Arizona Looks For First Pac-10 Win At Stanford
Oct. 14, 2002
The Game - Arizona (3-3, 0-2 Pac-10) plays its second consecutive league road contest, traveling to the Bay Area to meet the Stanford Cardinal (1-4, 0-2) Saturday, Oct. 19. Kickoff in 85,500-seat Stanford Stadium is set for 2 p.m. PDT/MST. The game will be produced by Fox Sports Net Arizona for tape-delay showing in Arizona on KWBA-58 (and KZAZ-Prescott) at 7 p.m., with Dave Sitton and Glenn Parker describing the play.
Some Game Themes- Arizona and Stanford both enter the contest looking for a much-needed Pac-10 win... Maybe a trip to Stanford Stadium will help the Cats, as Arizona has won on its last five trips to The Farm... The Cats check out one of the league's newest coaches, and his Fun n' Gun background... The game features the two lowest-scoring teams in the Pac-10... The victor could simply be determined by which team does what it does best: Stanford rush offense (No. 3 in the Pac-10) vs. Arizona's rush defense (No. 10) or Arizona's pass offense (No. 2) vs. the Stanford pass defense (No. 8)... UA visits during Homecoming on the Farm.
The Series - Arizona leads the series, 12-7, and has won seven of the last nine contests... The Cats lead in Palo Alto, 6-3, and last won on The Farm in 2000 (27-3)... The Cardinal's last home victory over Arizona came 17 years ago in 1985 (28-17)... The road team has won the last four games...The Cardinal whipped UA last year in Tucson, 51-37, accumulating its season-high rushing total of 276 yards...
The Coaches - Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65), second year at Arizona (8-8) and 15th season as a collegiate head coach (93-72-3). Mackovic has a 0-1 mark against Stanford. Stanford: Buddy Teevens (Dartmouth '79), first year at Stanford (1-4) and 13th year overall (51-80-2). Teevens has not coached against Arizona or John Mackovic.
Arizona Last Week - For the third consecutive year, Arizona played well enough to win for 58 minutes only to have Washington steal victory in the final two minutes of play. This time it was a Cody Pickett-to-Reggie Williams 80-yard touchdown pass with 2:03 to go in the fourth quarter that sealed Arizona's fate in a 32-28 Washington win. The last three games in the series have been decided by a total of 10 points. The Pickett-to-Williams heroics overshadowed an outstanding performance by Arizona's Jason Johnson, who set two school records in the contest. Johnson completed a school-record 29 passes (in 41 attempts) for a record 443 yards and three scores in the defeat. It marked Johnson's second 400-plus passing game this season and the seventh time he has thrown for more than 300 yards since becoming a starter 17 games ago. Once again, Bobby Wade and Andrae Thurman were the key targets, as each topped the 100-yard receiving plateau in the same game for the second time this season. Wade caught 10 balls for 155 yards and two scores, while Thurman tallied nine for 142. With a roster that included 13 walk-ons, Arizona did manage to put itself in a position to win by getting key contributions from some of its unknowns, including a TD from Beau Carr on the second carry of his career and a blocked field goal by Michael Schwertley. Ultimately, the inexperience showed, as 12 UA penalties for 120 yards helped the Husky cause too often. UA lost its 13th league game in 15 tries.
Cardinal Clues and Match-up Notes... -
Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. Enrollment: 13,075. Colors: Cardinal & White. Conference: Pac-10. 2001 Record: 9-3.
...The Cardinal attempt to snap a three-game losing streak (ASU, Notre Dame, WSU). The last time that happened - in 2000 - Arizona tagged SU with its first in that skein, in Stanford Stadium... Stanford has won three of its last five Pac-10 home Pac-10 games, while Arizona has won two of its last five Pac-10 road games... Stanford is one of only a handful of Division I-A teams that will play only 11 regular-season games this year... The Cardinal have interceptions in every game this year, a total of 10 - thanks to three at Boston College and four against San Jose State. CB Leigh Torrence, DT Matt Leonard and FS Colin Branch lead the team with two apiece. Leonard's the younger brother of former UA receiver Malosi Leonard... 6-foot-7, 240-pound wide receiver Teyo Johnson overmatches many a swift little DB. The power-forward hoops star leads the club with 24 catches and five touchdowns... Junior QB Chris Lewis has 24 touchdown throws in his 20-game career, (one shy of top-10 behind Randy Fasani and Mike Cordova, tied at ninth with 25). Lewis spent the last two years as the backup... (UA's Jason Johnson has 29 in his 17-game career as a regular, No. 7 on the UA chart)... SU redshirt freshman Kyle Matter (.603 completion percentage) also is getting work in the Cardinal attack... One factor that hasn't helped the Cardinal attack: SU has suffered 14 interceptions, notably nine by Lewis. That negates the defensive picks and along with six lost fumbles give the Cardinal a -5 turnover margin, No. 87 nationally at -1.00 per game... One of the SU running backs that helped the Cardinal record two 100-yard rushers against Arizona last year - the last time that's happened - is back. Keith Tolon collected exactly 100 on 12 carries vs. UA in Tucson last year, while former star Brian Allen topped out at 143 yards... Fullback Casey Moore is the rushing leader this year (266) and has started 38 consecutive games, with 15 career TDs... Kerry Carter, one of the top SU backs, has 23 career TDs, 21 via the rush... Return specialists Luke Powell and Ryan Wells pose threats on every kick and have spotted themselves on SU's career charts... Stanford's Buddy Teevens was previously a head coach for 12 years at Maine, Dartmouth and Tulane, and re-joined the ranks after two years as an offensive coordinator at Illinois (1997-98) and three years at Florida working with running backs ('99), as passing game coordinator ('00) and assistant offensive coordinator ('01)...
Injury Report for Stanford Game - SS Jarvie Worcester (arm at UW) is out. DT Brad Brittain (knee pre-UW) is out. HB Clarence Farmer (knee vs. UNT, surgery Oct. 5) is out for the year. CB Michael Jolivette (knee, practice before Wisconsin) is out. QB Nic Costa (groin pre-UO) is questionable. FB Gainus Scott (ankle, practice before UNT) is out. DT Brad Brittain (knee vs. UNT, missed Oregon, knee vs. UW) is out. OT Darren Safranek (knee) has not played and is out. DE Andre Torrey (hip) has not played and is out. CB Darrell Brooks (back vs. UNT, missed UO/UW) is questionable. OT Chris Johnson (ill, missed UW) is questionable. HB Mike Bell (toe vs. UW) is questionable. OG Kili Lefotu (elbow vs. Oregon, missed UW) is questionable. DE Javier Martinez (ankle) has missed two games and is questionable. DE Marcus Smith (ankle vs. UNT, missed UO/UW) is questionable. OG John Parada (knee vs. Utah) missed four games and is questionable. OG John Vorsheck (concussion) has not played and is out. CB Luis Nunez (groin, missed last three games) is questionable. FB Joey Willrodt (shoulder at Wisconsin, missed last three games and is questionable.
Missed Starts due to injury: 32 (Briggs-1, Brooks-2, Farmer-2, Jolivette-4, Willrodt-3, Freitas-1, Hardt-1, Fraser-1, Safranek-6, Torrey-6, Parada-4, C. Johnson-1.)
Game CaptainsThe 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 - Hugo, Wells, Freitas, DT Young Thompson. North Texas - Thompson, J. Johnson, Wade, Worcester. Oregon: Freitas, Wade, Wells, CB David Hinton. Washington: Johnson, OLReggie Sampay, Thompson, Worcester. Stanford: TBA.
Pac-10 Nominees -- Quarterback Jason Johnson (offense), linebacker Lance Briggs (defense) and DL Michael Schwertley (special teams) were UA's nominations for Pac-10 players of the week. Johnson set new school records with 29 completions and 443 passing yards to go with three touchdowns. Briggs tallied nine solo stops, while Schwertley blocked his first career field goal.
Miscellany of Late... Bobby Wade's 10 receptions against Washington moved him into eighth place on the all-time Pac-10 receptions chart with 187. He trails Stanford back Brad Muster at No. 7 with 194... Wade has 22 catches for 306 yards and three TDs in his last two games...With 50 grabs, Wade needs four more to post a second single-season on the UA's top 10 chart (62 for the No. 4 spot last year)...
...Arizona was 3-for-3 in red zone penetrations at Washington, which means that the squad has now capitalized (with touchdowns) on five of its last six red zone trips...
...Two more true freshman made their debuts at Washington, as HB Bear Carr and OL Tanner Bell saw action for the first time this season. Carr scored a TD on his second career carry, a one-yard plunge...
...Transfer DL Carl Tuitavuki and freshman DL Copeland Bryan helped to boost the UA sack totals, as each recorded a sack on consecutive plays at Washington. On the other side of the ball, freshman RB Mike Bell, in his second straight start, tallied a career-long 23-yard scamper against the Huskies...
...Sophomore Bobby Gill earned his second consecutive start as the place kicker against Washington and knocked home four PATs but did not attempt a field goal...
... Injuries have made the full roster a necessity this season. On the Washington trip alone, there were 19 freshman, 13 walk-ons and seven players that had never made an appearance in a UA uniform...
...Reserve DE Copeland Bryan, pressed into duty due to various injuries, has been in on two sacks in the past two games. DT Carl Tuitavuki notched his first sack on the Washington trip... Meantime, reserve DE and special teams middle-blocker Mike Schwertley, a former UA basketball player, blocked a field goal at UW...
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. It will be tough, with two of the next three league games on the road.
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.
No question Arizona has shown that the head coach's offensive emphasis produces firepower. 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' 443 passing yards against Washington is the biggest total in Arizona history and is the club's third 400-yard game in Mackovic's tenure. UA threw for 416 against Utah and 415 against Stanford a year ago.
Mackovic at a Glance:ï¿½ 15th year as a collegiate head coachï¿½ Overall collegiate record - 93-73 -3 (.559)ï¿½ Career bowl teams - Eightï¿½ Arizona record - 8-9ï¿½ Pac-10 Record - 2-8ï¿½ Arizona Road Record - 3-4ï¿½ Arizona Home Record - 5-5ï¿½ Walter Camp Foundation National Coach of the Year, 1979ï¿½ Conference Coach of the Year: ACC ('79), Big Ten ('88, '89), SWC ('95)
Last Time Against Stanford - Nov. 10, 2001, Tucson, Ariz.
Arizona unholstered its offensive weaponry for a 578-yard, seven-scores effort but unfortunately also shot itself in the foot several times to make it easier for a solid Stanford team in the Cardinal's 51-37 victory, spoiling UA's Homecoming and Senior Night. The loss gave Arizona a winless conference home record for the first time since 1966 and eliminated the Cats from bowl consideration. How many teams could win when allowing 50 points? Few, the Cats re-learned. Of the 16 scores in the game, nine belonged to Stanford and four gave it 20 points following UA turnovers -- two directly on fumble returns of 25 yards (Tank Williams) and 89 yards (Coy Wire). The Cardinal led 27-13 at the half, then opened 3rd-quarter scoring with Williams' play, and added Wire's return, a 71-yard run by Kenneth Tolon and a field goal to take a 51-16 lead into the final period. Arizona showed a measure of pride with 21 points in about five minutes, including scoring runs of 20 and 66 yards by Clarence Farmer and a 21-yard TD pass from backup John Rattay to Malosi Leonard. After that, there simply wasn't enough time. UA lost four of six fumbles and QB Jason Johnson suffered an interception while UA managed one takeaway to give it field position for its first score -- a slick Johnson to Farmer pass down the sideline. Arizona averaged 7.8 yards per play and 6.8 yards per rush, but were able to run only a season-low 24 times in the catch-up position -- not to mention a time of possession deficit of 17 minutes. The Cats threw for 415 yards, the third-highest total in school history. The fact safety Jarvie Worcester had 16 tackles against a team which rushed for 276 yards points out one problem: UA didn't stop people at the line of scrimmage. At the end, UA came up 0-4 in Pac-10 home play for the first time.
Air-a-Zona Looking for More Balance
The aerial attack featured so prominently in UA's first six games could use some help from the rushing game. UA is averaging 79.2 yards per game on the ground. True, All-Pac-10 halfback Clarence Farmer is sidelined, and that hurts. But the Cats have had difficulty developing unpredictability by way of the run. Against Washington, UA tallied 467 net yards - 443 of those through the air. Of the 70 plays, 41 were passes. Redshirt freshman Mike Bell carried the ball 19 times for 54 yards, but that was it. Jason Johnson was sacked five times (for the second consecutive game) for minus-38 yards, and scrambled once for plus six. The Cats did manage to score on the ground, a one-yard plunge by freshman Beau Carr, playing in his first game. After struggling against Wisconsin and North Texas, the UA passing game is back with 745 yards in the last two outings, but needs more than 80 net rushing yards to be successful. Arizona averaged 80.5 plays in its first two games, with 85 runs and 76 passes for an average of 484 yards. Since, the Cats have run 62, 62, 69 and 70 plays. Passing has netted UA 1,895 yards compared to 475 rushing this season. The play calling is split almost exactly - 206 rushes, 217 passes. Arizona never has averaged more than 255 yards passing per game in a season and is ahead of that mark at 315.8, to rate eighth nationally. UA is averaging a decent 8.7 yards per attempt and 14.7 yards per completion and will not stop throwing - but does need to run the ball effectively to avoid pointed defenses by the opponents.
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. Injuries have basically sidelined the personnel involved in some of those tweaks at this juncture, however. Arizona is 37th nationally in pass defense (193.7 yards per game), No. 31 in scoring defense (20.5) and No. 50 in total defense.
Stopping the Run
After allowing 730 rushing yards in its previous three contests, the UA defense responded with a nice effort at Washington by limiting the Huskies to just 82 net yards. The Wildcats now rank No. 74 nationally in rush defense heading to Palo Alto, and will need a solid effort against a Cardinal team that averages 154.6 yards per game on the ground (No. 3 in the Pac-10).
Senior quarterback Jason Johnson rates No. 10 nationally in total offense, directing a passing attack that rates the Cats No. 8 in the country. He's completed an average of 20.8 throws per game to rank No. 17. He posted his seventh career 300-yard game against the Huskies last week, completing 29-of-41 throws for a school-record 443 yards and three scores. His 29 completions were also a school record and career best. 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 four interceptions in 201 throws this year (.019 percent or one every 50 attempts). It took four years -- one as a redshirt, two as a holder and one solid year last season - to demonstrate that he's capable of leading a sophisticated passing attack. Aside from any numbers, his work ethic is a strong point. 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, but did suffer 13 interceptions. Now he has seven 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. Against Oregon he helped Wade achieve a career high with 12 receptions, then followed that with his record-setting effort vs. Washington. 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 (8.3), receiving yardage per game (122.7) and all-purpose yardage (155.7), plus is second in total receiving yards (736). His work last week was a bright spot, as has been the case each week. He's been named to the Shrine East-West Game roster (joining teammate Lance Briggs)... In his last nine games Wade has gathered in 74 receptions for 1,142 yards and 10 touchdowns, recording seven of his 10 career 100-yard receiving games in the span. Wade had nine catches for a career-high 175 yards against Utah, but saw his streak of five 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 187 catches. He's third in the UA record book with 21 scoring receptions, and No. 2 with 2,698 receiving yards, passing former Cats Jon Horton (2,415) and Theo Bell (2,509) vs. Oregon. His 62 receptions a year ago were the No. 4 single-season figure. He has a streak of 37 consecutive games with a reception - No. 11 nationally - and five shy of UA's record of 42 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, 13 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, and added nine grabs for 142 yards and a score at Washington. It was the second time this season that Wade and Thurman had each topped the 100-yard plateau. Nine players average more than 12 yards per catch with Justin Levasseur (20.5) and WR Ricky Williams (18.5) leading a the way. Ealy had his first career grab against the Ducks, for 28 yards, but Wade's the go-to guy. As a tandem, the 79 receptions for Wade (50) and Thurman (29) are 43 short of the school's record 1-2 punch, 121 catches in a single season by Dennis Northcutt (63) and Jeremy McDaniel (58) in 1998. With six games remaining, that total is well within reach at the current pace.
Briggs a Bulwark in LB Corps
Despite missing the Oregon game with an ankle injury, senior inside linebacker Lance Briggs leads Arizona with 44 tackles and six hits for losses. He responded with nine solo tackles at Washington last week, plus forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. He had eight tackles against North Texas 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. With 254 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 brings a full year's experience. Sophomores Pat Howard and Kirk Johnson add the youth factor. Wells posted 10 tackles against North Texas, his career high. 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. He added seven tackles against the Ducks. In the meantime, true freshman Spencer Larsen has played in all six games on the kickoff teams and made tackles on the first two scrimmage plays of his career against NAU. He earned a start vs. Oregon at whip linebacker and posted eight tackles and his first sack among two TFL. He has 18 tackles in the last three games while playing extensively. 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 notched a career-high 11 tackles against Oregon and added eight at Washington. Junior Matt Molina has started two games at whip and knocked down two passes and contributed 14 tackles. Briggs, though, is clearly UA's primary sideline-to-sideline guy with some pop in his pads and the Cats need him on the field.
Walk-on defensive lineman Michael Schwertley tallied his first career block last week in Seattle, as he turned away John Anderson's 28-yard attempt midway through the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-5 former UA basketball player improved the Wildcats' total to four blocked kicks this season. UA had blocked two punts (both by since-injured Michael Jolivette) and a field goal (Carlos Williams) prior to Schwertley's effort. Opponents have blocked three field goals (two by North Texas, one by Utah) and blocked a punt (Wisconsin). That and some difficulty in net punting (10th in league), kickoff coverage (9th), kickoff returns (111th nationally, 8th in league) and field-goal kicking (54%) have made special-teams play an adventure, to say the least. Still, the Cats are 27th nationally in punt returns (13.1 yards per play), and returners Bobby Wade and Andrae Thurman pose a threat in the open field. True freshman Danny Baugher took over the starting punter role against North Texas but has not shown the big leg he's been seen to have in practice. (Walk-on punter Ramey Peru, who had started last year and early this year, left the team before the Oregon game.) Baugher carries a 37.3 yards per punt individual mark, but the Cats check in at 30.9 in the net punting department.
St. Elsewhere Back There
Senior free safety Jarvie Worcester's broken right arm at Washington means every Wildcat starter in the secondary has been knocked out of games this year. Junior cornerback Michael Jolivette's knee injury in practice before the Wisconsin game took one of the Cats' best defenders out of the lineup. Against Oregon and Washington the other starter, Darrell Brooks, also was out of the lineup with a sore back, as was backup Luis Nunez (groin). Strong safety Clay Hardt missed a start against Wisconsin with an ankle injury. UA had to play true freshman Jason Martin in his first action of the year to back up starters David Hinton and Gary Love against Oregon. Things didn't improve last week at Washington, as the Cats closed the game with Martin and first-timer Lee Patterson (non-scholarship sophomore) anchoring the secondary with a combined one game of experience between them. Jolivette and Worcester are leadership keys the Cats miss. Arizona's off-season work in the secondary centered on stopping the litany of big plays that 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 against North Texas. Senior David Hinton started at Wisconsin in Jolivette's place, while junior Gary Love earned his first base-defense starts at corner (started at nickel vs. Utah) against UNT, UO and UW. Hinton caused a fumble and intercepted a pass vs. the Mean Green, then added six tackles against the Ducks and four at Washington. Love had three hits and broke up a pass against UO, then had three hits, forced a fumble and knocked away a pass in Seattle. Junior Luis Nunez also has played on the edge, but is nursing a groin pull. At free safety, Worcester is the dean of the secondary and a fifth-year player with three years' experience. He's the fourth-leading tackler on the club with 34 hits and has one of UA's two interceptions, but will miss ensuing weeks while his arm mends. Sophomore Tony Wingate had his first career start at the Kat safety spot for Hardt against UNT, and added four tackles, a pass deflection and a tackle for loss in extended playing time against the Ducks. True freshman Lamon Means has seen some snaps at free safety... Note: DBs have broken up 19 opponent passes in 165 attempts (11%)...
Getting to the QB
Entering the season Arizona was No. 7 nationally among I-A teams with 74 quarterback sacks from 2000-2001. Bolstered by a pair last week at Washington, the team has 12 this year with 10 players in on the action. DL Carl Tuitavuki recorded his first sack of the season at Washington, while linemate Copeland Bryan added his first solo sack on the very next play, which means the team has a modest total of four in the last two outings. 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 19 sacks on about 217 passing plays the Cats have used, decent protection considering the varying lineups used along the front. On defense, more pressure up front would help; no one covers Pac-10 receivers forever. The Cats have lost more than 60 rushing yards while giving up 10 sacks in the last two games. However, the team had 799 offensive yards in those games, so the QB's had some time.
Stepping into the Breach
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. So have redshirt freshman DE Copeland Bryan and junior walk-on DE Mike Schwertley, largely in the Oregon and Washington games. It's not exactly an old vets brigade on the defensive front. Notes: ... 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.
After failing on four field goals vs. North Texas, UA has not attempted a field goal in the two games since. 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... Gill has started against Oregon and Washington and knocked home his only kicks, six PAT attempts...
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, 26-of-75 is not a bad rate - 35 percent -- for forcing the other team into the minimum number of plays. Opposing defenses have forced Arizona into possessions of three plays or less 15 times (discounting end-of-half or eat-the-clock final possessions).
Arizona has a decent edge in third-down conversion rate with 44 percent against opponents' 37 percent. A reasonable 11-for-26 mark vs. Oregon and Washington followed two weeks of 11-for-31 converting. Yet, last season the team finished with a 39 percent rate and has used some good plays to improve. 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. Opponents have managed 33 third-down conversions in 89 tries. The Huskies were most successful with 11 successful conversion in 17 tries. Some of UA's best defensive work in that category came against Oregon - the Ducks had a 2-for-12 effort.
The Scoring Zone
Arizona did a solid job against Washington by scoring touchdowns in all three red zone penetrations. However, Washington had three TDs in its four trips, also effective. The Wildcats have scored 14 times in 20 trips inside the red zone, but only eight touchdowns. 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 10 touchdowns in 19 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: 20 Scoring Zone Possessions - 14 scores; 70% scoring, 40% TD (8)Opponents: 19 Scoring Zone Possessions - 15 scores; 80% scoring, 53% TD (10)
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 and keeping things even against Oregon. Arizona is No. 11 nationally with only eight turnovers, but is No. 104 nationally with only eight turnovers gained, rating the team No. 56 in margin at 0.00 per game. The Huskies scored after UA's interception. In the UNT game, both teams used some kicking mishaps to score miscue points - the Mean Green 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. 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 8, Opponents 8Turnover Points: Arizona 10, Opponents 35Miscue Points: Arizona 27, Opponents 38 (includes turnover, blocked/botched kick possessions
...Arizona's recent span of Pac-10 difficulty (end of the 2000, the 2001 and 2002 seasons) -- with a 2-13 record in its last 15 conference games -- is its worst such stretch since joining the league for the 1978 season. The tough part to swallow is that the Cats were competitive in all but a handful of those games. For example, the Cats have lost three straight to Washington - all in Seattle - on late fourth-quarter plays...
...The loss of halfback Clarence Farmer for the season will 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... Farmer did not redshirt his freshman year but cannot get a season of eligibility restored because he played in four games this season...
...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 next four games, so backup center Kili Lefotu started in his place at guard. He's been hurt and missed some action, too. Offensive line coach Charlie Dickey also has played mid-year transfer Matt Lamatsch at tackle. Coaches moved Freitas to guard a week into camp. He's been a tackle for most of his UA career.
...The Cats have yet to start projected (post-spring) lineups because of injuries on both sides of the ball...
...The two blocked punts by Michael Jolivette against Northern Arizona are a school record...
...Net punting is hurting UA's field position. The Cats are No. 103 nationally with a 30.9 net punting figure...
...First-time starting halfback Mike Bell scored his first career receiving touchdown (19 yards) against Oregon after notching his first rushing touchdown a week earlier against North Texas on a 14-yard jaunt immediately after UA recovered a fumble...
...The Cats' five-wide formation to open the North Texas game saw two players earn their initial starting roles - wide receivers Juan Valentine and Ricky Williams... Several more had their first starts the next week against Oregon - halfback Mike Bell, fullback Sean Jones, place kicker Bobby Gill, linebacker Spencer Larsen and linebacker Patrick Howard...
...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.
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 Stanford game will be produced by FSNA for tape-delay showing on KWBA-58-Tucson and KZAZ-Prescott in Arizona at 7 p.m. Saturday. All other games have or will be selected for national or regional cablecasts or local production by Fox Sports Net. The next game - Washington State on Family Weekend in Tucson Oct. 26 -- will be shown on Fox Sports Net National cable at 7:15 p.m.
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.