The Game: The Arizona Wildcats (1-1, 0-0 in the Pacific-10 Conference) play host to the San Diego State Aztecs (0-2, 0-0 in the Mountain West) in a non-conference game Saturday, Sept. 16, in 56,002-seat Arizona Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be produced for television by Fox Sports Net Arizona and broadcast by KWBA-58 in Tucson and KUSK-TV in other parts of the state, with Dave Sitton, Chuck Cecil and Dana Cooper describing the play. A crowd of 45,000 is expected.
Some Game Themes: ... Each team needs momentum as the game is the final non-conference tilt for both squadsWill Arizona generate more offensive yardage? Will it regain the disciplined edge is showed in its opener, somewhat absent against Ohio State? Will the Aztecs, who average a solid 19 first downs, put more points on the board? Arizona is the third consecutive Pac-10/Big Ten opponent for SDSUSDSU tailback Larry Ned gained 144 yards against UA in 1997, the most of any back the Cats played that year
The Series: Arizona lead the series 8-5 and won the last game, 35-16, played in Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego in 1998. The Cats won the last meeting in Tucson, 31-28, in 1997. Arizona is 103-67-7 against Mountain West Conference teams, including its victory over Utah to open the year. San Diego State is 11-45-3 against teams from the Pac-10.
The Coaches: Arizona--Dick Tomey (DePauw '64) is in his 14th year at Arizona (91-59-4) and 24th overall (154-105-7). He is the winningest coach at both Arizona and Hawaii. He is 4-2-2 against SDSU including a 3-2-2 mark while at Hawaii. San Diego StateBTed Tollner (Cal Poly '62) is in his seventh year at SDSU (37-34) and 11th year overall (63-54-1). Tollner is 2-1 vs. Arizona, with a couple of victories over the Cats (and Larry Smith) in 1984 (17-14) and 1986 (20-13) while coaching at USC.
Last Week: vs. Ohio State Buckeyes 27, Wildcats 17
Arizona had an opportunistic score off a fumbled punt to take a first-quarter lead, entered the half with a 17-10 edge, but couldn't get the job done in the second half as Ohio State's 17 points in that frame gave it a 27-17 victory before a crowd of 57,367 at Arizona Stadium. The Buckeyes put a bunch of pressure on UA quarterback Ortege Jenkins and finished with eight sacks to hold the Cats to 57 net rushing yards. A spate of penalties hurt both teams but one (of nine against Arizona) on an OSU punt ruined a UA defensive stop and gave the ball back to the Buckeyes on a short field for the go-ahead score. Arizona played well in the kicking game and continued an early trend in positive turnover margin (three TOs gained), and held OSU to a modest 101 yards rushing. But Buckeye QB Steve Bellisari and WR vets Ken-Yon Rambo, Reggie Germany and Chad Caccio worked for some big plays against UA's young secondary, which helped OSU's second-half cause. Jenkins finished with 11 completions in 23 attempts for 137 yards including a 60-yard catch-and-run TD strike to Bobby Wade, the Cats leading receiver with four catches for 93 yards. Arizona's total offense of 194 yards actually was an improvement over its opener (136). The Cats also had their first third-down conversions (5-18) of the season. The team that dominated the second half won, as usual.
Aztec Notes San Diego State opened with a narrow loss, 10-7, at Arizona State and last week lost at home to No. 21 Illinois, 49-13 Aztecs' QB Jack Hawley left the Illinois game with a strained neck in the fourth quarter and his status is unknown for the UA game Hawley's completed passes to 10 different receivers this year led by WR J.R. Tolver and TE Gray McNeill with eight apiece SDSU tailback Larry Ned rushed 18 times for 57 yards vs. the Illini in his first appearance following Aug. 20 knee surgery. He moved into No. 10 on the all-time school rushing chart with 1,703 career yards in shared duty the past two seasons Like Arizona (6), the Aztecs have used a number of new starters on defense (5) and had a good effort in limiting ASU to 10 points and 110 yards rushing Linebacker Brian Berg leads the club with 18 tackles, along with safety Will Demps. Demps was the MWC Conference Defensive Player of the Week for Sept. 2 with 15 tackles including three for losses and two PBUs vs. the Sun Devils Placekicker Nate Tandberg, a Lou Groza Award finalist a year ago, missed a couple (37, 47) field goal tries against ASU but knocked home two from inside the 30 against Illinois SDSU linebackers coach Charlie Camp was on UA's famed defenses from 1991-95
Arizona Coach Dick Tomey:
Tomey, 62, a member of the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees and the NCAA Football Rules Committee, is in his 14th season at UA and is the school=s -- and Hawaii=s -- all-time victories leader. Tomey is No. 8 on the all-time list of Pac-10 conference coaching victories and the leading active coach. He has nine winning seasons and two .500 years in his tenure at Arizona, plus has taken seven teams to bowl games. Tomey=s leadership and recruiting ability have helped Arizona attract players who earned 17 All-America honors during the last decade, plus Arizona had 60 players in the professional ranks during the 1990s. His players have won four Pac-10 defensive Player of the Year awards, five Morris Trophy awards for top league lineman and six major national awards -- Thorpe Award, Outland Trophy, Bronco Nagurski Award, UPI Lineman of the Year, Lou Groza Award and the Mosi Tatupu Award. He is No. 9 among active Division I-A coaches in career victories. Tomey is one of only three coaches to be the all-time victories leader at two schools, joining Bear Bryant (Kentucky/Alabama) and George Welsh (Navy/Virginia). He has suffered only three losing seasons in 23 years as a head coach.
Overall record: 154-105-7 (.593)
Pac-10 record: 57-44-4
UA record: 90-59-7 (.603)
UA home record: 59-24-2
UA road record: 32-34-2
Winningest Pac-10 Coaches By Conference Victories:
1. Terry Donahue, UCLA (1976-95) 98-51-5
2. Don James, Washington (1975-92) 97-38-2
3. John McKay, USC (1960-75 70-17-3
4. Howard Jones, USC (1925-40) 65-23-12
5. O.E. Hollingberry, WSU (1926-42) 64-43-10
6. John Robinson, USC (1976-82, 93-97) 63-23-3
7. Larry Smith, Arizona (1980-86; USC 87-92) 63-34-4
8. Dick Tomey, Arizona (1987-) 58-45-4
Starting left guard Steven Grace missed the Utah game with a left shoulder injury and aggravated the problem vs. Ohio State. He is doubtful for SDSU. Starting WR Brad Brennan missed the Utah (hamstring/back) game and played one play vs. OSU. He's probable this week, but is gearing for UA's conference opener... Starting DT Young Thompson (hand injury vs. OSU) is probable Backup FS Clay Hardt missed the Ohio State game with pneumonia and is probable for SDSU. Reserve DE Aaron Huisman missed the Utah and OSU games because of the effects of a concussion. He is questionable. Special teams player Scott McKee (hamstring) missed the Utah and OSU games and is probable.
Missed starts because of injury: 3 - LG Steven Grace (1), WR Brad Brennan (2).
Arizona and the Pac-10 in the 1990s Team W L T Pct. Bowl Record Washington 82 35 1 .699 3-5 Arizona 71 46 1 .606 3-3 UCLA 70 45 0 .608 2-3 Oregon 70 48 0 .593 2-5 USC 68 49 3 .579 3-3 ASU 61 51 0 .545 1-2 Stanford 60 54 2 .526 2-3 California 55 59 1 .483 3-1 WSU 52 61 0 .460 2-1 OSU 29 81 1 .266 0-1
A Guy Name JoeSenior defensive end Joe Tafoya returned to his natural position this year after spending some time as an interior tackle in 1999. In the opener he had two sacks and two tackles for loss among eight hits, knocked down a fourth-down pass on 4th-and-goal at the 2 yard-line, and one sack caused a fumble which UA retuned for a score. It was a nice piece of work. Tafoya was the Cats' sacks leader in 1999 with 10 and the co-leader with 14 tackles for loss in a second-team All-Pac-10 effort.
It's the Real ThingOn Aug. 16, with about 15 minutes left in UA's training camp at Cochise College, senior whip linebacker Adrian Koch, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee. It appeared that the football career of the U.S. Marine veteran was over. Seventeen days later: Koch is a game captain at Utah, makes his first career start, notches four tackles and punctuates the game with a fumble recovery and 10-yard scoring return on the fourth play of the second half to put UA on the scoreboard and in the lead at 7-3. The ligament tear turned out to be relatively minor damage to an old injury, and Koch's able to play in a brace. "When Adrian scored, I flashed back to that moment at camp when he was crying on the sidelines That turnaround is the sort of thing that makes the world go around," Dick Tomey said afterward.
A Bit of a Squeeze for O.J.UA quarterback Ortege Jenkins was a 1997 Pac-10 freshman record holder (19 TD throws), a 1998 big-play icon (somersault TD at Washington) and a 1999 thrower with 61 percent accuracy and a 144.72 efficiency rating. UA is last in the nation (102) in Division I-A passing efficiency this week after a 3-for-15 evening for 11 yards in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Don't count on the trend continuing. "I measure quarterbacks in terms of victories, and O.J. helped us get there," Dick Tomey said. "The good thing is he knows we can still win if he has a bad day."
Lance-a-LotSophomore inside linebacker Lance Briggs wasted no time in emphasizing his move from fullback to his natural linebacker spot was a no-brainer. Against Utah, Briggs had five tackles on the Utes' first nine plays from scrimmage, and finished with a game-high 16 tackles including one for a loss. He was all over the field whacking people. On 14 running plays he had solo or assisted tackles, the Utes netted 40 yards.
Secondary Steps UpSome conjecture about battles for starting spots might have been put to rest against Utah, especially in the secondary. New corners Michael Jolivette and David Hinton and safety Brandon Nash acquitted themselves well in coverage and run support, joining the elder in the secondary, sophomore free safety Jarvie Worcester. (Worcester had seven starts in 1999.) Ute receiver Cliff Russell did catch 10 balls for 141 yards, but teammate Steve Smith was held to a couple of catches and neither helped put points on the board. Utah threw the ball 51 times, a number Arizona's defensive coaches will take most any day. Nash broke up three passes, made six tackles and had a pick; Hinton had two PBU, seven tackles and an interception; Jolivette knocked down a pass and recorded eight tackles; and Worcester had three tackles and a deflection in the endzone. SS Zaharius Johnson, CB Anthony Banks and FS Clay Hardt contributed five hits.
Pressure CookerNo secondary thrives without help up front, and Arizona appears to have some renewed strength in the trenches. The Cats notched six sacks for minus-63 yards, including two caused fumbles that UA turned into points. Another stopped a fourth-down try with the game still in doubt with 10 minutes remaining. In all, UA recorded 15 tackles for losses of 74 yards. Joining Joe Tafoya (2) in sacks were whip linebackers Joe Siofele and Austin Uku, strong safety Brandon Nash and senior end Idris Haroon. One of Tafoya's hits caused the fumble which Adrian Koch scooped and scored, and the Haroon sack caused a fumble Keoni Fraser recovered for UA. The Cats' rush defense held Utah to 60 net yards, with linemen and linebackers credited with 50 tackles or assits. UA rates 20th nationally in rushing defense.
Blocked KicksAlthough not initially credited, game films show specialist Peter Hansen got his sixth career place-kick block against Utah on the Utes' final field goal try. Erect a 10-foot wall in front of a kicker and see what he thinks: Hansen is 6-foot-8, was a letterman on Arizona's basketball team last year, and has an outstanding vertical leap. Last year Hansen had three of the six kicks Arizona blocked. The Cats had 14 in the 1998-99 and appear to be in tune for 2000. Others on the squad who have blocked kicks are DE Joe Tafoya and SS Brandon Nash. Arizona had 37 blocks in the last decade and puts strong emphasis on the effort. Arizona's last blocked punt was Nash's effort vs. Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
Saving GraceArizona held out starter and second-team All-Pac-10 offensive guard Steven Grace from the opener because of a shoulder injury. He's expected back this week. Soph Aaron Higginbotham, a contender for the starting role on the right side, played in Grace's spot on the left and did a good job. With Grace's return and the potential return of wide receiver Brad Brennan - plus a good week of practice - Arizona hopes to improve on its error-free but quite modest offensive output (146 yards) in Salt Lake City.
Sky King And RugbyUA punter Chris Palic was part of UA's kicking game success at Utah, and had plenty of action. He booted a career-high 10 punts that the Utes returned for only 12 yards, putting the Cats' net figure at 36.6. The net figure was outstanding considering a number of them were 'sky' punts, there were no touchbacks and three ended up inside the 20 yard-line, plus two were 'running rugby' style to thwart returns. One of the latter was mishandled and recovered by UA. Palic, a member of the 2000 American Football Coaches Good Works Team for outstanding athletic, scholarship and community service, helped keep Utah's nifty Steve Smith a non factor. Then, too, UA kickoff specialist Chris Gray and UA's coverage unit helped keep Utes' star Patrick Dyson in check.
Even KeelSophomore Sean Keel stepped up and booted a 44-yard field goal on his first try of the year at Utah, cause for considerable optimism after UA's 6-19 season in that regard in 1999. Keel, however, now has made six of nine career attempts. The Utah kick was the longest of his career.
Red Zone Offense and Defense:Arizona scored a TD in two red zone (inside opponents' 20 yard-line) penetrations at Utah, and the unsuccessful foray was a fourth-down rush in a clock-eat mode at 1:43 remaining. On the other side, UA was superb and turned back Utah four times in its visits to the Cats' 16, 11, 2 and 19 yard-lines. The 1st-and-goal defensive stand at the 2 yard-line in the early fourth quarter underscored Arizona's off-season emphasis on smacking people.
Arizona in the Red Zone: 2 trips, 1 TD, 0 FG 1st-and-Goal: 0 (0 TD) 50% scoring, 50% TD
Opponents in the Zone: 4 trips, 0 TD, 0 FG 1st-and-Goal: 1 (0 TD) 0% scoring
UA had another 4th-quarter RZ defensive stop on fourth down along with the 1st-and-goal effort. Redshirt freshman OLB Joe Siofele came up with a 12-yard sack to give the ball back to the offense after Utah reached the 19. On the goal-line stand, the Cats stuffed two running plays (assisted tackles by Lance Briggs/Young Thompson and by Keoni Fraser/Brandon Nash), nearly intercepted a pass in the endzone (Jarvie Worcester) and knocked down a pass in the backfield (Joe Tafoya).
Sudden-Change Possessions:Arizona opened the 2000 year with one of its best efforts in years in terms of ball handling, creating turnovers and taking advantange of sudden change. UA fumbled the ball (Ortege Jenkins) only once, but recovered. Meantime, the Cats recovered third-quarter fumbles after jarring sacks by Joe Tafoya and Idris Haroon, with whip linebacker Adrian Koch putting points up on a scoop-and-score effort following the first, and the Cats' Sean Keel kicking a 44-yard field goal after the second. Those helped score 14 turnover points in a close-fought game. Later, an interception by corner David Hinton thwarted a drive into Arizona territory with 5 minutes left. A few minutes later, punter Chris Palic's rugby punt was misplayed by the Ute returner and UA recovered to take more time off the clock. With less than a minute remaining, strong safety Brandon Nash intercepted a second Utah pass to effectively end the game. 2000 Turnovers: Arizona 0, Opponents 5 2000 Miscue points: Arizona 14, Opponents 0 (Includes turnover-, blocked/botched kicks-possessions)
Cats On the WebArizona football information and information on all University of Arizona athletic programs is available online through a World Wide Web site developed in cooperation with the Total College Sports Network (TCSN) of Raleigh, N.C. (www.totalsports.net). The Arizona URL is http://www.arizcats.com. KNST Radio=s' broadcasts of Arizona games are netcast on the Internet, reachable through yahoobroadcast.com (http://www.broadcast.com/sports/ncaa/Arizona/Football/) or www.KNST.com. Additionally, all of Arizona=s home games and select road games can be tracked live at the UA web site through TCSN's ATotalCast@ programming features.