Head Coach Mike Stoops Encouraged After Football Scrimmage Friday

April 9, 2004

TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona football team held a controlled scrimmage Friday afternoon in Arizona Stadium. Spring football practice continued to draw attention during the team's 11th session, with nearly 150 people in attendance. The scrimmage consisted of approximately 90 plays, and the team practiced for two hours without any scoring.

Head coach Mike Stoops was encouraged by the team's progress on both sides of the ball following today's scrimmage, but he recognizes that the team must continue to improve.

'Well, I saw a lot of good things on both sides today,' Stoops said. 'The dropped balls, penalties and turnovers really hurt us, and it is frustrating to see that we are keeping ourselves from moving the ball on offense. We definitely need better execution in some critical areas, and we have to continue to improve.'

In terms of the situation at quarterback, junior Nic Costa, sophomore Kris Heavner, redshirt freshman Richard Kovalcheck and sophomore Ryan O'Hara shared the duty under center in today's scrimmage. Costa completed 8-of-18 passes for 59 yards and had one interception. Heavner completed 6-of-11 passes for 46 yards, Kovalcheck completed 7-of-12 passes for 41 yards, and O'Hara completed 4-of-11 attempts for 46 yards. The four quarterbacks combined to hit eight different receivers throughout the two-hour period.

'We are going to look at the tape from today's scrimmage, and we are going to come to some kind of a conclusion (about naming a starting quarterback). We are going to try to settle on one guy or possibly two because we want to get some continuity going for the last four days of spring practice,' Stoops added.

Senior wide receiver Juan Valentine led all receivers with five catches for 61 yards. Senior Ricky Williams had five catches for 30 yards, and junior running back Mike Bell added four receptions for 28 yards. Junior fullback Gilbert Harris had three catches for 26 yards, while redshirt freshman Anthony Johnson caught three balls for 19 yards. Junior Biren Ealy had two receptions for 11 yards, redshirt freshman running back Chris Henry had two catches for 12 yards, and junior walk-on Jerome Parker rounded out the group with one catch for 13 yards.

Junior running back Gilbert Harris led all rushers with 11 carries for 30 yards. Redshirt freshman Chris Henry also rushed 11 times for 22 yards, while junior Mike Bell finished with eight carries for 34 yards. Junior quarterback Nic Costa added four rushes for 32 yards.

On the defensive side, the Wildcat defenders tallied nine quarterback sacks, broke up seven passes, blocked a punt and recovered a fumble.

Junior linebacker Sean Jones, who moved from fullback to linebacker at the beginning of spring drills, led the defensive units with 10 tackles. Jones also broke up three passes during the scrimmage.

'Sean has been a real pleasant surprise,' Stoops said. He has a great knack, and he is a great person on the field. He has a chance to be a really good player. His speed and quickness have been very impressive so far.'

Junior college transfer linebacker Randy Sims and senior strong safety Tony Wingate each finished the scrimmage with five tackles apiece. Sophomore defensive tackle Clifton Stanford, junior defensive end Marcus Smith, redshirt freshman defensive end Lionel Dotson and senior tackle Carlos Williams each added four tackles. Dotson also led the defensive units with three sacks, while sophomore strong safety Gary Shepard and redshirt freshman linebacker Dane Krogstad each came up with one tackle for loss.

Senior cornerback Luis Nunez, Sims, Smith, senior defensive end Andre Torrey and sophomore defensive tackle Paul Phillip each had a sack, while Stanford and redshirt freshman defensive end Jason Parker assisted on a sack. Senior wideout Juan Valentine blocked a punt, while junior tackle Jeremy Willoughby recovered a fumble.

Sophomore placekicker Nicholas Folk converted on 6-of-8 field goal attempts (30, 34, 36, 39, 42, 45). Folk's two misses came from 27 yards and 42 yards. The coaching staff also had the opportunity to evaluate junior punter Danny Baugher, who punted five times (26, 39, 51, 45, 44) for a 41.0 yards-per-punt average.

The team had nine total penalties for the scrimmage, four on the offense and five on the defense.

Following today's scrimmage, Stoops explained that the Wildcat coaching staff will continue to evaluate players at every position, and he noted that the coaches' primary goal is to put the team's best players on the field at any given time.

'We are going to find the best people on both sides of the ball,' Stoops said. 'The players are going to have to continue earning their way onto the field. We are going to do whatever we can to put our best 11 players on the field. We are going to continue to upgrade our personnel, and we are only going to move players to different positions in order to improve our team and to put those players in positions where they can be successful.'

The Wildcats will take the weekend off and begin their final week of spring drills on Tuesday, April 13, at 4 p.m., in the UA practice facility. Arizona has four practices remaining on spring schedule, including the team's annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 17, at 2 p.m., in Arizona Stadium. Spring drills are scheduled to end on Tuesday, April 20.

SCRIMMAGE STATISTICS

PASSING: Nic Costa 8-18-1-59; Kris Heavner 6-11-0-46; Richard Kovalcheck 7-12-0-41; Ryan O'Hara 4-11-0-46.

RUSHING: Mike Bell 8-34; Nic Costa 4-32; Gilbert Harris 11-30; Chris Henry 11-22.

RECEIVING: Mike Bell 4-28; Biren Ealy 2-11; Gilbert Harris 3-26; Chris Henry 2-12; Anthony Johnson 3-19; Jerome Parker 1-13; Juan Valentine 5-61; Ricky Williams 5-30.

PUNTING: Danny Baugher - 5 (26, 39, 51, 45, 44); 41.0 average

FIELD GOALS: Nicholas Folk - 27, 30, 34, 36, 39, 42, 42, 45

PENALTIES: Offense: 4 (I holding, 3 false start). Defense: 5 (face mask, personal foul, 3 offside)

TACKLES: Sean Jones - 10; Randy Sims - 5; Tony Wingate - 5; Clifton Stanford - 4; Marcus Smith - 4; Lionel Dotson - 4; Carlos Williams - 4; Lamon Means - 3; Paul Philipp - 3; Gainus Scott - 3; Dane Krogstad - 3; Andre Torrey - 2; Keil McDonald - 2; Luis Nunez - 2; Wilrey Fontenot - 2; Michael Beach - 2; Darrell Brooks - 2; Justin Stewart - 2; John McKinney - 2; Jeremy Willoughby - 2; Marcus Hollingsworth - 2; Darius Coles - 1; Pat Howard - 1; Marquell Stinson - 1; Jason Parker - 1; Brent Bolden - 1; Akin Akinniyi - 1.

SACKS: Lionel Dotson - 3; Luis Nunez - 1; Randy Sims - 1; Marcus Smith - 1; Andre Torrey - 1; Paul Philipp - 1; Jason Parker - 0.5; Clifton Stanford - 0.5.

TFL: Gary Shepard - 1, Dane Krogstad - 1.

PBU: Sean Jones - 3, Wilrey Fontenot - 1, Gary Shepard - 1, Tony Wingate - 1, Andre Torrey - 1.

Other: Juan Valentine - blocked punt; Jeremy Willoughby - fumble recovery.

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