April 12, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona football team held its annual Spring Game at Arizona Stadium Saturday afternoon. Arizona's offensive and defensive units battled each other on the field for two hours during the team's ninth practice session. With nearly 450 people in attendance for today's Spring Game activities, spring football continued to draw attention, as the Wildcats showcased their high-powered offense and new defensive scheme.
Head coach John Mackovic and the Arizona assistant coaches put the Wildcats through position drills for 30 minutes to open today's practice session, and then the team scrimmaged for two hours. With six practices remaining on Arizona's spring schedule, Mackovic had said that the game would take on the characteristics of a practice/scrimmage session rather than an actual game.
The scrimmage consisted of nearly 80 plays. Mackovic explained that the team tried to be as balanced on offense in terms of an even distribution between passing and running plays. Overall, the offense tallied 353 yards in total offense (81 yards rushing and 272 yards passing).
"We saw good, aggressive play in the lines, and we threw a lot down field today," Mackovic said. "On offense, we still dropped the ball too much. We tried to run a lot of different things, and we know that there definitely is work to be done everywhere."
Quarterbacks Nic Costa and Ryan O'Hara split the duty in today's scrimmage, as both quarterbacks are competing for the No. 1 position. Sophomore Nic Costa completed 10-of-20 passes for 105 yards and had two interceptions. Redshirt freshman Ryan O'Hara completed 13-of-22 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. O'Hara hit junior wide receiver Ricky Williams for a 14-yard touchdown pass and walk-on wideout Ben DiGrazia for a game-long 41-yard touchdown strike. Costa and O'Hara combined to hit 11 different receivers on the afternoon.
"Both quarterbacks are making some improvements, and they both had passes that could have been caught, which you can't fault them for that. There is plenty of work to be done at quarterback," Mackovic said.
Senior Andrae Thurman and sophomore Biren Ealy led all receivers with four receptions for 54 yards apiece. Junior wide receiver Ricky Williams had four catches for 53 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown reception. DiGrazia had a 41-yard touchdown reception for his only catch of the day. Redshirt freshman tight end Matt Padron caught a pass for 22 yards, and junior wideout Juan Valentine finished with two catches for 19 yards.
Sophomore running back Beau Carr led all rushers with 12 carries for 35 yards, and he had a 3-yard touchdown run in the game's final series. Sophomore halfback Mike Bell rushed four times for 21 yards, and junior halfback Chris Harris had seven carries for 21 yards. Sophomore fullback Gilbert Harris finished with four carries for four yards.
On the defensive side, the Arizona defenders tallied three quarterback sacks, forced two fumbles and came up with two interceptions.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Gary Shepard led the defensive units with six tackles, and sophomore linebacker Copeland Bryan had five hits and a sack. Redshirt freshman defensive end Paul Philipp had one sack, while junior linebacker Pat Howard and junior defensive end Andre Torrey each assisted on a sack. Senior cornerback Gary Love and senior linebacker Matt Molina each intercepted quarterback Nic Costa near the end of the scrimmage. Sophomore defensive end Marcus Smith and senior defensive tackle Carl Tuitavuki each finished the scrimmage with a fumble recovery.
Senior cornerback Michael Jolivette and sophomore safety Lamon Means each broke up two passes. Junior cornerback Zeonte Sherman, Howard, senior safety Clay Hardt, redshirt freshman John McKinney, Tuitavuki and junior defensive tackle Vince Feula each tallied four sacks for Arizona's respective defensive units. Tuitavuki also had two tackles for loss, while Feula and freshman linebacker Akin Akinniyi each came up with one tackle for loss.
Senior placekicker Bobby Gill converted on a 37-yard field goal attempt, and redshirt freshman Nicholas Folk converted on a 42-yard attempt. Gill also converted on 2-of-2 point-after-touchdown attempts.
The coaching staff also had the opportunity to evaluate two punters during the scrimmage. Senior James Molina had four punts for an average of 47.0 yards per punt. Sophomore Danny Baugher had three punts, excluding two bad snaps, for an average of 44.0 yards per punt.
The team had 13 total penalties for the game, 10 on the offense and three on the defense.
"I'm glad that we have two more weeks of practice," Mackovic added.
Arizona has six practices remaining on the spring football schedule. UA is allowed 15 spring practices under NCAA guidelines and will conclude sessions with the team's final practice on Thursday, April 24.