utah 19 and settled for a field goal. Not exactly punching it in. Defensively, Arizona opponents have scored five touchdowns in 12 eight incursions. NAU managed to penetrate Arizona's red zone once, and kicked a field goal, while Arizona had two of its three scoring-zone touchdowns (and two field goals) in five trips. Note: ...One of the TDs against Northern Arizona came on a fourth-down play from the 20 itself, a toss from Jason Johnson to James Hugo.
Arizona: 14 Scoring Zone Possessions - 9 scores; 64% scoring, 21% TD (3)
Opponents: 12 Scoring Zone Possessions - 9 scores; 75% scoring, 42% TD (5)
Turnabout is Fair Play
The Cats have held turnovers to a relative minimum, and helped the season margin by getting three takeaways against North Texas. Both teams used some kicking mishaps to score miscue points - UNT blocked a field goal and drove for a three-pointer of its own; Arizona blocked a field goal and recovered it for a 70-yard scoring play. Arizona also recovered a fumble deep in UNT's territory and punched it in for seven points. UA was somewhat sloppy against Utah, coughing up three turnovers that led to 14 points plus ruined a 52-yard drive. The takeaways last week improved UA to +1 in the turnover department with a game margin of +.25. UA's lone takeaway vs. the Utes was a recovered fumble at the Utah 19 yard-line, which resulted in Sean Keel's third field goal of the game. In the opener, Jarvie Worcester intercepted a pass and Gary Love recovered a fumble on punt coverage, but UA did not capitalize with points. Also versus NAU, two blocked punts by Michael Jolivette created short fields for touchdown and field-goal scoring drives. The Cats did not turn the ball over in that contest.
Turnovers: Arizona 5, Opponents 6
Turnover Points: Arizona 10, Opponents 21
Miscue Points: Arizona 27, Opponents 31 (includes turnover, blocked/botched kick possessions
Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion Grand Opening
The UA athletics department celebrated the grand opening of the new $14 million Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion Sept. 14, prior to the Utah game. Parts of the facility have been in use since July - the 19,000 square foot Estes Family strength and conditioning center and the 5,300 square foot Kasser Family Medical Treatment Center. The 10,000 square foot Jim Click Hall of Champions was unveiled with its new exhibits highlighting Arizona athletics heritage. The Lynch Pavilion represents the most dynamic event in Arizona athletics facility history since Arizona Stadium skybox construction in the late 1970s. The pavilion was paid for with private funds raised by the athletics department.
...Arizona is among leading Division I-A institutions in the continental United States with three starters from Hawaii. Only UH itself has more than Arizona, according to Dennis Anderson of the Honolulu Advertiser. Left guard Makoa Freitas (Kamehameha High School), DE/outside linebacker Joe Siofele (St. Louis High) and center Keoki Fraser (Kailua High) give UA the distinction. Too, UA could count defensive tackle Young Thompson (Aloa, American Samoa) and defensive end Fata Avegalio (Pago Pago, American Samoa) among its islander regulars. Starting fullback Joey Willrodt also has Polynesian ancestry, along with backup center Kili Lefotu and defensive tackles Carl Tuitavuki and Vince Feula... On another geographical note, the Cats feature a bundle of players and coaches from the state of Texas, including offensive coordinator Rick Dykes and regulars in halfback Clarence Farmer, linebacker Pat Howard, tight end James Hugo, cornerback Michael Jolivette, offensive tackle Chris Johnson, fullback Sean Jones, safety Lamon Means, wide receiver/special teams' Biren Ealy, receiver Lance Relford, offensive guard/center Reggie Sampay, halfback Gainus Scott and receiver Juan Valentine...
...Arizona has seen about two dozen new players get their initial action this year - redshirts, incoming freshmen, mid-year transfers and transfers. Notable are senior starting fullback Joey Willrodt and redshirt freshman cornerback Darrell Brooks... True freshman offensive guard John Parada started the opener. True freshman Kili Lefotu started at right guard at Wisconsin and against UNT and has played center, too. Sophomore defensive tackle Vince Feula also saw his first action in the opener, and started against Utah and UNT. Other true freshmen who have played include punter Danny Baugher, wide receiver Biren Ealy, defensive end Marcus Smith, linebacker Spencer Larsen and free safety Lamon Means. Other redshirt freshmen are halfbacks Mike Bell and Gainus Scott, quarterback Nic Costa, fullback Sean Jones, defensive tackle Brad Brittain (who earned a start at Wisconsin), defensive tackle John Abramo, special teams player Copeland Bryan and wide receiver Josh Duncan. Junior college transfers to open their careers are wide receiver Juan Valentine, offensive tackle Matt Lamatsch, defensive tackle Carl Tuitavuki and defensive end Javier Martinez. Juco transfer cornerback Luis Nunez saw his first action against Utah after missing the opener with a groin injury. Projected DE starter Andre Torrey, another mid-year transfer, has been sidelined with a hip injury since camp...
...Senior linebacker Lance Briggs and senior wide receiver Bobby Wade have accepted invitations to join the West roster for the Shrine East-West Game early in 2003 in Palo Alto, Calif. They're currently among 19 Pacific-10 Conference players on the team to be coached by Washington State's Mike Price...
...In-game coaching duties spot head coach John Mackovic, defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff, offensive line coach Charlie Dickey, special teams coordinator Scott Pelluer, wide receivers coach Rob Ianello and defensive line coach Marty on the sideline this year. The high view in the coaches booth is used by offensive coordinator Rick Dykes, defensive ends coach Charlie Camp, secondary coach Steve Bernstein, running backs coach Jay Boulware and graduate assistants Jeff Rodgers and Terry Samuel.
2002 Arizona Football Depth Chart - Oregon Week, Oct. 5
WR 4 Andrae Thurman, 6-0, 185, *Jr., 2L, Avondale, Ariz. (Westview)18 Lance Relford, 6-0, 200, *Jr., 2L, Houston, Texas (Booker T. Washington)84 Ricky Williams, 6-3, 210, *So., SQ, Los Angeles, Calif. (Verbum Dei) 81 Juan Valentine, 6-1, 200, Jr., JC, Houston, Texas (Clear Lake/Tyler JC)LT 59 Chris Johnson, 6-3, 295, *So., SQ, Houston, Texas (North Shore)76 Matt Lamatsch, 6-7, 315, Jr., JC, Clafkin, Kan. (Clafkin HS/Butler County CC)LG 77 Makoa Freitas, 6-4, 295, Sr., 3L, Manoa, Hawaii (Kamehameha) 73 Aaron Higginbotham, 6-5, 295, *Sr., 2L, Calimesa, Calif. (Yucaipa)C 67 Keoki Fraser, 6-3, 300, *So., 1L, Kailua, Hawaii (Kailua) 66 Kili Lefotu, 6-5, 298, Fr., HS, Riverside, Calif. (Arlington)RG 66 Kili Lefotu, 6-5, 298, Fr., HS, Riverside, Calif. (Arlington) or 75 Reggie Sampay, 6-3, 285, Jr., 2L, Houston, Texas (North Shore)RT 68 Brandon Phillips, 6-8, 330, *Jr., 1L, Chandler, Ariz. (Corona del Sol)76 Matt Lamatsch, 6-7, 315, Jr., JC, Clafkin, Kan. (Clafkin HS/Butler County CC)TE 89 James Hugo, 6-6, 266, *Sr., 3L, The Woodlands, Texas (Oak Ridge) 88 Justin Levasseur, 6-4, 245, *Jr., 1L, Antioch, Calif. (Antioch)87 Steve Fleming, 6-6, 250, *So., 1L, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Chaparral)WR 1 Bobby Wade, 5-11, 185, Sr., 3L, Phoenix, Ariz. (Desert Vista)18 Lance Relford, 6-0, 200, *Jr., 2L, Houston, Texas (Booker T. Washington) 82 Biren Ealy, 6-2, 175, Fr., HS, Houston, Texas (Cypress Falls)QB 10 Jason Johnson, 6-2, 215, *Sr., 3L, Puyallup, Wash. (Rogers)7 Nic Costa, 5-11, 200, *Fr., RS, Aloha, Ore. (Aloha)HB 26 Mike Bell, 6-0, 210, *Fr., RS, Phoenix, Ariz. (Tolleson) 34 Chris Harris, 5-11, 190, *So., SQ, Elysian Fields, Texas (Elysian Fields)FB 35 Sean Jones, 5-11, 230, *Fr., RS, Houston, Texas (North Shore)37 Joey Willrodt, 6-1, 240, *Sr., SQ, Salinas, Calif. (Palma/Moorpark JC)
DE 98 Fata Avegalio, 6-3, 255, *So., 1L, Pago Pago, American Samoa (Leone)85 Javier Martinez, 6-4, 260, *Jr., JC, Pico Rivera, Calif. (St. Paul/Cerritos CC)DT 92 Carlos Williams, 6-4, 291, So., 1L, Denver, Colo. (Montbello) 90 Carl Tuitavuki, 6-3, 350, Jr., JC, Oakland, Calif. (San Leandro/Ricks CC)DT 93 Young Thompson, 6-2, 305, Sr., 3L, Aloa, American Samoa (Samoana)99 Vince Feula, 6-0, 300, *So., SQ, La Mirada, Calif. ((La Mirada)DE 42 Joe Siofele, 6-2, 255, *Jr., 2L, Waipahu, Hawaii (St. Louis)55 Marcus Smith, 6-5, 220, Fr., HS, San Diego, Calif. (Mission Bay)ROV 7 Ray Wells, 6-0, 220, *Sr., 1L, San Diego, Calif. (Mt. Miguel/Mesa JC) 25 Kirk Johnson, 6-1, 215, So., 1L, Oakland, Calif. (Skyline)MLB 27 Lance Briggs, 6-2, 245, Sr., 3L, Sacramento, Calif. (Elk Grove) 51 Spencer Larsen, 6-1, 225, Fr., HS, Gilbert, Ariz. (Highland)WLB 49 Matt Molina, 6-2, 240, *Jr., 1L, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Chaparral)42 Joe Siofele, 6-2, 255, *Jr., 2L, Waipahu, Hawaii (St. Louis)KAT 33 Clay Hardt, 6-2, 200, *Jr., 2L, Marana, Ariz. (Marana) 30 Tony Wingate, 6-1, 200, *So., SQ, Tucson, Ariz. (Sahuaro)CB 9 Gary Love, 5-10, 180, Jr., 2L, Los Angeles, Calif. (Jefferson) or 2 David Hinton, 6-1, 175, *Sr., 2L, San Diego, Calif. (Lincoln Prep)FS 47 Jarvie Worcester, 6-0, 204, *Sr., 3L, La Jolla, Calif. (La Jolla).33 Clay Hardt, 6-2, 200, *Jr., 2L, Marana, Ariz. (Marana) 19 Lamon Means, 6-3, 190, Fr., HS, Galena Park, Texas, (Galena Park)CB 6 Darrell Brooks, 6-0, 191, *Fr., RS, Moreno Valley, Calif. (Moreno Valley) 13 Luis Nunez, 5-11, 190, Jr., JC, Chula Vista, Calif. (Hilltop/Southwestern CC)
PK 3 Sean Keel, 6-0, 187, Jr., 2L, Littleton, Colo. (Mullen) or 28 Bobby Gill, 5-11, 190, *So., SQ, Littleton, Colo. (Mullen)(KO) 34 Ryan Slack, 6-1, 195, So., 1L, Tucson, Ariz. (Salpointe Catholic)P 12 Ramey Peru, 6-1, 205, *So, 1L, Chandler, Ariz. (Dobson) or 43 Danny Baugher, 5-10, 185, Fr., HS, Phoenix, Ariz. (Mountain Pointe)Hold 10 Jason Johnson, 6-2, 215, *Sr., 3L, Puyallup, Wash. (Rogers)Snaps LS 50 Ben DalMolin, , 6-0, 210, So., 1L, Globe, Ariz. (Globe) PK 42 Joe Siofele, 6-2, 255, *Jr., 2L, Waipahu, Hawaii (St. Louis) 65 John Vorsheck, 6-4, 305, *Sr., 1L, Laguna Hills, Calif. (Laguna Hills/Saddleback CC)Returns 1 Bobby Wade (P/KO), 4 Andrae Thurman (KO/P), 9 Gary Love (KO)
The McKale Center Ticket Office is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (520-621-2287). Single-game public tickets range from $6 to $28. Arizonaathletics.com offers online purchases. Call 1-800-452-2287 toll-free.
Arizona Football On TV
The Oregon game will be shown on national cable by Fox Sports Net, with Steve Physioc and Tom Ramsey calling the play. All other games have or will be selected for national or regional cablecasts or local production by Fox Sports Net.
Arizona Football on Radio
KNST 790-AM Radio (Clear Channel) is the flagship station for live UA football broadcasts on the Wildcat Sports Network. Brian Jeffries and Les Josephson call the play. Affiliates: KKNT Phoenix, KDAP Douglas, KVNA Flagstaff, KIKO Globe, KZUA Holbrook, KLAV Las Vegas, KWRQ Safford, KTAN Sierra Vista, KNOT Prescott, KBLU Yuma. KTOX-Needles, KVSL Show Low. KNST administers UA's Spanish language broadcasts carried by KXEW Tucson and XENY Nogales with Joel Bojorquez and Francisco Romero. KNST's broadcast is available on the internet for $6.95 monthly, through RealNetworks, at arizonaathletics.com. It's also available by phone/Internet using TEAMLINE, by calling 1-800-846-4700, team code 5909.
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 noon Tuesdays. The radio show airs at 6 p.m. Tuesdays on KNST-790 AM and the TV segment is broadcast at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on KWBA-58.