Wildcats Hold Spring Game Saturday in Arizona Stadium
April 17, 2004
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona football team closed its 2004 edition of spring practice with the annual Spring Game in Arizona Stadium Saturday afternoon. Arizona's offensive and defensive units battled each other on the field for 90 minutes during the team's final spring session. With nearly 5,500 people in attendance for today's Spring Game festivities, Arizona football continued to draw attention. The Wildcat coaching staff installed a point system for the game, and the defense came out on top with 26 points, while the offense tallied 20 points.
Following the game, head coach Mike Stoops said that he was encouraged by the team's overall progress on both offense and defense after 15 spring practice sessions, and he explained that today's game was another step in enhancing the team's overall development.
'It was a pretty good game on both sides, and we looked solid on both offense and defense,' Stoops said. 'We still have a ways to go in terms of putting in our system. We have about 75 percent of our offensive and defensive schemes in place at this time. But, we showed good signs of improvement even though it is difficult to gauge when you play against your own teammates. As a group, the team has adapted well to our system, and they seem to have more confidence.'
On the offensive side, sophomore quarterback Kris Heavner completed 12-of-25 pass attempts for 101 yards and had two interceptions. Sophomore Ryan O'Hara completed 6-of-9 passes for 100 yards, and O'Hara hit sophomore wide receiver Mike Jefferson for a 71-yard touchdown strike. Redshirt freshman Richard Kovalcheck completed all three of his passes for 60 yards, and Kovalcheck also tossed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jefferson. Junior Nic Costa completed 7-of-13 passes for 57 yards and had one interception, while junior walk-on Adam Austin saw action at the end of the game and completed 3-of-5 passes for 20 yards. The quarterbacks combined to hit 11 different receivers throughout the 90-minute period.
'I am very pleased that we finally put the ball in the end zone,' said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Canales. 'Turnovers just drive me nuts, so we have to get that corrected. The entire offense really has come a long way from the first practice, and we have jumped leaps and bounds during the last few weeks.'
Sophomore Mike Jefferson led the Wildcat receivers with three catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Senior tight end Steve Fleming had seven catches for 46 yards, and sophomore wide receiver Syndric Steptoe added six receptions for 59 yards. Senior Ricky Williams finished with two catches for 47 yards, while sophomore walk-on wide receiver Ryan Eidson finished the day with three receptions for 15 yards. Junior wide receiver Biren Ealy had two receptions for eight yards, and redshirt freshman wideout Anthony Johnson caught two balls for 10 yards. Senior tight end Clarence McRae had one reception for nine yards.
As for Arizona's rushing attack, Bell led the offense with 14 carries for 64 yards, and junior fullback Gilbert Harris rushed five times for 15 yards. Costa had a 14-yard run, while junior fullback Pedro Limon had a four-yard carry. Anthony Johnson added a rush for six yards, Kovalcheck scrambled for an 8-yard play, and Heavner had a short 2-yard pickup.
'Kris Heavner continues to get better, and he is much more comfortable with what we are trying to do. We also have to find ways to get the ball into Steve Fleming's hands and Mike Bell's hands,' Stoops said.
On the defensive side, the Wildcat defenders tallied three interceptions and five sacks, and they broke up seven passes and forced two fumbles.
Junior strong safety Lamon Means, senior linebacker Kirk Johnson and senior strong safety Tony Wingate each tallied seven tackles to lead the defensive charge. Wingate also had a sack, a tackle for loss and an interception. Senior defensive end Andre Torrey ended the game with six tackles and a sack, while junior walk-on defensive back Darius Coles and junior college transfer linebacker Randy Sims added five tackles apiece.
'We may not have a lot of individual superstars on defense, but as a team, we are doing a good job of playing within the system,' said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. 'We really have a chance if everyone continues to execute. We did not give up many big plays during the three scrimmages, and we showed that we can make some plays of our own.'
Junior free safety Darrell Brooks had an interception and two tackles, and redshirt junior linebacker Marquell Stinson had a 20-yard interception return and two tackles. Brooks and Sims each forced a fumble during the game, and redshirt freshman linebacker Dane Krogstad led the defensive units with two sacks. Senior linebacker Pat Howard finished the scrimmage with four tackles and a sack.
Sophomore placekicker Nicholas Folk converted on two field goal attempts from 29 and 51 yards, and he made his only point-after-touchdown attempt. Junior walk-on kicker Chad Werley converted on his single PAT, while redshirt freshman walk-on placekicker Adam Goldstein missed a 29-yard field goal attempt in the second half. The Wildcats did not feature any live punting in today's game.
The team had nine total penalties for the game, five on the offense for 40 yards and four on the defense for 30 yards.
After today's game, Mike Stoops explained that the Wildcat coaching staff will continue to evaluate players at every position, and he noted that a productive summer is crucial to the team's overall success during the 2004 season, which officially begins when the team reports for training camp in August.
'Physically, we want to get bigger, stronger and much faster over the summer,' Stoops said. 'In order to be successful this season, it is paramount that we have a great summer. We are not playing as fast as we would like right now, so we have to be faster and more explosive at every position. The team has a great attitude and work ethic, and I expect great things in the coming months.'
ARIZONA SPRING GAME STATISTICS
Mike Bell 2-3; Biren Ealy 2-8; Ryan Eidson 3-15; Steve Fleming 7-46; Anthony Johnson 2-10; Mike Jefferson 3-126, 2TD; Pedro Limon 1-2; Clarence McRae 1-9; Syndric Steptoe 6-59; Juan Valentine 2-5; Ricky Williams 2-47.
Offense 5 (40 yards)
Defense 4 (30 yards)
Kirk Johnson - 7; Lamon Means - 7; Tony Wingate - 7; Andre Torrey - 6; Darius Coles - 5; Randy Sims - 5; Pat Howard - 4; Keil McDonald - 4; Gary Shepard - 4; Akin Akinniyi - 3; Lionel Dotson - 3; Dane Krogstad - 3; Marcus Smith - 3; Justin Stewart - 3; Darrell Brooks - 2; Wilrey Fontenot - 2; John McKinney - 2; Marquell Stinson - 2; Jeremy Willoughby - 2; James Alford - 1; Michael Beach - 1; Brent Bolden - 1; Brad Brittain - 1; Bennie Brown - 1; Copeland Bryan - 1; Marcus Hollingsworth - 1; Luis Nunez - 1; Paul Philipp - 1; Gainus Scott - 1; Clifton Stanford - 1; Sam Stephenson - 1.