Thin Wildcat Squad Takes On Contented Cougs
Oct. 21, 2002
The Game - Arizona (3-4, 0-3 Pac-10) returns from a two-game road swing to play host to No. 9 Washington State (6-1, 3-0) at 7:12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, in 56-002-seat Arizona Stadium. The game will be shown live on national cable by Fox Sports Net, with Barry Tompkins and Warren Moon calling the play. WSU is ranked No. 11 in the coaches poll. It's Family Weekend on the Arizona campus. A crowd of about 48,000 is expected.
Some Game Themes - The Cats take a shot at one of the Pac-10 leaders, and the preseason No. 1 pick by league media... The Cats face a second ranked league foe refreshed by a bye week (Oregon was the other)... Each team faced Stanford in its last game - the Cougs took a 36-11 victory Oct. 12, while Arizona dropped a 16-6 decidsion last week... Dwindling hopes of an upper-division finish require a victory for UA, while WSU needs one victory for bowl eligibility and beyond... It's Jason under center for each club - and both Jason Johnson of Arizona and Jason Gesser of WSU are having some eye-catching years...It's the third consecutive season the game is being played in Tucson...
The Series - Arizona leads the series, 20-10, and has won seven of the last 10 meetings... WSU blasted UA in the Cats' league opener a year ago in Tucson, 48-21... Arizona holds an 11-5 edge in games played in Arizona Stadium. The average number of combined points in the last seven games is 63 points - typified by the triple-overtime 53-47 Arizona victory in 2000 -- UA's last Pac-10 home victory...
The Coaches - Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65), second year at Arizona (8-10) and 15th season as a collegiate head coach (93-74-3). Mackovic has a 0-2 mark against WSU, one of those in the 1988 season opener while at Illinois. Washington State: Mike Price (Puget Sound '69), 14th year at WSU (79-76) and 22nd year overall (125-120). Price is 4-9 against Arizona.
Arizona Last Week - Stanford held Arizona to no touchdowns and used a ball-control game to basically keep the Wildcat offense off the field in the second half en route to a 16-6 victory before a sparse crowd of 33,800 in Palo Alto. The Cats' first possession of the game was a harbinger of things to come, as UA was held to 3-and-out and kicked a 30-yard punt. The Cardinal drove 40 yards for a field goal to open the scoring. On the next possession, UA's Jason Johnson was intercepted near mid-field for the first of three times, and a 35-yard return by Stanley Wilson set up the Cardinal for the only TD of the day. A few minutes later a 64-yard punt return by Bobby Wade gave the Cats life at the Stanford 14 yard-line but Arizona could only manage the first of two Bobby Gill field goals. UA's best sustained drive of the game - a 10-play, 62-yard effort highlighted by runs of 22 yards by WR Juan Valentine and 19 yards by freshman halfback Beau Carr - gave Arizona its final points in the second quarter, though UA again settled for a field goal after a 1st-and-10 inside the SU red zone. Stanford mapped out the second half by taking the opening drive 70 yards in 15 plays and seven minutes for a field goal to make it 13-6. The Wildcat defense again kept SU out of the end zone despite 1st-and-goal at the UA 8 yard-line. Arizona ran six offensive plays and punted, and never saw the ball again in the stanza. Stanford drove 64 yards and threatened, but UA linebacker Lance Briggs intercepted a pass in the end zone to turn the Cardinal back. After Johnson was intercepted a short time later in the fourth quarter, Stanford drove 83 yards in 19 plays - and nine minutes - for its final field goal. In all the Cats had 20 plays in the second half. Bobby Wade had 121 yards on eight receptions, plus returned two kickoffs for 58 yards to give him 243 all-purpose yards in the game, though UA managed only 22 net rushing yards on 23 attempts. The Cardinal sacked Johnson six times. Arizona again started some new faces due to various injuries, notably true freshman Carr and safety Lamon Means.
Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Enrollment: 22,000. Colors: Crimson & Gray. Conference: Pac-10. 2001 Record: 10-2.
...Washington State appears well on its way to its best two-year sustained excellence under Mike Price, the dean of Pac-10 coaches who oddly never has had back-to-back winning years in Pullman... One reason this year - quarterback Jason Gesser and his .614 completion percentage, 16 touchdown throws and 1,894 yards - all despite some sore ribs. ... Another Jason, soph corner Jason David, has five interceptions among WSU's 10 overall... DB Erik Coleman leads the club in tackles with 52, plus has two defensive scores on a fumble return and a blocked punt return... DT Rien Long leads the club with 6.5 sacks but nine other guys have helped to give WSU a total of 25 sacks, including five by DE Isaac Brown. Long has 11.5 tackles for loss... Arizona faces a second-consecutive big receiver who has Pac-10 basketball bloodlines. Split end Mike Bush (6-foot-6) was WSU's No. 20 career scorer as a four-year forward. A year ago he was a football key against UA with seven catches for 110 yards and a score. He's among four players with 24 or more receptions and 14 total scores, led by Devard Darling's 34 catches and seven touchdowns... The Cougs' two top rushers, juco transfer Jermaine Green (5.5 ypc) and John Tippins (5.5) get yards when they get the ball. They've averaged about eight carries apiece per game in the WSU attack. Another juco RB, Jonathan Smith (4.8) also figures in the rotation and helps give the team a 4.2 yards per-carry average. (Arizona has averaged 2.2 yards per rush)... DB Marcus Trufant is among league leaders with a 12.7-yard average on punt returns... Speaking of punts: the new WSU punter, redshirt freshman Kyle Basler, has a 42.2 average and enough support from the coverage unit to give the Cougs' a decent 35.6-yard net punting figure... Place kicker Drew Dunning kicked a 35-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining then added another 35-yarder in overtime to help WSU beat Southern California, 30-27, on Oct. 5. The Cougars had 201 yards rushing in that contest against the then top-rated league defense... Dunning has hit nine of 13 field goal attempts for 79 percent success... WSU's lone loss came at the hands of Ohio State and Buckeye freshman tailback Maurice Clarett's 230-yard rushing performance. Some telling numbers in that game: WSU had minus-17 rushing yards in the second half and Gesser ended up with 44 pass attempts, about 10 above his average per game.
Injury Report for Washington State Game
SS Jarvie Worcester (arm at UW) is out. HB Clarence Farmer (knee vs. UNT, surgery Oct. 5) is out . CB Michael Jolivette (knee, practice before Wisconsin) is out.. FB Gainus Scott (ankle, practice before UNT) is out. OT Darren Safranek (knee) has not played and is out. FB Sean Jones (arm pre-SU), is out. DE Andre Torrey (hip) has not played and is out.. OG John Vorsheck (concussion) has not played and is out. CB Luis Nunez (groin, missed last three games) is questionable. OT Brandon Phillips (knee vs. Stanford) is out.Injuries have been so commonplace it's difficult to pinpoint what a 'missed start' is - Arizona's had its replacement starters subsequently injured and miss games at several positions, notably the offensive line.Missed Starts due to injury: 38 (Briggs-1, Brooks-2, Farmer-3, Jolivette-5, Willrodt-3, Freitas-1, Hardt-1, Fraser-1, Bell-1, Safranek-6, Torrey-7, Parada-4, C. Johnson-1, Worcester-1, Jones-1).
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: TBA
Wide receiver / kick returner Bobby Wade (64-yard punt return, 2-58 on kickoff returns) was Arizona's nominee for Pac-10 special teams players of the week Oct. 19, with Lance Briggs (9 tackles, INT) getting the defensive nod. Wade's punt return was a career best and part of 243 all-purpose yards, one of the top 20 all-time single-game efforts in UA history. He added eight catches for 120 yards.
Miscellany of Late...
...UA ran only 54 plays at Stanford, the fewest since it had the same number in a 38-3 loss to Oregon State a year ago on Oct. 13, 2001......Bobby Wade's 18 receptions in the past two weeks moved him into a tie for No. 6 on the all-time Pac-10 chart with 195 catches. Only five players have reached the 200 mark - Troy Walters (248, SU), DeRonnie Pitts (228, SU), Dennis Northcutt (223, UA), Darrin Nelson (223, SU) and Johnnie Morton (201, USC). Wade's tied with Dameane Doublas of Cal ... Wade has 30 receptions for 426 yards and three TDs in his last three games, a pace that puts him in reach of several of those ahead of him...
...Coach John Mackovic has one chance left to win a game in October for the first time in his UA career - this week. The Cats are 0-7 in the month, all Pac-10 games in the past two years...
...Arizona is 5-for-5 on its last five red zone penetrations, though it did settle for field goals in its two trips at Stanford - possessions that might have made a difference in a 10-point game. That had followed a 3-for-3 success in red zone penetrations at Washington (all TDs)...
... True freshman Beau Carr made a nice contribution in his first start at Stanford, rushing nine times for 44 yards including a 19-yard scamper. His first game as a collegian was two weeks ago at Washington, where he scored his first career TD on a plunge... True freshman fullback Gilbert Harris caught two passes (23 yds) in his 2002 debut vs. the Cardinal...
...True freshman free safety Lamon Means made his first career start against the Cardinal, too, and chipped in with eight total tackles, plus helped on a tackle for loss...
...Senior defensive tackle Young Thompson had a career-high six tackles at Stanford, one for a loss...
...UA has only six sacks in its Pac-10 games, compared to 16 by the opposition in those three contests... True freshman linebacker Spencer Larsen had his second sack while team leader Joe Siofele notched his fourth from his defensive end position vs. Stanford... Johnson and backup QB Nic Costa have lost 202 yards being sacked...
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.
Mackovic's recruiting success in his initial years in Tucson has provided Arizona some young talent that the program has had to count on during a year marred by injuries. Five of six junior college players signed for 2002 have played and the sixth is a projected starter (Andre Torrey) who's been unable to compete due to injury. Among a scholarship freshman class of 21 that reported in August, 11 have played, including starts by a punter, two offensive linemen, a running back, linebacker and defensive back.
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 an injury bug throughout the year has proven troublesome, and the Cats have to fight through another rugged start in Pac-10 play. With five remaining games, worthwhile program goals remain within reach.
Mackovic's first Arizona team unveiled a sophisticated offensive attack that produced a 2,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a near 1,000-yard receiver, and this year the program has moved forward in a similar direction predicated on the passing game.
Mackovic is 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 in 2001. 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:
Last Time Against Washington State - Sept. 29, 2001, Tucson, Ariz.
Arizona spotted Washington State 28 unanswered first-quarter points, snapped back with 21 of its own, then like Sisyphus rolled the rock up the hill for the rest of the way, whence it rolled back down again. The toil added up to a 48-21 loss, the Cats' sixth consecutive in Pac-10 play. Scratch the first nine minutes and maybe it was a game, since UA did some things right, but a game is 60 minutes. The Cougs managed the 28-0 lead on 13 total plays, the first a 36-yard interception return for a score 70 seconds into the game. An onsides kick helped WSU take the ball in UA territory for its third touchdown drive. Its fourth score came on a short field after one of three Jason Johnson interceptions was returned to the UA 7 yard-line. After Arizona shook out some cobwebs and drew to within a touchdown, WSU answered with an improbable 18-play, 87-yard drive to lead at the half, 35-21. That drive opened with UA stopping the Cougs for a three-and-out, but a holding penalty on third down negated that effort and a 27-yard draw-play run on 3rd-and-19 hurt again. UA, once in gear, scored on an 80-yard drive with Clarence Farmer=s 31-yard run, scored on a two-yard fumble return by Austin Uku after a jarring sack by Johnny Jackson, and scored on an 87-yard drive capped by Johnson=s 23-yard toss to Bobby Wade. But UA could not sustain enough offense to penetrate Washington State=s red zone, while WSU scored five touchdown in five penetrations. Both teams averaged 5.0 yards per play, but WSU had 84 and Arizona 53 plays. It added up to 421 yards for the Cougs, 266 for UA. The scoreboard bore a similar ratio.
The aerial attack featured so prominently in UA's season could use some help from the rushing game. UA is averaging 71.0 yards per game on the ground, better than only three schools in Division I-A. True, All-Pac-10 halfback Clarence Farmer is sidelined, and the other top guys - Mike Bell and Gainus Scott -- are hurt, too. But there are other Division I players running and blocking -- and just not doing a very good job. 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 subtracting quarterback Jason Johnson's nine runs - scrambles or sacks - at Stanford, the Cats handed off only 14 times, twice to wide receivers (who gained 32 yards on reverses). The team is averaging 2.2 yards per rush on the season and 1.0 per rush in Pac-10 play. All four losses came when Arizona had fewer rushing yards than opponents. If stopping the run is a team's first-and-foremost objective in playing defense, it's been working against Arizona. In UA's Pac-10 games, it's given the Cats some predictability, with predictable results - the defenses are pinning their ears and coming. UA's suffered 16 sacks in the last three weeks. That followed a total of nine in the four non-conference games. 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, 70 and 54 plays. Passing has netted UA 2,139 yards compared to 497 rushing this season. The play calling is split almost evenly - 229 rushes, 248 passes. Arizona never has averaged more than 255 yards passing per game in a season and is ahead of that mark at 315.6, to rate eighth nationally. UA is averaging a decent 8.6 yards per attempt and 14.7 yards per completion and can't stop throwing - but does need to run the ball more 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 some of those tweaks at this juncture and UA is doing some experimentation with young players and other alignments. Overall, the defense is worthy in one major respect -- holding the opposition to 19.9 points per game, to rate No. 23 in Division I-A. Arizona is 34th nationally in pass defense (194 yards per game) and No. 49 in total defense. In a conference loaded with offensive-minded clubs, that puts UA in the top three or four in those categories. The Cats are No. 71 in rushing defense, however, to rate UA 10th in the league at 162 yards per game allowed. Moreover, Arizona's defense hasn't been able to create turnovers, checking in at 106th nationally with nine gained.
A Tale of Two Cities
A couple of figures point at Arizona's 3-1 non-conference record and 0-3 league mark:
Non-Conf. Pac-10Game Score Average 21-15 16-26Rushing Per Game 105.2 25.3Average Per Rush 2.8 1.0Avg. Time of Possession 31:21 26:32Total Offense 392.8 355.0Total Defense 315.5 410.3Third Down Conversions 44% 38%Sacks Allowed 9-79 16-123Sacks By 8-41 6-23
Boasting About Bobby
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 (122.0) and all-purpose yardage (168.0), plus is second in total receiving yards (857). He's fourth nationally in catches per game, fifth in yards per game, sixth in all-purpose yardage and ninth in total receiving yards. It's proven difficult to stop him from doing his thing, as he's snagged 30 catches in the last three games despite notoriety among league opponents. 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. He's been named to the Shrine East-West Game roster (joining teammate Lance Briggs)... In his last 10 games Wade has gathered in 84 receptions for 1,262 yards and 10 touchdowns, recording eight of his 11 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. This year he moved into the No. 2 spot on Arizona's receiving chart with 195 catches - good enough for the No. 6 spot in Pac-10 history. He's third in the UA record book with 21 scoring receptions, and No. 2 with 2,818 receiving yards, passing former Cats Jon Horton (2,415) and Theo Bell (2,509) this year. His 62 receptions a year ago were the No. 4 single-season figure and his 58 this year tie for No. 6. He has a streak of 38 consecutive games with a reception - in the top dozen nationally - and five shy of UA's record of 42 by Dennis Northcutt (1996-99). He needs about a dozen yards to crack the UA's single-season receiving yards chart for the second time, checking in at 857 this year, and within reach of becoming only Arizona's fourth 1,000-yard receiver. 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 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. Eleven players average more than 10 yards per catch, but Wade at 14.8 yards per pop is the go-to guy. As a tandem, the 89 receptions for Wade (58) and Thurman (31) are 33 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 five games remaining, that total is well within reach at the current pace.
Senior quarterback Jason Johnson rates No. 13 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 crossed the 2,000-yard passing level against Stanford in the seventh game of the year. He had his seventh career 300-yard game against the Huskies two weeks ago, 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's 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. Last week against Stanford he suffered three interceptions and completed 19-of-30 for 244 yards in a modest effort. The picks tied his worst in that regard. He's thrown seven interceptions in 237 throws this year. He spent his first year at Arizona as a redshirt, 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. 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. He's completed passes to 15 different players this year. 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.
Despite missing the Oregon game with an ankle injury, senior inside linebacker Lance Briggs leads Arizona with 53 tackles and six hits for losses. Last week against 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 263 career hits (including 4 as a true freshman fullback on special teams in 1999), he'sl moving closer 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, 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, 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 Larsen has played in all seven 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 started last week against Stanford and added another sack among four hits. He has 22 tackles in the last four 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 16 tackles. Briggs, though, is clearly UA's primary sideline-to-sideline guy among the linebacking corps.
Walk-on defensive lineman Michael Schwertley tallied his first career block 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, 105th nationally), kickoff coverage (9th in league), kickoff returns (92nd nationally) and field-goal kicking (56%) have made special-teams play an adventure, to say the least. Still, the Cats are 7th nationally in punt returns (16.7 yards per play), and returners Bobby Wade and Andrae Thurman pose a threat in the open field. Wade had a career-best 64-yard punt return at Stanford. 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 37.4 yards per punt individual mark, but the Cats check in at 30.8 in the net punting department.
Stepping into the Breach
Coaches had to move whip linebacker Joe Siofele to defensive when projected starter Andre Torrey's hip caused him trouble in training camp. Siofele 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. Feula and Martinez have been among the injured ranks, too, so redshirt freshman DE Copeland Bryan and junior walk-on DE Mike Schwertley have seen some action. 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, which 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.
Arizona and opponents are about equal in third-down conversion rate, with UA leading 42% to 40%. Last week wasn't the best - UA was 3-for-11 while the Cardinal were 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 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.
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 again last week, when true freshman Lamon Means stepped in and started for Worcester. He contributed eight tackles and is a physical player. 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. Jolivette and Worcester are leadership keys the Cats miss. 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). Across from Jolivette, redshirt freshman Brooks wrested the top role, then was hurt against North Texas. Senior David Hinton started at Wisconsin and in the first two Pac-10 games, while junior Gary Love earned his first base-defense starts at corner (started at nickel vs. Utah) against UNT and in the three Pac-10 games. Brooks returned to action at Stanford, recording six tackles and breaking up a pass. Hinton caused a fumble and intercepted a pass vs. the Mean Green, then added six tackles against the Ducks, four at Washington and six in Palo Alto. 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 was 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.
Bobby Gill made two of three field goals at Stanford to up his season mark to 3-for-5. A 47-yarder came up short. Gill took over the starting role three games ago. After failing on four field goals vs. North Texas, UA did not attempt a field goal against Oregon or Washington, instead proving more touchdown-effective in the red zone. 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 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. Nine-for-16 overall is less than last year's 64% success rate (9-for-14, all by Keel).
The Scoring Zone
Arizona came up TD-empty in two red-zone penetrations at Stanford, settling for field goals in a game decided by 10 points. UA held the Cardinal to one touchdown in six trips, but did give up three FGs. 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 11 touchdowns in 25 eight incursions.
Arizona: 22 Scoring Zone Possessions - 16 scores; 73% scoring, 36% TD (8)
Opponents: 25 Scoring Zone Possessions - 19 scores; 76% scoring, 44% TD (11)
Turnabout is Fair Play
The Cats have held turnovers to a relative minimum, but also have not been getting their hands on the ball defensively. Arizona is No. 28 nationally with only 12 turnovers, but is No. 106 nationally with only nine turnovers gained, rating the team No. 72 in margin at -.43 per game. Three Stanford interceptions and a lost fumble hurt last week, 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 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 12, Opponents 9
Turnover Points: Arizona 10, Opponents 45
Miscue Points: Arizona 27, Opponents 48 (includes turnover, blocked/botched kick possessions
Getting to the QB
Entering the season Arizona was No. 7 nationally among I-A teams with 74 quarterback sacks
from 2000-2001. After only six in league games the Cats have 14 going into the Washington
State game. Opponents have 16 sacks in the last three games and a total of 25. True
freshman linebacker Spencer Larsen and junior DE Joe Siofele got to the QB last week.
Siofele's the team leader with four, while nine other players have been 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. Arizona had one sack at
Wisconsin and one against North Texas, both by Siofele, who is playing a different
position (DE) than his career at OLB. The Cats have lost 202 yards rushing via the 25
sacks by opponents.
...Sophomore Bobby Gill earned his third consecutive start as the place kicker against Stanford
and was two-for-three on field goals, missing only from 47 yards. He's 3-for-5 on the year...
...The Wildcats have forced opponents into three-and-out on 28-of-84 possessions. That's 33
percent of the time. Arizona has been forced into possessions of three plays or less 17
times this year on some 83 possessions (discounting end-of-half or eat-the-clock
possessions), a 20 percent rate...
...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... Each week, it seems, a new guy is making a start. Last week at Stanford true
freshmen free safety Lamon Means and halfback Beau Carr made their initial starts, while
FB Gilbert Harris saw his first action in 2002...
...Arizona's recent span of Pac-10 difficulty (end of the 2000, the 2001 and 2002 seasons) --
with a 2-14 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... At Stanford last
week the club had chances to get the lead until the last five minutes of the game...
...The cats are 0-for-October (0-7) the last two years, not a good way to start the first half
of league schedules...
...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...
...The two blocked punts by Michael Jolivette (since injured and potentially out for the year) against Northern Arizona are a school single-game record...
...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-
Arizona Football On TV
The WSU game will be shown live on national cable by Fox Sports Net, with Barry Tompkins and
Warren Moon describing 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.