Cats Try Again, In Berkeley
Nov. 12, 2002
The Game - Arizona (3-7, 0-6 Pac-10) plays its final road game of the year, meeting the California Golden Bears (6-4, 3-3) Saturday, Nov. 16 in Berkeley, Calif. Kickoff in 75,028-seat Memorial Stadium is set for 12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. MST). The game will not be televised.
Some Game Themes - UA will be home for the holidays and plays out its 2002 schedule battling for self-esteem and the future... Arizona meets the team against which it snapped a 10-game Pac-10 losing streak a year ago... Cal is 3-1 at home while Arizona is 0-4 on the road... The Cats work to avoid their first-ever last-place finish while the Bears could post an upper-division season and post their first winning season since 1993...
The Series - Arizona leads the nearly even series 10-9-2, and has won three consecutive and five of the last six... UA won last year's game, 38-24, in Berkeley... Only 39 points separate the teams in those 21 games, with UA holding a 501-462 edge... UA has a 5-4-2 mark in Memorial Stadium... The Bears last beat UA in Berkeley, 56-55, in triple overtime in 1996... Thirteen of the 21 meetings have been decided by less than seven points, with two overtime games and two ties...
The Coaches - Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65), second year at Arizona (8-13) and 15th season as a collegiate head coach (93-77-3). Mackovic has a 1-0 career mark against California. California: Jeff Tedford (Fresno State '83), first year at Cal (6-4) and overall as a head coach. He coached against UA while offensive coordinator at Oregon from 1998-2001.
Arizona Last Week- UA posted some individual season records but UCLA - which began the streak in 2000 - extended Arizona's home Pac-10 losing string to 10 games, whipping the Cats 37-7 on Homecoming night in Arizona Stadium. The Bruins took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in seven plays for a quick lead on Tyler Ebell's 22-yard run. After a UCLA field goal, Arizona answered a few possessions later with a 71-yard drive to the UCLA 9 yard-line, but settled for a field goal attempt by Bobby Gill -- blocked. The Bruins' Ebell added another touchdown of 19 yards to go up 17-0 early in the second quarter. Backup quarterback Nic Costa, inserted according to plan, scrambled on a 3rd-and-22 play at his goal-line, and found Andrae Thurman for a 92-yard scoring pass to gain some momentum, but UCLA quickly replied with another field goal and a halftime lead at 20-7. The Cats spent the second half trying to do something, but added only 22 yards in total offense on 23 plays after the break. UCLA calmly went about its business and scored three more times. One was a quick-strike TD after a 20-yard punt return by Craig Bragg gave UCLA possession at the Cats' 33 yard-line, another came on 4th-and-goal, and the final capped an 11-play, 50-yard drive marked by 10 consecutive rushes. The Bruins' total of 443 yards in offense marked the seventh time to date opponents had crossed the 400-yard mark. Overall, Arizona was held to a season-low nine first downs, 12 net rushing yards and 249 total yards. Some of the yards gave UA quarterback Jason Johnson the Arizona single-season passing record of 2,566 yards, and pushed receiver Bobby Wade over the 1,000-yard barrier for the year and beyond the career 3,000 receiving yards level. Johnson moved to within 12 yards of 5,000 career passing yards at 4,988. He also put himself within three completions of a single-season Arizona record. Arizona had little to crow about, however, dropping to 0-6 in Pac-10 play for the first time in its 25-year Pac-10 history and putting itself in jeopardy of tying the school's worst losing streak of seven games by the 1957 team.
Bears In Brief...
University of California, Berkeley, Calif. ** Enrollment: 31,000. Colors: Blue & Gold. ** Conference: Pac-10. ** 2001 Record: 1-10.
...The Bears snapped a 12-year road drought in Tempe by beating the No. 25 Sun Devils, 55-38, last week... Cal has another pair of road victories over top 15 teams - at No. 15 Michigan State and at No. 12 Washington... The Bears are experienced, with 14 seniors among its 22 regulars... To date, California's posted a five-game turnaround from its 1-10 mark a year ago, winning its most games since 1996, when it finished 6-6 and played in the Aloha Bowl... A victory over Arizona could assure Cal of its first winning season since 1993's club went 9-4... The Bears were ranked No. 23 on Sept. 15 after their 3-0 start... Three of their four losses came by a combined 14 points to nationally ranked Air Force, WSU and USC... The Bears are second nationally in turnover margin at 1.70, with a +17 edge... That comes in large part because of a nation-best 19 fumble recoveries and nine interceptions by cornerbacks Jemeel Powell (5) and James Bethea (4)... Cal recovered four against ASU plus had an 85-yard interception return for a score by DB Nnamdi Asomugha and blocked a punt Wale Forrester returned 18 yards for a score... Quarterback Kyle Boller had five TD passes vs. the Devils and cracked the Pac-10 career top 10. He has 59 in his career and 24 this year....Boller's thrown for 7,494 yards in his four-year starting career and passed former Bear Pat Barnes last week (7,360) to become the No. 2 career passing yardage man in Cal history... Boller and his mates on that side of the ball have helped the Bears rate No. 11 nationally in scoring offense at 35.6 points per game...Tailback Joe Igber has nine career 100-yard rushing games, fourth on Cal's historical list, and has 2,808 career rushing yards. He had 144 vs. ASU... Cal kickoff returner Lashaun Ward leads the league and is No. 8 in the nation with a 28.2 average... CB Jemeel Powell has a 2002 league-best 90-yard punt return for a TD in the Bears' early victory at Michigan State... DE Tully Banta-Cain has 10 sacks this year and 17 in the last two seasons...Field goal kicker Mark Jensen kicked a school-record five against Air Force and is 14-for-18 ...
Injury Report for Cal Game
Michael Jolivette (knee, practice before Wisconsin, missed 9 games) is doubtful. DE Vince Feula (knee vs. WSU, missed OSU/UCLA) is questionable. LB Kirk Johnson (knee vs. UCLA) is doubtful. FB Sean Jones (arm pre-SU, missed 4) is questionable. FB Joey Willrodt (shoulder, missed 6) is questionable. DE Mike Schwertley (back, missed OSU/UCLA) is questionable. WR Juan Valentine (ankle, missed OSU/UCLA), is questionable. HB Clarence Farmer (knee vs. UNT, surgery Oct. 5) is out. OT Darren Safranek (knee) has not played and is out. DE Andre Torrey (hip) has not played and is out. OG John Vorsheck (concussion) has not played and is out.
Missed Starts due to injury: (Phillips-3, Avegalio-1, Briggs-1, Brooks-2, Farmer-6, Jolivette-8, Willrodt-6, Freitas-1, Hardt-1, Fraser-1, Bell-1, Safranek-10, Torrey-10, Parada-4, C. Johnson-1, Worcester-3, Jones-4).
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 - 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: Briggs, Hugo, Wells, Freitas. Washington State: Hinton, J. Johnson, Briggs, OG Aaron Higginbotham. Oregon State: J.Johnson, Wade, Briggs, Freitas. UCLA: Wells, Wade, Worcester, Briggs.
Miscellany of Late...
...The Cats have been out-rushed in league games by more than a 20:1 ratio - 1,029 yards by opponents to 48 by Arizona... In jeopardy is Arizona's all-time season low of 71.2 yards per game, put up by a record passing UA team in 1966 that finished 3-7...
...Nic Costa's 92-yard pass for a touchdown to Andrae Thurman on a scramble in the second quarter against UCLA ties for the third-longest pass play and fourth-longest play in UA history. In operating under center for that series and four possessions in the fourth quarter, Costa was 2-for-4 for 104 yards, fumbled on a bad handoff and was sacked twice for minus-21 yards...
...Cornerback Darrell Brooks had a career-high 10 tackles against UCLA, while safety Clay Hardt added a career-high eight hits...
...UA's guys up front contributed quite a few tackles in the UCLA contest, too. DE Joe Siofele led with six, while DE Copeland Bryan and tackles Young Thompson and Carlos Williams had five apiece. Tackle Bobby Ramsey (3), end Fata Avegalio (2) and tackle Brad Brittain (2) and tackle Carl Tuitavuki (1) made it 29 total tackles by linemen...
...Arizona has scored a total of 13 points in the fourth quarter this year... Seven came against UW and three each vs. NAU and Wisconsin...
... Redshirt freshman halfback Gainus Scott returned to action vs. UCLA after missing six games. He led the Cats with 32 net rushing yards on eight carries... True freshman Gilbert Harris had his busiest day, rushing eight times for 23 net plus catching a pass for 12 yards...
...Junior punter James Molina and true freshman Danny Baugher each had a go of it vs. UCLA. Baugher started and had five kicks for a 42.4-yard average and Molina had three for a 50.7 average. Their success gave the Cats a 40.5 net average, tying its season best (also vs. Northern Arizona in the opener)... Molina kicked for the first time against WSU...
...UA has only 11 sacks in its Pac-10 games and came up empty against UCLA, its first shutout in the category in 19 games (since at Oregon State in 2001). Meantime, Pac-10 opponents have 35 in the six contests. Jason Johnson and backup QB Nic Costa have lost 378 yards being sacked...
...UA's minus rushing figures this year (-17 vs. WSU, -23 vs. OSU) were its first ever in its Pac-10 years. The school record is -49 vs. ASU (Border Conference) in 1958...
Arizona Head Coach John Mackovic
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.
The Last Time Against California - Nov. 3, 2001, Berkeley, Calif.
Arizona put together a package of offense, defense and special teams play to break into the Pac-10 win column and snap a 10-game league losing streak at California, 38-24. After ward there was minimal jubilation and relief, but considerable satisfaction in putting forth an effort that gave it a chance to win, and following through -- on the road. In so doing, the Cats used some of their special tools -- Clarence Farmer's rushing, Bobby Wade's all-purpose skills, Jason Johnson's pass efficiency and a number of defensive plays. One of the latter was a fumble-causing sack by LB Lance Briggs which UA recovered to thwart a Cal threat and then marched down the field in chunks for a score. Briggs didn't start because of a sore knee but made the most of his shortened presence. After trailing 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, UA splurged for the first time in the season, scoring 28 unanswered points, then adding 10 more for an insurmountable 38-3 lead at the end of three periods. Cal showed some mettle with a 21-point outburst of its own in the final stanza but Arizona had hung enough on the board to ride it out with some reserves seeing action. Farmer gave UA the lead with a 65-yard touchdown run en route to a career-high 165 rushing yards; Wade tied a school record with three touchdown receptions among his six catches for 118 yards; Johnson threw for a career-high 315 yards on 18 completions and 10.9 yards per attempt; and seven Arizona players contributed eight sacks, one shy of the school record. Wade added 75 yards on three punt returns for 187 all-purpose yards, the team's largest single-game figure of the year. About 50 other players had a hand in the victory, too. UA defenders broke up 11 passes and held Cal to a 35 percent completion percentage, and were stiff enough up front to hold the Bears to a modest 2.5 yards per rushing attempt. UA's offense averaged 6.5 yards per play. Etc. All the numbers and stats paled at the end when the Wildcats celebrated the No. 1 statistic of all: owning the left side of the score.
Pass -- or Punt?
The aerial attack featured so prominently in UA's season hit turbulence in recent weeks., though it did provide a 92-yard scoring pass and 237 passing yards against UCLA. The Cats ran for 12 net yards vs. the Bruins. At Oregon State, with UA's running game shut down, the Beavers played some good pass defense - pressure - and shut the whole thing down, saddling UA with its worst-ever total offense figure in Pac-10 play, 93 net yards. Twenty-two percent of Arizona's 58 plays ended in minus yardage (13 Beaver tackles for loss). UA is averaging 46.9 yards per game on the ground, last in Division I-A and way behind UA's previous season low of 71.2 ypg in 1966. Arizona's negative rushing totals at Oregon State (-23) and against Washington State (-17) really put a crimp on one's diversity. Total offensive yardage vs. the Bruins was 95 percent passing. Against the Beavers and Washington State (207 total) it was 100 percent passing. Arizona's yardage at Stanford (266 net total offense) was 92 percent (244) via the pass. Arizona's net offense at Washington (467 yards) was 95 percent passing (443). Play calling is not as one-sided, but the Cats are not running the ball effectively. The team is averaging 1.5 yards per rush on the season and 0.3 per rush in Pac-10 play. All seven losses came when Arizona had fewer rushing yards than opponents. UA's suffered 35 sacks in the last six weeks, so pass protection is having a tough go because of some predictability. 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 had 62, 62, 69, 70, 54, 67, 58 and 55 plays. Passing has netted UA 2,716 yards compared to 469 rushing this season. The play calling is split fairly even - 303 rushes, 354 passes. Arizona is ahead of its school-record rate of 255 yards passing per game, but the figure of 271.6 is dropping precipitously without help from the run. The Cats' 1.5 yards per rush would break the school season 'record' of 2.04 yards per rush established in 1958.
Down to Two
The Cats were 2-1 in the final three games a year ago to give the new program a jolt of confidence. UA will have to win at California and against Arizona State to match the effort. UA is mired in a six-game losing streak, one shy of the school record.
Boasting About Bobby
Arizona wide receiver Bobby Wade leads the Pacific-10 Conference in receptions per game (7.6) and all-purpose yardage (150.7), and is second in receiving yardage per game (105.8), plus is second in total receiving yards (1058)) and punt returns (13.6). He's fifth nationally in catches per game, 10th in yards per game, seventh in total receiving yards and 17th in all-purpose yardage. Despite focused coverages he's still grabbed 48 balls in six league games. OSU's overall dominance of the line of scrimmage kept him to a season-low tying four receptions for 34 yards. He had nine catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, plus added 62 yards on three kickoff returns vs. the No. 9 Cougars. He had eight catches for 120 yards and added a punt return of 64 yards and two kickoff returns for 58 yards to give him 243 all-purpose yards at Stanford. He's been named to the Shrine East-West Game roster (joining teammate Lance Briggs)... In his last 12 games he's recorded eight of his 11 career 100-yard receiving games... 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. This year he moved into the No. 2 spot on Arizona's receiving chart with 213 catches - good enough for the No. 5 spot in Pac-10 history. He's third in the UA record book with 22 scoring receptions, and No. 2 with 3,020 receiving yards. His 76 receptions this year are the No. 2 single-season figure in Arizona history and his 62 receptions a year ago are the No. 5 single-season mark. He has a streak of 41 consecutive games with a reception - in the top dozen nationally - and one shy of UA's record of 42 by Dennis Northcutt (1996-99). His 1,058 yards this year are the No. 3 total in Arizona history and became only the fourth Wildcat to exceed a 1,000-yards receiving soon. He has a chance at both single-season and career catch records:
Lance Briggs Leads 'Backers
Despite missing a game (Oregon, ankle injury), senior inside linebacker Lance Briggs leads Arizona with 77 tackles and 8.5 hits for losses. He's poised to hit the 300-tackle plateau in three years as a defensive player, a mark accomplished by only 14 players in UA history - most of those from the game-film days when coaches provided the hit lists. He had seven last week against ULCA. OSU did a good job of limiting his normal access to key gaps and he finished with four tackles, his season low. Two weeks ago against Washington State he had 14 tackles, including three for loss and a sack, a fumble recovery and two passes knocked away. A week earlier vs. Stanford he had nine tackles and came up with his fourth career interception (but first since October 2000), tipping a ball to himself in the end zone while covering Teyo Johnson. He had nine solo tackles at Washington, 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 288 career hits (including 4 as a true freshman fullback on special teams in 1999), he's in a similar neighborhood as former UA All-American and NFL draftee Sean Harris (1991-94), a swift and rugged linebacker like Briggs who's No. 14 on UA's list with 320 tackles. Beside Briggs, senior Ray Wells brings a full year's experience and has chipped in 58 hits. Sophomores Pat Howard and Kirk Johnson and freshman Spencer Larsen add the youth factor. Wells posted 10 tackles against North Texas, his career high. Howard missed the first two games after preseason knee arthroscopy, and has chipped in 29 tackles, including a career-best seven against the Ducks. In the meantime, true freshman Larsen has started four games, adding another 29 tackles and two sacks. Johnson had twin career highs with seven tackles at Washington and against Stanford.
I Got It, You Take It
Wade 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, 15 different players have receptions. Thurman had a 5-118 game vs. UCLA, his third 100-yard day of the year. He 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. He had seven catches for 89 yards against Washington State. The 100-yard game against Washington was the second time this season that Wade and Thurman had each topped the 100-yard plateau in the same contest. As a tandem, the 124 receptions for Wade (76) and Thurman (48) are the school-record 1-2 punch, eclipsing the mark of 121 catches in a single season by Dennis Northcutt (63) and Jeremy McDaniel (58) in 1998. Thurman needs six more catches to hit the UA single-season receptions chart.
Jason Johnson, QB
Senior quarterback Jason Johnson rates No. 23 nationally with 19 pass completions per game, leading a passing attack that rates the Cats No. 21 in the land. He crossed the 2,000-yard passing level against Stanford in the seventh game of the year and against UCLA became the UA record holder for single-season passing yardage. He's three completions and 32 attempts from single-season records in those categories. He had his seventh career 300-yard game against the Huskies, 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 upped his single-game yardage mark three times this year - throwing for successive totals of 381 yards in the opener and 416 vs. Utah, both among the top 6 in UA single-game individual performances, then hitting for the best against Washington. In the last four weeks, however, he's suffered some serious pressure (25 sacks) and thrown five interceptions to see his pass-efficiency rating drop to No. 47 nationally and seventh in the league. Against Stanford he suffered three interceptions and completed 19-of-30 for 244 yards in a modest effort. Against the Cougars it was 22-for-46 for 224 yards and two picks. Against Oregon State it was 14-for-28 and 105 yards. Against UCLA he was 11-for-23 for 133 yards. He spent his first year at Arizona as a redshirt and two as a holder behind Keith Smith/Ortege Jenkins before getting his opportunity last season. 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. He has seven 300-yard career passing games and two above 400. Johnson found nine different receivers in his 2002 debut, and hit 10 different guys against North Texas. He's completed passes to 15 different players this year. A graduate student in religious 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.
Sizing Up Siofele
Junior Joe Siofele was the returning starter at whip linebacker, but has filled another role, playing defensive end in the absence of projected starter Andre Torrey. Filling in is an understatement. He has 60 tackles, second to Lance Briggs, and the most by a UA defensive lineman since Joe Tafoya notched 54 two seasons ago. Siofele's total passed the most recent high numbers for a defensive lineman last week, the 56 tackles in 1995 by Tedy Bruschi. He had a career-high 11 tackles against Oregon and added eight at Washington. He had seven against the Cougars, six at Oregon State and six against the Bruins. UA's 1989 club had a trio of tackling linemen with more tackles than Siofele -- Ken Hakes (72), Anthony Smith (71) and Reggie Johnson (66), and a year earlier DT Brad Henke had 90 total tackles in 1988.
Blocks - Both Ways
UCLA blocked a field goal - the fourth such kick block this year and the fifth UA kick blocked this year. Arizona has also blocked five kicks. A year ago, Carlos Williams was a true freshman tight end in a corps stacked pretty deep. So he switched to defensive end and earned some playing time. This year he's a starting tackle and a special teams player with two blocked kicks. He blocked his second field goal of the year against WSU. A year ago, Mike Schwertley was playing Arizona basketball. In October the walk-on defensive end blocked a field goal try at Washington in the fourth quarter of a game UA could have won. UA has five blocked kicks this season. Williams blocked a field goal against North Texas and since-injured cornerback Michael Jolivette blocked two punts in the season opener against Northern Arizona. UA blocked two punts last year. 2002 opponents have blocked four field goals (two by North Texas, one by Utah, one by UCLA) and a punt (Wisconsin). As is typical of this year, even bright-spot reserve guys who make plays like Schwertley (sore back, missed OSU/UCLA) have missed playing time due to injury.
Arizona has improved its defense considerably in one respect - scoring defense - since last year. The Cats surrendered a school-record 34.3 points per game in 2001 but have trimmed that mark to 22.0 in 2002. Arizona kept its double-eagle flex defensive scheme used since the early 1990s. 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 hurt some of the options the Cats planned to use, but if the offensive objective as stated by Mackovic is to score about five touchdowns per game, then the Cats' defense is giving the team chances to win. The scoring defense figure rates No. 47 nationally. Still, this week UA faces a Cal team that's scoring points in bunches. UA is No. 3 in the league in pass defense and 53rd nationally.
Pick a Kicker
UA had one good feature against UCLA - punting. On eight kicks the club and its coverage unit the club held for a 40.5 net figure. Junior James Molina - who did not start - hit three for a 50.7 average. Freshman Danny Baugher had the first five kicks and averaged 42.4 yards. It was UA's overall best punting since the opener (43.2), but more so because of the net figure. The competition appears to be working at the position. Arizona has used two guys on kickoffs - Ryan Slack and Molina; two field goal kickers in Sean Keel and Bobby Gill; and three punters in Ramey Peru, Danny Baugher and Molina. Peru left the team to concentrate on a mid-year graduation, and true freshman Baugher started punting in the fourth game. Molina kicked off twice and punted once for 52 yards against WSU.
Arizona has converted four third down attempts in 28 tries the past two games. Overall the Cats trail in effectiveness, 42% to 36%. UA was 2-for-13 vs. UCLA and held to 2-for-15 at Corvallis, its worst of the year. Including three successful fourth-down conversions, the Bruins held on to the ball 8 times on 18 conversion attempts. Arizona faced a couple of monsters at Oregon State: 3rd-and-15, 3rd-and-18, 3rd-and-13, 3rd-and-13, etc. WSU made 10-of-18 third-down plays against Arizona, and Stanford was 11-for-20. 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. The Huskies were the most successful opponent so far 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.
Sophomore Bobby Gill had a 27-yard attempt blocked by UCLA's Brandon Chillar. He's 6-for-9 on the season. Sean Keel, the starter through the first four games, was 6-for-11. That's 12-of-20 for 60 percent, below last year's figure of 64 percent (9-for-14, all by Keel). Of late, the Cats have had trouble even getting into decent field goal range, but Gil's shown he has a good leg, with a career best of 47 yards against Washington State and a 43-yarder against OSU. Arizona missed five in a row (0-4 vs. North Texas and Gill's first of three attempts against Stanford). After failing on the four field goals (two blocked) vs. North Texas, UA did not attempt a field goal against Oregon or Washington, instead proving more touchdown-effective in the red zone. 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 Gill - who had his 44-yard attempt blocked. Keel also had a 52-yard try blocked against Utah. Gill came on for the team's final try in the opener and hit a 26-yarder in his first career attempt.
He might be able to rehabilitate a knee injury enough to make another appearance in 2002, and if junior cornerback Michael Jolivette does so it could show more of what UA's 2003 secondary will be like. Jolivette intercepted five passes and set an Arizona single-season record in breaking up 20 passes a year ago. He's been a fixture of UA's secondary since his first game in 2000. He intercepted five passes in each of his first two years (after redshirting the '99 season).
UA is 2-0 in games when it has fewer turnovers. In the rest - 1-6. Arizona and UCLA each lost a fumble, so turnovers played a smaller role, though the Bruins did score after recovering near mid field. UA had two turnovers to none by Oregon State, though the factor didn't lead to OSU points. A sack-fumble gave Washington State its first two points on a safety when the ball bounced through the end zone; and another sack caused another fumble by Jason Johnson half way through the fourth quarter to lead to a short touchdown drive. Those 10 points factored in a game Arizona lost by eight. The Cats have held turnovers to a relative minimum, but also have not been getting their hands on the ball defensively. Arizona is No. 43 nationally with 18 turnovers, but is No. 109 nationally with only 12 turnovers gained, rating the team No. 83 in margin at -.60 per game. Three Stanford interceptions and a lost fumble hurt vs. the Cardinal, while Arizona had one pick by Lance Briggs. Stanford picked up 10 turnover points after two of the mistakes, while Arizona gave its one takeaway back in a 10-point game. 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, nor against North Texas - a game in which UA scored on a blocked field goal return and with a short drive after a UNT fumble.
Turnovers: Arizona 18, Opponents 12
Turnover Points: Arizona 10, Opponents 58
Miscue Points: Arizona 27, Opponents 61 (includes turnover, blocked/botched kick possessions
Entering the season Arizona was No. 7 nationally among I-A teams with 74 quarterback sacks from 2000-2001. After only 11 in league games the Cats have a total of 19 going into the California game. Opponents have 35 sacks in the last six games and a total of 44. Junior DE Joe Siofele is the team leader with four. Opponents have lost 96 yards on Arizona's 19 sacks, while UA has lost 378 on the 44 sacks by the opposition. It's put the Cats into some drastic down-and-distance situations and basically reduced some play calling to crisis management rather than offensive nuance. Different starting offensive line units and using new untested running backs have been part of the problem.
The Scoring Zone
In percentage Arizona trails in scoring zone efficiency, and opponents are getting more chances - almost two to one. Arizona crossed midfield only 10 times in the last three games and had one red-zone penetration - resulting in a blocked field goal against UCLA. Opponents had 16 red-zone penetrations and 12 scores. UCLA had three penetrations and scored three times. OSU had seven incursions, scoring four TDs and a field goal. Bobby Gill hit a 43-yard field goal when UA reached the Beavers' 26 in the final three minutes of the third quarter. Arizona did not venture across the Washington State 20 yard-line, though it did strike from the 27 on a Jason Johnson-to-Bobby Wade touchdown. Two field goals by Gill finished drives that ended at the WSU 30 and 25 yard-lines. The OSU/WSU drought snapped a UA 5-for-5 scoring streak on red zone penetrations although two of those were field goal trips at Stanford. Arizona did a solid job against Washington by scoring touchdowns in all three red zone penetrations, while Washington had three TDs in its four trips, also effective. The Wildcats have scored 16 times in 22 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 has done a pretty good job -- opponents have scored 13 touchdowns in 31 incursions.
Arizona: 23 Scoring Zone Possessions - 16 scores; 69% scoring, 34% TD (8)
Opponents: 41 Scoring Zone Possessions - 31 scores; 76% scoring, 46% TD (19)
...Arizona nominees for Pac-10 Players of the Week vs. the Bruins were wide receiver Andrae Thurman, whose 92-yard catch for a score was the third-longest reception in UA history; cornerback Darrell Brooks, who notched 10 tackles in the team's best display of hit-and-wrap; and punter James Molina, who kicked three times for a 50.7-yard average to help UA record a net punting figure of 40.5 for the game... Cornerback Michael Jolivette, who hasn't played (knee) since the Utah game the second week of the season, earned special teams Player of the Week for the opening season after his school-record two blocked punts against Northern Arizona. He's the lone UA selection for a weekly league honor this year...
...Bobby Wade enters the California game No. 25 nationally and second in the Pac-10 with a punt return average of 13.6 yards. He's the reason UA is rated No. 14 nationally and best in the league at 14.7 yards per return. Wade had a career-best 64-yard punt return at Stanford, then helped set up Arizona's go-ahead touchdown against WSU in the late second quarter with a 34-yard kickoff return to the UA 39 yard-line.
...UA would love a piece of the red zone, score or not: The Cats crossed midfield five times vs. UCLA (once on a 92-yard TD throw), twice at Oregon State, three times against Washington State...
...True freshman free safety Lamon Means made his third start against the Beavers and had seven tackles and broke up a pass - for the second consecutive game. In his first start at Stanford he had eight total tackles, plus helped on a tackle for loss....
...Some things are equal. The Wildcats have forced opponents into 'three-and-out ' 39 times, while opponents have forced the Cats into the minimum 38 times, including nine quick possessions against Oregon State...
...UA ran only 55 plays vs. UCLA and 54 plays against Stanford, the fewest since it had the same number in a 38-3 loss to Oregon State a year ago on Oct. 13, 2001...
...UA's punted 20 times in the last two games. Its 12 punts at Oregon State were nine shy of the school record of 21 against Texas Tech in 1935...
...Frosh linebacker Spencer Larsen recorded tackles on each of the first two plays of his career, some second-half action against Northern Arizona in the season opener... Since then he's become the Cats starter at the whip/stack position... In his first start, against Oregon, he posted eight tackles and his first sack among two TFL....
...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 and since, and true freshman Lamon Means stepped in and started for Worcester. At Washington 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.
...Oregon State might have whipped UA more badly than it did had not UA's defense stepped up on some goal-line stands. A fumbled kickoff by true freshman Jason Martin gave the Beavers the ball at the UA 16 yard-line, but UA eventually held OSU's Steven Jackson to no gain on 4th-and-1 at the Cats' 7 to get the ball back on downs. A fumble by true halfback freshman Beau Carr gave OSU the ball at the UA 17 yard-line, but the Cats dug in and held for a three-and-out...
...Arizona is 0-8 in games played in October the past two years, all those the first half of the Wildcats' Pacific-10 Conference schedule each season. One difference this year: the average score in the games is 29-12. A year ago it was 43-23. The Cats allowed 73 fewer points this year in the October games.
...Junior Matt Molina started four games at whip this year and has knocked down two passes, forced a fumble and contributed 20 tackles.
...Arizona's recent span of Pac-10 difficulty (end of the 2000, the 2001 and 2002 seasons) -- with a 2-17 record in its last 19 conference games -- is its worst such stretch since joining the league for the 1978 season. This year UA had fourth-quarter chances against Washington, Stanford and Washington State, but has come up with only seven points in the stanza against league foes...
...The loss of halfback Clarence Farmer for the season took 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... For that matter, the Cats have yet to start projected (post-spring) lineups because of injuries on both sides of the ball...
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