Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Football Spring Practice Notes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: April 14, 2001
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(April 14, 2001) - The Arizona Wildcat football team closed out its 12th spring practice session Saturday with a scrimmage in Arizona Stadium. Head coach John Mackovic and staff put the Wildcats through position drills for the first 30 minutes of practice, and the squad had a full-contact scrimmage that lasted 2:30 minutes.

Following today's practice, Mackovic said that he is pleased with the defense's progression through spring drills, but he is unsatisfied with the offense's performance after 12 sessions.

"We need to play harder on offense. I am not satisfied with how we've been playing on offense because we should be much farther along at this point in spring practice. I should see more improvements with the offense. We are a long ways away from saying that spring practice has been a success. The defense has more veteran players, so it's natural that I should see more from them," Mackovic said.

"After this long, we just have not stepped up on offense. While we do have younger players on offense who are trying to learn a new system, I do not think that we have competed to where we can be effective at this level," he said.

The coaching staff ran 128 plays in today's scrimmage.

"We ran extra plays because we felt that the offense needed the work. I didn't necessarily intend to run 128 plays, but we needed the extra practice. I also felt that we had to deliver a message today," Mackovic said.

The Arizona defense had 12 quarterback sacks on the day. Redshirt freshman defensive end Fata Avegalio led the way with three sacks. Senior defensive ends Alex Luna and Eli Wnek and junior tackle Robert Ramsey each added two sacks. Junior linebacker Lance Briggs had five total tackles, 4 solo, and junior cornerback David Laudermilk had five solo tackles.

"Generally, the defense has a little stinger when they play, and they have more experienced players on that side of the ball. We like what we're seeing from the defense, and I have told them to not ever let up and to keep intercepting those passes and to keep knocking those balls loose," Mackovic said.

UA's defense forced eight turnovers. The defense tallied four interceptions and recovered four fumbles. Sophomore linebacker Matt Molina recovered a Larry Croom fumble and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.

At quarterback, Arizona's six candidates for the starting job each saw duty in today's scrimmage. Junior Jason Johnson completed 13-of-21 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Johnson hit senior tight end Peter Hansen for a 3-yard touchdown strike to cap a 25-yard scoring drive. Sophomore quarterback Cliff Watkins completed 4-of-11 passes for 33 yards, and he had three interceptions. Watkins rushed for a 2-yard score late in the scrimmage.

Redshirt freshman John Rattay completed 4-of-8 passes for 72 yards, including a 24-yard pass to sophomore tight end Justin Levasseur. Sophomore Kyle Slager completed all three of his passes for 39 yards. Redshirt freshman Steve Fleming saw action in one series, completing 1-of-4 passes on the day for 20 yards. Junior Erik Garcia was unable to complete a pass (0-of-3) and had an interception.

Senior wide receiver Malosi Leonard helped lead the receiving corps with three catches for 48 yards, including a 36-yard pass from Johnson. Redshirt freshman Ricky Williams caught two passes for 40 yards. Junior running back Larry Croom had four catches for 31 yards, while senior Brandon Marshall caught three passes for 34 yards. Levasseur caught two passes for 31 yards, and Hansen grabbed a 3-yard pass from Johnson for a touchdown.

Croom added 15 carries for 37 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run. Redshirt freshman Chris Harris had six carries for 12 yards and rushed five yards for a score. Senior fullback Mike Detwiler saw limited action but had three carries for 12 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown run that capped an 82-yard scoring drive, with Rattay at quarterback.

Junior kicker Sean Keel made two field goals from 38 and 45 yards after missing a point-after-attempt early in the scrimmage. Keel's first field goal attempt from 45 yards was blocked by sophomore cornerback Michael Jolivette. Sophomore Bobby Gill missed a 35-yard field goal attempt, while walk-on Gens Goodman converted on a 47-yard attempt but missed from 36 yards.

"On special teams, I thought that we were very sloppy with our snaps and our timing. I can't accept a missed PAT or a blocked field goal," Mackovic said.

Arizona committed a total of 17 penalties (11 offensive and six defensive) during the scrimmage.

The Wildcats are set to practice in Arizona Stadium on Tuesday for their 13th session, and they will return to the practice facility for drills on Thursday afternoon. Arizona is allowed 15 spring practices under NCAA guidelines, and the Cats will conclude spring drills with the Spring Game on Saturday, April 21, at 1 p.m., in Arizona Stadium. All spring practices are open to the public.

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