Cats Take Week Off, Face Utah Sept. 14

Sept. 2, 2002

Arizona Has Bye, Then Faces Utah on Sept. 14

The Game - Arizona (1-0, 0-0 Pac-10) takes a week off iand prepares to host the Utah Utes in an inter-mountain contest at 7:22 p.m. (MST, 8 p.m. MDT) Saturday, Sept. 14, in 56,002-seat Arizona Stadium. The Utes (1-0, 0-0 Mountain West) play Indiana Sept. 7 in Salt Lake City. The game will be cablecast live in Arizona markets by Fox Sports Net, with Dave Sitton and Glenn Parker describing the action, and in Utah markets by KJZZ-TV.

Some Game Themes - The two teams renew a rivalry from Western Athletic Conference days... Arizona looks to protect its home turf after snatching a road victory over Utah, 17-3, in Salt Lake City in 2000... Utah works to win a second consecutive victory over a Pac-10 school after tripping up USC, 10-6, in last year's Las Vegas Bowl... UA tests a potent offense revealed against I-AA Northern Arizona against a tougher foe... Utah's last victory in Tucson - October 1967 -- came a few weeks after Thurgood Marshall became the first African American named to the U.S. Supreme Court and on the same day some 55,000 protesters marched on the Pentagon to decry the Vietnam war...

The Series- Arizona trails in the Utah series, 17-14-2, but has won seven of the last eight games including the last meeting, 17-3, in the 2000 season opener. The clubs are even in games played in Tucson, 7-7-2, with UA winning the last six in Arizona Stadium. The Utes' last victory vs. UA came in the 1994 Freedom Bowl, 16-13, in Anaheim. Utah's last victory in Tucson came in 1967, 33-29. In teams now in the MWC, UA has an historical mark of 106-67-7.

The Coaches - Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65), second year at Arizona (6-6) and 15th season as a collegiate head coach (91-70-3). He is 1-0 against Utah, coaching Illinois to a 35-24 victory in1988. He is 3-0 vs. the MWC including victories over UNLV and San Diego State last year. Utah: Ron McBride (San Jose State '64), 13th year at Utah and overall (84-57, plus this week vs. Indiana). McBride was offensive line coach for Dick Tomey's first three Arizona teams from 1987-89. He is 1-1 against Arizona and 8-11 vs. Pac-10 schools.

Arizona Last Week - The Wildcats turned in a team effort in demonstrating some potential for the program's future, pasting Northern Arizona 37-3 before a crowd of 48,446 on opening night. The offense mixed 41 passing plays with 41 running plays for 510 yards, largely on the arm of Jason Johnson, who completed 20 of 36 tosses for a career-high 381 yards and three scores. NAU, a solid Division I-AA team, took some pride in stacking against UA's running game, and held All-Pac-10 halfback Clarence Farmer to 29 net yards, but couldn't match with Wildcat receivers, who had a big part in the team converting 13 of 21 third-down plays. Johnson threw for 316 yards in the first half alone and ended up connecting with nine different receivers. Bobby Wade caught eight balls for 133 yards and two scores. The Cats came out of the gate with purpose, scoring on five of their first six possessions. UA was effective in the red zone, with four scores in five tries (and let the clock run down to end the game inside the NAU 5 yard-line). UA played a ton of new guys across the units, gaining valuable game experience. Michael Jolivette blocked two punts to set a school record and punctuate special teams' play, which was solid. Ramey Peru helped solidify his job with a 43.3 average and hang time to give UA a 40.5 net punting figure. Lots of good things happened, just the way it should be for a Pac-10 program against a Division I-AA opponent.

Utah and Match-up Notes...

University of Utah - Salt Lake City. Enrollment: 25,390. Colors: Crimson & White; Conference: Mountain West. 2001 Record: 8-4

...Utah plays host to Indiana this week in Salt Lake City... The Utes, winners over the Pac-10's Southern California in last year's Las Vegas Bowl, 10-6, opened the year with a 23-3 road victory over Utah State in Logan... Running back Marty Johnson rushed for 176 yards on 30 carries against the Aggies, while his backup, J.R. Peroulis, toted 15 times for 93 yards. Impressive was Utah's rushing defense, limiting Utah State to -9 yards rushing... Junior quarterback Lance Rice is 11-5 as the starter for the Utes, a streak that began the final three games in 2000... A host of returning starters on defense key the Utes' efforts, led by defensive tackle Garrett Smith and defensive end Jason Kaufusi, the Mountain West Conference defensive freshman of the year in 2000 and a Lombardi Award watch-list candidate this year... The Utes have a rugged reputation under coach Ron McBride and underscored it last year, playing tough against one of the Pac-10's better 2001 squads, Oregon. Utah held the Joey Harrington-led Ducks to no third-down conversions on nine attempts in a close 24-10 loss in Eugene...

Arizona in the Statistical Rankings

Category/Figure NCAA Pac-10Rushing/115.0 73rd 6thPassing/407.0 5th 1stTotal Offense/510.0 14th 2ndScoring/37.0 35th 3rdRush Def./115.0 51st 5thPass Eff. Def./65.23 14th 2ndTotal Def./202.0 15th 1stScoring Def./3.0 4th 1stNet Punting/40.5 20th 2ndPunt Ret./13.5 24th 2ndKOR/-- 98th --Turnover Margin/+2 14th 4thPass Def./87.0 12th 1stFum. Lost/0 1st-T 1st-TPass Eff./163.63 19th 3rdPasses Int./0 1st-T 1st-TRec Yds - Wade 133.0 14th-T 2ndComp/Gm- Johnson 20.0 17th 2ndScoring - Wade 12.0 16th-T 1st-TFG/Gm - Keel 2.0 8th-T 2nd-TPunting - Peru 43.3 12th 2ndRec Yds/Gm - Wade 133.0 10th 2ndRec/Gm - Wade 8.0 10th-T 1stTot Off - Johnson 373.0 5th 1stP.Eff.- Johnson 172.0 15th 3rdINTs - Worcester 1.0 10th-T 3rd-T

Injury Report

The Cats hope to get the services of a number of key players for the Utah game who missed the opener due to injury. Offensive guard Makoa Freitas (wrist surgery Aug. 24) missed the NAU start and is questionable. Defensive end Andre Torrey(hip) missed NAU and is questionable. Center Keoki Fraser (ankle) missed NAU and is probable. Offensive tackle Darren Safranek (knee) missed NAU and is questionable.. OG John Vorsheck (concussion) missed NAU and is probable. LB Pat Howard (knee) missed NAU and is probable. OL John Vorsheck (concussion) missed NAU and is questionable. CB Luis Nunez (groin) missed NAU and is probable. WR Mike Jefferson (knee) missed NAU and is questionable after surgery a week ago. Safety Justin Jochum had ankle surgery after an early August weight-room injury and is out indefinitely.

Game Captains

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 the Northern Arizona game were QB Jason Johnson, LB Lance Briggs, FS Jarvie Worcester and TE James Hugo.

Pac-10 Nominees

Quarterback Jason Johnson, cornerback Darrell Brooks and Michael Jolivette (CB) were UA nominees for Pac-10 Player if the Week vs. NAU (offense, defense and special teams). Johnson threw for a career-high 381 yards, hitting nine different receivers. He broke a 19-year-old record set by Tom Tunnicliffe by tthrowing for 316 yards in the first half. Tunnicliffe had 293 against Pacific in 1983 en route to the school single-game record of 427 yards passing. Brooks, a redshirt freshman making his first start, knocked down two passes and had a tackle for loss among his six hits, tying LB Lance Briggs for tackling honors. Jolivette set a school record by blocking two punts for UA's 'Raider' unit, one of the hallowed special teams in recent UA memory. He has a crack at the school mark of five blocks in a year set by Wally Scott (5 in 1967.

New Faces Galore

Arizona's first game marked the first game for nearly two dozen new players - redshirts, incoming freshmen, mid-year transfers and transfers. Notable were senior fullback Joey Willrodt, true freshman offensive guard John Parada and redshirt freshman cornerback Darrell Brooks, who each started. But they were just a couple of the new guys in action. Other true freshmen who played against the Lumberjacks included wide receiver Biren Ealy, defensive end Marcus Smith, center Kili Lefotu, linebacker Spencer Larsen and free safety Lamon Means. Other redshirt freshmen were halfbacks Mike Bell and Gainus Scott, quarterback Nic Costa, fullback Sean Jones, defensive tackle Brad Brittain, defensive tackle John Abramo and wide receiver Josh Duncan. Junior college transfers in the game were wide receiver Juan Valentine, cornerback Luis Nunez, offensive tackle Matt Lamatsch, defensive tackle Carl Tuitavuki, defensive end Javier Martinez. Sophomores included defensive tackle Vince Feula and junior place kicker Bobby Gill also saw his first action.

Miscellany of Late...

...Darrell Brooks and Lance Briggs each had 11 percent of UA's tackles vs. Northern Arizona, combining for 12 on 53 NAU plays... Arizona had a superb 13-for-21 third-down conversion rate vs. the Lumberjacks, giving the Cats' more than half their 25 first downs in the game. That's two games in a row (plus ASU last year) that UA has notched 25 first downs... The 82 plays UA ran against NAU is a John Mackovic-era UA high... The Cats averaged 9.9 yards per pass attempt against the 'Jacks, a superb figure... Coaches are pleased with the 40.5 net punting figure from the opener. Ramey Peru had four punts for a 43.2 yard average and NAU returned two for a combined 11 yards, plus fumbled one of them. Peru had the high average despite a 30-yard poocher downed at the NAU 14 yard-line... The 407 yards passing against NAU is No. 4 on the UA single game charts. Mackovic's teams now have two of the top five in that category... RS freshman halfbacks Mike Bell (4.5 ypc) and Gainus Scott (4.7) each showed some spark with the ball... The tight end factored against NAU, with Togie Hugo catching a 20-yard scoring pass and Justin Levasseur snagging another for 23 markers... Sean Keel made two of three FG tries vs. NAU, then gave way to Bobby Gill for his first career attempt (good from 26 yards)...

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