Arizona On The Air
Radio:Wildcat Sports Properties/Host Communications (Flagship - KCUB, 1290 AM, Tucson, Ariz.) ?- Brian Jeffries (Play-By-Play), Lamont Lovett (Color), Sean Mooney (Sidelines), Ryan Radtke (pregame/halftime/postgame)?- Spanish Language Broadcast (XENY 760 AM in Nogales/KXEW 1600 AM in Tucson) ?- Francisco Romero (Play-By-Play)
Television: FSN ?- Barry Tompkins (Play-By-Play) Petros Papadakis (Color)
Some Game Themes
Arizona showed it was an improved team, but missed on several golden opportunities and gave Utah a few field-position gifts that proved to be too much hospitality in a 23-6 loss to the No. 17-ranked Utes. An enthusiastic crowd of 52,790, the largest in UA’s past 22 games, watched the Cats’ Mike Bell fumble and get banged up on the first play of the game, giving Utah the ball at the UA 23 yard-line. UA showed some resilience with a defensive stand that forced a Utah field goal, but the Utes answered with a nine-play scoring drive to make it 10-0 at less than five minutes gone in the game. The Cats drove 57 yards for the first of two Nick Folk field goals ?- the team’s first in nearly a year ?- but again Utah quickly drove 67 yards in three plays to make it 17-3. Folk’s second kick pulled the Cats to within a pair of scores at 17-6 and UA held, then drove to the Utah 1 yard-line. Three rushing attempts at the single yard and a big TD were thwarted. Toward the end of the third stanza, Kris Heavner was intercepted inside the UA red zone and Alex Smith cashed it in with a second scoring toss to Steve Savoy for the final score of the game. Bell fumbled another time on the Utah 8 yard-line in the waning moments of the quarter to spoil another chance at points, as did a bad hold on a field goal attempt five minutes later. In the balance, the miscues proved disastrous. The Cats missed on three of five red zone chances while Utah was a perfect 4-for-4. UA’s defense held a potent Ute attack to just 326 total yards, but Arizona could manage only 312 despite Heavner’s 19-for-25 passing. The Cats were fighting at the end but were shooting blanks.
Arizona had a nice trend develop against Utah ?- guys you wanted to, made the tackles. Defensive end Marcus Smith (7), linebackers Sean Jones (6) and Pat Howard (5), ends Andre Torrey (5), Paul Philipp (3) and Copeland Bryan (2) all contributed 28 hits on Utah’s modest total of 60 offensive plays. Throw in strong safety Lamon Means (6) and you have some action in the trenches for a unit that has been defined by down-field tackling in recent seasons. Then, too, Smith, Jones (2) and Philipp broke up pass plays. It’s a much more active defense.
The Cats and the Badgers - The Series
Arizona and Wisconsin will meet up for the second time in the last three years on Saturday ... The Badgers scored a 31-10 victory over the Wildcats in Madison on Sept. 21, 2002, in the only other meeting between the two schools ... Arizona is just 2-7 against Big Ten teams since 1995 and is 13-20 all-time against the conference’s schools. Wisconsin in 15-25-1 all-time against Pac-10 schools ... This year’s meeting with Wisconsin marks the third straight season Arizona is playing a Big Ten school in non-conference competition (Wisconsin 2002, Purdue 2003, Wisconsin 2004) with a fourth consecutive meeting scheduled against Purdue in 2005 ... While Wisconsin is making its first-ever trip to play Arizona in Tucson, it is not the first time UW has played in the Old Pueblo. The Badgers defeated Utah, Arizona’s opponent last weekend, 38-10 in Arizona Stadium in the 1996 Copper Bowl ... UW’s only other trip to the Grand Canyon State came in 1968 when the Badgers lost to Arizona State 55-7 in Tempe.
Noting the Badgers
Fresh off a pair of season-opening victories, the Badgers head to Tucson sporting a No. 20 ranking in the latest version of the AP top 25 ... Wisconsin opened the year with a 34-6 win over Central Florida and followed that up with a 18-3 decision over UNLV ... Saturday’s game is the first road contest of the year for UW ... Wisconsin has yet to surrender a touchdown this season to its opposition ... The Badgers returned 18 starters from last season’s team, nine from each side of the ball, as well as both kickers ... Offensively, Wisconsin enters the game averaging 187.5 rushing yards per game and 150.5 yards per game through the air ... Wisconsin will most likely be without the services of starting running back Anthony Davis who is still feeling the effects from a hit in Wisconsin’s season opener against Central Florida ... Should Davis be unable to play, Booker Stanley (34 att., 96 yards) appears to be the next rusher in line for a Wisconsin team that traditionally has liked to move the ball on the ground ... Starting QB John Stocco has passed for 295 yards with three touchdowns while completing 52 percent of his passes ... Defensively, Arizona’s rushing offense will be tested this week by a Badger unit that has allowed a meager 62.5 yards per game through the first two contests ... Junior Reginal Cribbs leads all defenders with 14 tackles, including 10 solo stops and two for a loss ... Head coach Barry Alvarez is in his 15th season in Madison and has tallied a 101-67-4 record heading into this weekend’s game ... Alvarez recuited Arizona head coach Mike Stoops to Iowa in the early ?'80’s while serving as the linebackers coach for Hawkeyes.
Wisconsin and Arizona - The Last Time Out
The Badgers handed the Wildcats a 31-10 loss in Madison on Sept. 21, 2002 in the first-ever meeting between the two schools ... The victory improved UW to 5-0 on the year while Arizona suffered its first defeat of the season and fell to 2-1 ... Wisconsin pounded out 260 yards rushing on the ground and passed for 165 more, while limiting the Wildcats to just 295 total yards in the game ... Then-sophomore Anthony Davis rushed for 110 yards and two TDs in the win and former Badger QB Brooks Bollinger finished with 127 yards passing and 68 more rushing ... Bollinger passed for one TD and rushed for another ... Former Wildcat Clarence Farmer was a bright spot for Arizona, rushing for 131 yards on 20 carries, including a 70-yard TD scamper.
Knock It Down
Two of the fine defenses in the country might be two that a pair of UA leaders left ?- Mike Stoops’ Oklahoma unit and Mark Stoops’ Miami secondary. Friday, the Canes allowed only 12 completions for 108 yards and broke up five passes against Florida State. Saturday the Sooners allowed 15 completions for 221 yards and broke up two passes against Houston. Saturday, the Stoops’ Arizona unit allowed 12 completions for 170 yards and broke up seven passes against Utah. Arizona’s defenders have broken up 11 passes in two games, with three interceptions, an apparent badge of improvement.
Scoring Defense Ebbing
Aided by a 59-point outburst by eventual co-national champion LSU, Arizona opponents were averaging 33 points per game through the first two contests in 2003. It appears that the swinging door Arizona defense has made a change for the better as that number has been cut down by 20 points to an average of 13 per game this season despite playing against two schools known for their offensive prowess. Last season NAU averaged 31.5 points per game, while Utah hung 41 points on Texas A&M in the season opener two weeks ago.
A year removed from giving up 102 points in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats have yet to yield a point in the final frame this season. In six fourth quarter possessions by the opposition, Arizona has already tallied two interceptions, taken the ball away twice on downs and forced a punt. Through the first two games of 2003, Arizona had already given up 21 points in the final 15 minutes of the games.
Place kicker Nick Folk stepped up and banged a 33-yard field goal in the first quarter against Utah. It was a long anticipated moment for Nick, who was 0-for-2 in limited action as a freshman in 2003. That kick was UA’s first field goal in 34 quarters of football dating to the Sept. 27 TCU game last year when Bobby Gill connected in the third period. After that, the team missed its next six tries and basically quit trying, going 2-for-11 on the year. Folk connected on a 35-yard attempt in the second quarter to equal Arizona’s season total from 2003 and had a ?'team’ attempt thwarted by a bad snap-hold exchange later. But his work shows UA has returned the three-pointer to its arsenal.
First Half Scoring
Nick Folk’s two first half field goals against Utah marked the second straight game that the Wildcats have put points on the score board in the first 30 minutes of play this season. Although the modest two-game streak has produced only 13 points in the first half, it should be noted that Arizona failed to score in the first two quarters in eight of their 12 games in 2003. The inability to produce early points last season left the Wildcats with an average first half deficit of just under 14 points.
Steptoeing it Up
Sophomore receiver Syndric Steptoe is averaging 97.5 all-purpose yards per game and is showing signs of greater potential as he adapts to a bigger role than his punt returning role of a year ago. He has the longest reception of the year, 37 yards vs. NAU, and the most single-game receiving yards, 75, also against the Lumberjacks, plus has shown some downhill style on kickoff returns. He rates 20th nationally with a 25.3 yard average on KORs...
The return of offensive lineman John Abramo and linebacker Randy Sims to the lineup leaves Biren Ealy as the lone injury holdover from fall camp. Arizona’s leading returing pass catcher from last season has started running at speed recently after rehabilitating a foot injury that kept him out of action since early August. His return could help teammates Ricky Williams, Syndric Steptoe, Mike Jefferson and Anthony Johnson draw different coverages.
Make Some Noise
UA coaching assistants started coaching the crowd against Utah, exhorting the faithful when to make noise ?- on defense, notably third down... UA’s average attendance in two games -- 51,266 ?- would rate as its highest since 1995 (51,749) and potentially could climb as UA welcomes Wisconsin and Pac-10 opponents...
Notes and Such
No doubt UA’s staff would like to start getting an imbalance in some numbers like offensive plays and total offense. Arizona (123) and opponents (127) have similar numbers of plays, similar total offensive production (619 UA, 606 opponents) and averages per play (5.0 UA, 4.8 opponents)... The Cats have done a decent job of limiting two good passers to 5.9 yards per pass. A year ago Arizona surrendered 8.5 yards per pass... UA has shown better ability to convert on third down. The team is 13-for-28 (46%)... UA played true freshman defensive lineman Yaniv Barnett in his first action against Utah and also saw the return of junior college transfer Randy Sims, a linebacker, who missed the opener with an injury... Junior fullback Pedro Limon, a hard-working type whose exuberance is evident, caught a swing pass on a blitz and ran over two defenders for an 18-yard play against Utah to garner his first career catch... Senior Ricky Williams tallied a team-high four catches against the Utes on Saturday to improve his streak to 10-straight games with at least one reception.
Henry and Harris Help Out
After Mike Bell went down on the first play from scrimmage against Utah last weekend, back-ups Gilbert Harris and Chris Henry proved that Arizona is no one-trick-pony when it comes to Wildcat running backs. Harris rushed for a career-high 56 yards on 15 attempts while also snagging three passes for another seven yards. Henry carried six times for 21 more yards. Added up, the three Wildcat running backs finished the game with a combined 113 yards on 27 carries for a 4.2 yard per carry average.
Spreading It Around
A week after connecting with eight different receivers, quarterback Kris Heavner hit multiple targets again in hooking up with nine different teammates against Utah. The wealth was certainly spread around as receivers, running backs, fullbacks and tight ends were all included. Senior Ricky Williams was the favorite target against the Utes, snatching four passes for 58 yards, followed by Mike Jefferson, Gilbert Harris and Anthony Johnson who all finished with three receptions. Fullback Pedro Limon caught his first career pass in the second quarter against Utah and rumbled 18 yards for a first down.
Although the score didn’t reflect it, Arizona was able to move the ball effectively against Utah last weekend. Arizona had drives of 4:05, 5:48, 7:22, 4:46 and 3:40 against the Utes. Take away three turnovers on drives that lasted only eight seconds, 48 seconds and 52 seconds, respectively, and Arizona recorded an average drive time against Utah of 4:14.
Fans that have invested in XM Satellite Radio will have an opportunity to listen to the Wildcats and Badgers anywhere on the globe this Saturday. Pac-10 Station 185 on XM will be bringing subscribers the game live.
Arizona is opening its season against the same three non-conference opponents it did two years ago, with the only difference being the venue. The Wildcats defeated NAU 37-3 at home on opening day in 2002 and downed Utah 23-17 in Tucson the next weekend before falling at Wisconsin in the third week of the year, 31-10.
The Wildcat players voted on their team captains at the beginning of the year and selected offensive players Mike Bell, Steve Fleming and Keoki Fraser, as well as defenders Andre Torrey, Carlos Williams and Darrell Brooks.
The offensive line at Arizona has strung together a pretty impressive list of starts. Center Keoki Fraser leads all Wildcat players on both sides of the ball with 31 career starts, including 25 straight. Joining him along the front five are tackle Chris Johnson (22 starts), guard Kili Lefotu (21 starts) and tackle Brandon Phillips (16 starts). Add in tight end Steve Fleming’s 13 starts, tackle Tanner Bell’s seven and guard John Abramo’s five and the offensive line has combined for 115 career games started.
The Sports Group in Dallas, Texas, has announced that senior Keoki Fraser has been added to the Rimington Award Watch List. The award will be presented to the top collegiate center in the country at the conclusion of the 2004 season. The award is named in honor of Dave Rimington, a consensus All-American at Nebraska in 1981 and ?'82 ... Fraser has also been named to watch list for the Outland Trophy. The award has been presented to the top interior lineman on either side of the ball by Football Writers Association of America at the end of the year since 1946, making the Outland the third-oldest award presented in collegiate football behind only the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award ... Others added to watch lists early on are Mike Bell for the Doak Walker Award, presented to the top running back in the nation, and Danny Baugher for the Ray Guy Award, given to the top punter at the conclusion of the season.
Fling It To Fleming
After snagging just three balls for 30 yards in his first two season, senior tight end Steve Fleming is coming off an impressive 2003 campaign that saw him record 24 receptions for 252 yards and two touchdowns. His reception total from last season was the third-most in a year for any UA tight end since the Wildcats joined the Pac-10. A duplication of his numbers from last year in 2004 would place him among the top tight ends in school history. Currently Mark Keel (1981-82) holds the school record for both receptions (59) and yards receiving (856 yards) by a tight end, while former Wildcat Ron Beyer (1975-78) holds the record for the most touchdown receptions by a TE with seven.
Fans catching the Wildcats for the first time in 2004 might not recognize the team when they take the field for the first time this season. The reason? Arizona has changed the color of its helmets from primarily all white to a solid blue. The "Academic A" remains on the side, but it has no other markings or stripes and a blue face mask. The change marks the first time since 1980 that UA will be wearing a helmet that is a different primary color than white.
The solid blue helmet is the first time in school history that Arizona will take the field with head gear so colored. In looking back through photos in Arizona’s Heritage Hall, it has been found that former Wildcat great Art Lippino, UA’s "Cactus Comet", and his 1955 Wildcat teammates took the field in a helmet that featured blue around the sides with a red top. All other color photos over the years have shown that the Wildcat gridders have donned either primarily red or white bonnets.
Cat’s Picked To Finish 10th
The Wildcats have been picked to finish 10th in the Pac-10 this season, but that doesn’t mean Arizona has to like it. Head coach Mike Stoops made that point at Pac-10 Media Day in Los Angeles.
"Expectations here (at Pac-10 Media Day) aren’t high. As a staff and as a team, our expectations are much higher. When I think of the past seven or eight months, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. When I took this position, I knew it would be a challenge in the beginning. The players have made it very easy for me and they’re excited about having some success on the football field again ... We feel we’re a stronger football team than we were back in December."
Who’s Up and Who’s Down
The following coaches will be on the sidelines during the game - head coach Mike Stoops, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, tightends Steve Spurrier Jr., defensive ends/special teams Joe Robinson, receivers Charlie Williams, and offensive line Eric Wolford. Offensive coordinator Mike Canales, linebackers Tim Kish and running backs Kasey Dunn are all up in the press box along with GAs Travis Ochs and Kevin Patullo.
Cats To Face Tough Slate in 2004
After a 2003 season that saw the Wildcats play both national champions (LSU and USC) and seven other teams that participated in bowl games, the 2004 schedule couldn’t get any harder, right? Well the early forecast predicts another tough slate for the Cardinal and Navy. Right from the start the Wildcats have been tested, as opening day opponent NAU (0-2) played the Wildcats tough in a 21-3 loss. Utah (2-0), which defeated Arizona 23-6 last week, is the early pick to win the Mountain West Conference and is ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press poll this week. The Big Ten does not list a preseason prediction outside of the top three, but upcoming opponent Wisconsin (2-0), UA’s final non-conference game of the regular season, is currently ranked No. 20 in the AP poll. Once conference play begins, Arizona will face five straight games against 2003 bowl teams, including No. 10 Cal (2-0) and at Oregon (0-1). Arizona’s final month features a road trip to Seattle to face the Huskies (0-1), a jaunt to LA to face top-ranked USC (2-0) and match up with rival Arizona State (2-0) in the final game of the year for the Territorial Cup. Combined, Arizona’s 2004 opponents posted an 89-52 record last year, including a 5-3 record in bowl games.
After reviewing the game films against NAU, it has been determined that the first quarter fumble on Arizona’s second drive of the game should have been credited to quarterback Kris Heavner and not running back Mike Bell. The change does not affect Arizona’s overall numbers from the game, but does take a carry away from Bell and gives one, albeit a six-yard loss, to Heavner.
Corrected Rushing Numbers After Scoring Change vs. NAU
Bell 30 carries, 135 yards gained, 11 yards lost, 124 net yards, 2 TD, Long 14, 4.1 Avg.
Heavner 4 carries, 5 yards gained, 15 yards lost, -10 net yards, 0 TD, Long 5, -2.5 Avg
Scoring Change II
A key stroke error in the stat program listed Mike Bell as having been sacked on Arizona’s first drive in the fourth quarter. The sack should have gone to Kris Heavner, so for the second straight week, Heavner lost more yards rushing and Bell’s game numbers improved.
Corrected Rushing Numbers After Scoring Change vs. Utah
Bell 6 carries, 36 yards gained, 0 yards lost, 36 net yards, Long 12, 6.0 Avg.
Heavner 4 carries, 4 yards gained, 11 yards lost, -6 net yards, long 8, -1.5 Avg.