Defense Shines in Spring Football Scrimmage

April 3, 2004

TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona football team marked the midpoint of spring practice Saturday morning with a scrimmage at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcat defense certainly came ready to play.

The UA defense tallied five interceptions and 10 sacks in the 88-play scrimmage. Along the way, the group thwarted all but one of the offense's scoring opportunities. Perhaps the defense's advantage came from a little direct supervision from first-year head coach Mike Stoops.

'I'm getting more comfortable every day,' said Stoops. 'I still find myself very involved with our defense, but that's something that has to take place. We're making strides with our defense and that's what we have to do to get better.'

Leading the way in Saturday's scrimmage was sophomore linebacker John McKinney, who collected an interception and added two sacks. His 47-yard interception return for a touchdown was one of three UA defensive touchdowns on the day. Junior strong safety Lamon Means took one 100 yards for the score, while senior linebacker added one from 28 yards out.

There were several standouts on offense as well. Redshirt freshman quarterback Richard Kovalcheck completed 5-of-7 passes on the day for 71 yards and one touchdown. The native of San Diego, Cailf., hooked up with sophomore wide receiver Mike Jefferson for a 45-yard pass play, which amounted to UA's only offensive score of the day.

Additionally, junior running back Mike Bell amassed 48 yards on nine carries, while sophomore receiver Syndric Steptoe had three receptions for 52 yards.

'We got good looks from our offense,' said Stoops. 'The execution isn't great right now, but it will get better. The thing that pleases me most is that the guys care. That's all that matters. As long as they continue to work, we will get better. I like the way we are coming together.'

Scrimmage Statistics:
RUSHING - Bell 9-48; Costa 2-16; G. Harris 4-14; O'Hara 2-11; Shirley 2-9; ; Limon 2-0; C. Harris 1-(-2); Henry 7-(-3).

PASSING - Kovalcheck 7-5-0-71, 1 TD; O'Hara 11-6-1-51; Costa 9-4-1-46; Heavner 10-5-2-37; Austin 4-1-1-5.

RECEIVING - Steptoe 3-52; Jefferson 1-45, 1 TD; Johnson 3-26; Fleming 2-24; Williams 3-20; Ealy 2-15; G. Harris 1-11; Henry 2-5; Sheehan 1-5; Bell 1-1.

KICKING - Folk 4-6 FG.

DEFENSE - Interceptions: Bolden, Parker, Johnson (28 return yds, TD); Means (100 return yds., TD); McKinney (47 return yds., TD). Sacks: McKinney 2; Wingate; Krogstad; Sherman; Means; Bryan; Parker; Dotson; Stanford.

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