Nov. 4, 2002
Cats Try Again for a League Win, vs. Buins
The Game - Arizona (3-6, 0-5 Pac-10) opens the fourth quarter of a 12-game season with a home game against the UCLA Bruins (6-3, 3-2) at 7:07 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, in 56,002-seat Arizona Stadium. The game will be produced by Fox Sports Net Arizona for tape delay showing at 1 p.m. (MST) Sunday on Fox Sports Net Arizona, with Dave Sitton and Glenn Parker calling the play. The game also will be shown live in the Los Angeles market by Fox Sports Net West2. It's Homecoming on the UA campus. A crowd of 48,000 is expected.
Some Game Themes - Arizona continues its quest for a Pac-10 victory, working to avoid an 0-6 league record, something it's never had in 24 previous years of Pac-10 play... UCLA looks to solidify an upper division bowl bid, while UA still has a mathematical chance... UA takes on one the league's top pass defenses...UA meets the team whose narrow victory in the last meeting knocked the Cats from their most recent national ranking (October 2000)... Arizona simply looks for some positive running yards after consecutive games in rushing red ink... The Bruins are 4-1 on the road this year, while UA is 3-2 at home...
The Series - Arizona trails in the series, 15-9-2, although the match is deadlocked at six victories apiece in the last 12 games... The teams did not meet last year... UCLA won the last game, 27-24, in Tucson (2000) and Arizona won the last game, 33-7, in Los Angeles, in 1999... Arizona holds a 7-6 mark against UCLA in Tucson...
The Coaches - Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65), second year at Arizona (8-12) and 15th season as a collegiate head coach (93-76-3). Mackovic has a 0-1 career mark against UCLA - the Bruins beat his No. 12 Texas Longhorns, 66-3, early in the 1997 season. UCLA: Bob Toledo (San Francisco State '68), seventh year in Westwood (48-30) and 12th year overall (77-66). Toledo is 3-2 against Arizona.
Arizona Last Week - Oregon State dispensed with the notion that bad luck plays a role in UA football and simply dominated from the onset in a 38-3 victory over the Cats in Corvallis. The score was d?j? vu from 2001, but the performance by the Beavers was even better. OSU took the opening kickoff and moved 65 yards in 11 plays for the first score, and scored two more touchdowns on its next three possessions - the last an 86-yard bomb from Derek Anderson to James Newson - while Arizona struggled offensively. Three of UA's first five possessions were three plays or less, and for negative yardage. The Beavers' ultimate six-sack and seven-tackles-for-loss defensive effort was in evidence early. In all, the Wildcats finished with nine possessions of three plays or less and were hit behind the line enough times to result in negative-23 yards rushing, its first sub-zero game in its Pac-10 history. Too, OSU's swarming defense held UA to a Pac-10 historical low in total offense of 93 yards, worse than the previous record 139 vs. USC in 1980. The Cats were not without some positives - a pair of goal-line stands turned OSU back twice, turnovers did not factor, time of possession was nearly equal - but the Beavers dominated up front with 193 rushing yards, and 264 passing yards for 457 total, and simply stopped everything Arizona tried. UA ended up with a 1.6 yard average on 58 plays, and punted 12 times. A shutout looked possible until a 29-yard run by UA freshman Beau Carr moved Arizona into OSU territory for only the second time in the game, late in the third quarter. Three short pass completions by Jason Johnson later, Bobby Gill knocked home a 43-yard field goal to put the Cats on the board at 31-3. The rest of the game - and most of it, for that matter - was a blur.
Bruins Bits... University of California, Los Angeles. ** Enrollment: 34,000. Colors: Blue & Gold. ** Conference: Pac-10. ** 2001 Record: 7-4. ...Redshirt freshman tailback Tyler Ebell, he of the 203-yard off-the-bench debut against Oregon State in UCLA's fifth game this year, added 119 yards against Oregon, 102 against California, 160 against Stanford and 102 (and three touchdowns) vs. the Huskies last week. With three games to go he has a nice chance at an out-of-the-blue 1,000-yard season. His 203 yards against the Beavers is No. 14 on the Bruins' single-game list. He's also the club's top punt returner (11.6). Ebell, with 734 yards, became the top freshman rusher in UCLA history last week, eclipsing Eric Ball's 703 yards in 1985... A fractured ankle to senior quarterback Corey Paus two games back leaves the Bruins with a trio of freshmen of varying experience. True freshman Matt Moore had his first action two weeks ago, true freshman Drew Olson has been Paus' backup throughout the year and redshirt freshman John Sciarra has played in two games. Moore led the club to victory against Stanford , the chief mechanic on seven scoring drives... Olson has played in five games, starting at Seattle and completing 13-of-27 for 189 yards... Tight end Mike Seidman has 31 receptions fpr 520 yards and four TDs. His receiving yardage is the most for a UCLA tight end since 1983. He had eight grabs for 138 yards against Oregon State... The passing game receives plenty of support from receivers Craig Bragg (41-674, 7 TD) and Tab Perry (31-603, 19.5 ypc)... Perry (23.8 yards per return) is a kickoff return threat ...All-purpose kicker Nate Fikse has a 41.5 yard punting average with 14 downed inside the 20 yard-line and is 7-for-8 on field goal attempts. He made all five field goal tries against Stanford two weeks ago in his first official action, tying a Pac-10 record for most field goals in a conference game and tying the school record. UCLA's net punting figure of 36.1 is solid with Fikse at the helm... UCLA is 4-1 on the road and 2-2 at home... The Bruins have played 10 true freshmen...UCLA's defense was rated No. 26 nationally but then UW's Cody Pickett threw for 429 yards last week and the Bruins check in at No. 43 this week (345.6)... UCLA held UW to 79 rushing yards, however, and earlier held an explosive California team to just 173 total yards... Senior cornerback Ricky Manning has started 41 consecutive contests. A two-time first-team All-Pac-10 pick, he has four interceptions and returned one of them for a 33-yard touchdown. He has 12 career picks... DE Dave Ball has a sack in seven consecutive games and leads the team with 10, notching three against Washington...
Injury Report for UCLA Game
Michael Jolivette (knee, practice before Wisconsin, missed 8 games) is questionable. SS Jarvie Worcester (arm at UW) is questionable. DE Vince Feula (knee vs. WSU, missed OSU trip) is questionable. FB Sean Jones (arm pre-SU, missed 3) is probable. FB Gainus Scott (ankle, practice before UNT) is questionable. DE Mike Schwertley (back, missed OSU) is questionable. WR Juan Valentine (ankle, missed OSU), is questionable. HB Clarence Farmer (knee vs. UNT, surgery Oct. 5) is out. OT Brandon Phillips (knee vs. Stanford) is out. OT Darren Safranek (knee) has not played and is out. DE Andre Torrey (hip) has not played and is out. OG John Vorsheck (concussion) has not played and is out. Missed Starts due to injury: 54 (Phillips-2, Avegalio-1, Briggs-1, Brooks-2, Farmer-5, Jolivette-7, Willrodt-3, Freitas-1, Hardt-1, Fraser-1, Bell-1, Safranek-9, Torrey-9, Parada-4, C. Johnson-1, Worcester-3, Jones-3).
The team will elect permanent team captains near the close of the season. Each week prior to that honor, game captains are selected by head coach John Mackovic. The game captains for Northern Arizona: QB Jason Johnson, LB Lance Briggs, FS Jarvie Worcester and TE James Hugo. Utah - LB Ray Wells, OT Makoa Freitas, WR Bobby Wade. Wisconsin - Hugo, Wells, Freitas, DT Young Thompson. North Texas - Thompson, J. Johnson, Wade, Worcester. Oregon: Freitas, Wade, Wells, CB David Hinton. Washington: Johnson, OL Reggie Sampay, Thompson, Worcester. Stanford: Briggs, Hugo, Wells, Freitas. Washington State: Hinton, J. Johnson, Briggs, OG Aaron Higginbotham. Oregon State: J.Johnson, Wade, Briggs, Freitas.
Miscellany of Late...
The Last Time Against UCLA - Oct. 28, 2000,Tucson, Ariz.
No. 24-ranked Arizona played toe-to-toe football for most of four quarters, but came up about five minutes short in a 27-24 loss to UCLA that dropped the team from the national rankings. UA had the lead, 24-20, and the ball with 4:57 remaining, but lost two yards on three plays, and a 32-yard punt gave UCLA the ball at the Bruin 34 yard-line. A couple of passing plays moved the ball 32 yards, then the Bruins converted a 4th-and-4 play for 19 yards. On 3rd-and-5 from the UA 13 yard-line, UCLA quarterback Corey Paus scrambled 13 yards and lunged for the go-ahead score with less than a minute remaining. UA's hopes ended after one first down on the ensuing possession when Ortege Jenkins was intercepted for the fourth time in the game. Jenkins (11-104) and tailback Clarence farmer (33-107) each rushed for more than 100 yards to post UA's first tandem since 1996, but the four interceptions in the passing game were more than half of Jenkins' completions (7-18, 105 yards) and led to 10 UCLA points. Arizona came up with two interceptions of its own to lead directly to 14 points, including defensive tackle Keoni Fraser's first career pick with a 36-yard return for a touchdown on UCLA's first possession of the game. The Cats were not effective in goal-line defense, allowing UCLA to score all its points on five red-zone penetrations including two first-and-goal touchdowns. The Cats did, however, stiffen enough to force two field goals by UCLA. After a Bruin field goal trimmed the Cats' 21-14 half-time lead to 21-17 early in the third quarter, Jenkins 62-yard run set up a scoring opportunity at the Bruins' 14 yard-line. But two plays later he was intercepted at the goal line to thwart a serious UA red-zone penetration. The Cats' defense held UCLA to 54 net rushing yards and a modest 284 total, and UA's offense averaged five yards per play, but neither unit nor kicking teams could come up with a play here or there to make that special difference. For the third consecutive game, the outcome was determined in the closing seconds.
The aerial attack featured so prominently in UA's season hit a wall at Oregon State. With UA's running game shut down, the Beavers played some good pass defense - pressure - and shut the whole thing down, saddling UA with its worst-ever total offense figure in Pac-10 play, 93 net yards. Twenty-two percent of Arizona's 58 plays ended in minus yardage (13 Beaver tackles for loss). UA is averaging 50.8 yards per game on the ground, last in Division I-A. Arizona's negative rushing totals at Oregon State (-23) and against Washington State (-17) really put a crimp on one's diversity. Total offensive yardage vs. the Beavers, obviously, was 100 percent passing. Yardage against Washington State (207 total) was 100 percent passing. Arizona's yardage at Stanford (266 net total offense) was 92 percent (244) via the pass. Arizona's net offense at Washington (467 yards) was 95 percent passing (443). Play calling is not as one-sided, but the Cats are not running the ball effectively. The team is averaging 1.7 yards per rush on the season and 0.3 per rush in Pac-10 play. All six losses came when Arizona had fewer rushing yards than opponents. UA's suffered 29 sacks in the last five weeks, so pass protection is having a tough go because of some predictability. Arizona averaged 80.5 plays in its first two games, with 85 runs and 76 passes for an average of 484 yards. Since, the Cats have had 62, 62, 69, 70, 54, 67 and 58 plays. Passing has netted UA 2,479 yards compared to 457 rushing this season. The play calling is split fairly even - 275 rushes, 327 passes. Arizona is ahead of its school-record rate of 255 yards passing per game, but the figure of 275.4 is dropping precipitously without help from the run. The Cats' 1.7 yards per rush would break the school season "record" of 2.04 yards per rush established in 1958.
The Cats were 2-1 in the upcoming stretch of games a year ago, winning two of the last three on the road. This time it's two of the last three at home. UA needs all the victories it can get -- looking to snap a five-game losing streak, it's second 0-5 league mark in two years.
Black and White
A couple of statistical marks might show how Arizona was 3-1 in non-conference games and is 0-5 in league action. Most notable, but not singularly demonstrative, is the Cats' average per rush of less than a foot -- 0.3 yards -- in its five league games. That factor does relate strongly to 243 lost rushing yards via opponents' 29 sacks.
Arizona has improved its defense considerably in one respect - scoring defense - since last year. The Cats surrendered a school-record 34.3 points per game in 2001 but have trimmed that mark to 22.0 in 2002. Arizona kept its double-eagle flex defensive scheme used since the early 1990s. But in the off season coordinator Larry Mac Duff and head coach John Mackovic looked at ways to improve and did add some wrinkles to continue the gap-control, pressure style that pushed Arizona to the top of the national statistics in total defense and rushing defense in the 1990s. Injuries have hurt some of the options the Cats planned to use, but if the offensive objective as stated by Mackovic is to score about five touchdowns per game, then the Cats' defense is giving the team chances to win. The scoring defense figure rates No. 36 nationally. Still, this week UA faces a UCLA team that's running the ball well and UA is last in the league and 74th nationally in rush defense. UA is No. 2 in the league in pass defense and 52nd nationally. Oregon State might have whipped UA more badly than it did had not UA's defense stepped up on some goal-line stands. A fumbled kickoff by true freshman Jason Martin gave the Beavers the ball at the UA 16 yard-line, but UA eventually held OSU's Steven Jackson to no gain on 4th-and-1 at the Cats' 7 to get the ball back on downs. A fumble by true halfback freshman Beau Carr gave OSU the ball at the UA 17 yard-line, but the Cats dug in and held for a three-and-out. The return of a couple of key veterans this week or next - cornerback Michael Jolivette and safety Jarvie Worcester - will help.
Boasting About Bobby
Arizona wide receiver Bobby Wade leads the Pacific-10 Conference in receptions per game (7.8), receiving yardage per game (108.2) and all-purpose yardage (156.7), plus is second in total receiving yards (974) and punt returns (13.6). He's fifth nationally in catches per game, eighth in yards per game, seventh in total receiving yards and14th in all-purpose yardage. Despite focused coverages he's still grabbed 43 balls in five league games. OSU's overall dominance of the line of scrimmage kept him to a season-low tying four receptions for 34 yards. He had nine catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, plus added 62 yards on three kickoff returns vs. the No. 9 Cougars. He had eight catches for 120 yards and added a punt return of 64 yards and two kickoff returns for 58 yards to give him 243 all-purpose yards at Stanford. He's been named to the Shrine East-West Game roster (joining teammate Lance Briggs)... In his last 12 games he's recorded eight of his 11 career 100-yard receiving games... Wade had nine catches for a career-high 175 yards against Utah, but saw his streak of five 100-yard games end at Wisconsin, catching seven balls for 85 yards. This year he moved into the No. 2 spot on Arizona's receiving chart with 208 catches - good enough for the No. 5 spot in Pac-10 history. He's third in the UA record book with 22 scoring receptions, and No. 2 with 2,936 receiving yards. His 71 receptions this year are the No. 3 single-season figure in Arizona history and his 62 receptions a year ago are the No. 5 single-season mark. He has a streak of 40 consecutive games with a reception - in the top dozen nationally - and two shy of UA's record of 42 by Dennis Northcutt (1996-99). His 974 yards this year are the No. 4 total in Arizona history and he's likely to become only the fourth Wildcat to exceed a 1,000-yards receiving soon.
Despite missing a game (Oregon, ankle injury), senior inside linebacker Lance Briggs leads Arizona with 71 tackles and 8.5 hits for losses. OSU did a good job of limiting his normal access to key gaps and he finished with four tackles, his season low. Two weeks ago against Washington State he had 14 tackles, including three for loss and a sack, a fumble recovery and two passes knocked away. A week earlier vs. Stanford he had nine tackles and came up with his fourth career interception (but first since October 2000), tipping a ball to himself in the end zone while covering Teyo Johnson. He had nine solo tackles at Washington, plus forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. He had eight tackles against North Texas and was all over the field at Wisconsin, recording 15 tackles, second only to his initial game as a linebacker when he had 16 to open his true sophomore year at Utah in 2000. With 281 career hits (including 4 as a true freshman fullback on special teams in 1999), he's in a similar neighborhood as former UA All-American and NFL draftee Sean Harris (1991-94), a swift and rugged linebacker like Briggs who recorded 320 tackles. Beside Briggs, senior Ray Wells brings a full year's experience and has chipped in 52 hits. Sophomores Pat Howard and Kirk Johnson and freshman Spencer Larsen add the youth factor. Wells posted 10 tackles against North Texas, his career high. Howard missed the first two games after preseason knee arthroscopy, and has chipped in 25 hits, including a career-best seven against the Ducks. In the meantime, true freshman Larsen has started four games, adding 25 tackles and two sacks. Johnson had twin career highs with seven tackles at Washington and against Stanford.
I Got It, You Take It
Wade and his mates in the receiving corps -- junior Andrae Thurman, sophomores Lance Relford and Ricky Williams, freshman Biren Ealy and junior college transfer Juan Valentine - give Arizona a deep group. Including tight ends and backs, 15 different players have receptions. Thurman broke out with his best day against Utah, matching Wade's nine catches and totaling 165 yards, both career bests, and added nine grabs for 142 yards and a score at Washington. He had seven catches for 89 yards against Washington State. The 100-yard game against Washington was the second time this season that Wade and Thurman had each topped the 100-yard plateau. Twelve players average more than 10 yards per catch, but Wade at 13.7 yards per pop is the go-to guy. As a tandem, the 114 receptions for Wade (71) and Thurman (43) are eight short of a school-record 1-2 punch, 121 catches in a single season by Dennis Northcutt (63) and Jeremy McDaniel (58) in 1998. Wade is on three of the top four tandems already.
Senior quarterback Jason Johnson rates No. 22 nationally with 20 pass completions per game, leading a passing attack that rates the Cats No. 22 in the land. He crossed the 2,000-yard passing level against Stanford in the seventh game of the year and is a handful of throws from reaching the No. 2 spot on UA's single-season passing yardage chart. He's 87 yards from the UA single-season passing yardage record. He had his seventh career 300-yard game against the Huskies, completing 29-of-41 throws for a school-record 443 yards and three scores. His 29 completions were also a school record and career best. He upped his single-game yardage mark three times this year - throwing for successive totals of 381 yards in the opener and 416 vs. Utah, both among the top 6 in UA single-game individual performances, then hitting for the best against Washington. In the last three weeks, however, he's suffered some serious pressure (19 sacks) and thrown five interceptions to see his pass-efficiency rating drop to No. 42 nationally and seventh in the league. Against Stanford he suffered three interceptions and completed 19-of-30 for 244 yards in a modest effort. Against the Cougars it was 22-for-46 for 224 yards and two picks. Against Oregon State it was 14-for-28 and 105 yards. He spent his first year at Arizona as a redshirt and two as a holder behind Keith Smith/Ortege Jenkins before getting his opportunity last season. Last year he completed 169 passes for 57 percent, 2,347 yards and 19 touchdowns, all in Arizona's top 10 for single-season marks, but did suffer 13 interceptions. He has seven 300-yard career passing games and two above 400. Johnson found nine different receivers in his 2002 debut, and hit 10 different guys against North Texas. He's completed passes to 15 different players this year. A graduate student in Judaic studies, Johnson's the reigning first-team Academic All-Pac-10 quarterback, a member of the 2002 AFCA "Good Works Team" which cites scholastic and civic responsibility, and UA's nominee for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete post-graduate studies program.
Not Your Average Joe
Junior Joe Siofele was the returning starter at whip linebacker, but has filled another role, playing defensive end in the absence of projected starter Andre Torrey. Filling in is an understatement. He has 54 tackles, second to Lance Briggs, and the most by a UA defensive lineman since Joe Tafoya notched 54 two seasons ago. The next most recent big numbers for a tackle or end was 56 tackles in 1995 by Tedy Bruschi (and 55 in 1993). Siofele is poised to put up a bigger number of tackles than any Arizona lineman in the last 10 seasons with a typical outing this week or next. He had a career-high 11 tackles against Oregon and added eight at Washington. He had seven against the Cougars, and six at Oregon State.
A year ago, Carlos Williams was a true freshman tight end in a corps stacked pretty deep. So he switched to defensive end and earned some playing time. This year he's a starting tackle and a special teams player with two blocked kicks. He blocked his second field goal of the year against WSU. A year ago, Mike Schwertley was playing Arizona basketball. In October the walk-on defensive end blocked a field goal try at Washington in the fourth quarter of a game UA could have won. UA has five blocked kicks this season. Williams blocked a field goal against North Texas and since-injured cornerback Michael Jolivette blocked two punts in the season opener against Northern Arizona. UA blocked two punts last year. 2002 opponents have blocked three field goals (two by North Texas, one by Utah) and a punt (Wisconsin). As is typical of this year, even bright-spot reserve guys like Schwertley (sore back, missed OSU trip) have missed playing time.
Bobby Wade enters the UCLA game No. 24 nationally and second in the Pac-10 with a punt return average of 13.6 yards. He's the reason UA is rated No. 13 nationally and best in the league at 15.2 yards per return. The Cats have been improving in kickoff returns over the past several weeks, but still haven't been outstanding, nor in kickoff and punt coverage. With lots of youthful participation and different faces many times this year, special teams play has been a roller coaster ride. (While Wade had two KOR for a 23-yard average and +30 field position at Oregon State, freshman Jason Martin tried to short-hop another and fumbled it away to the Beavers at the UA 16 yard-line, for example). Wade had a career-best 64-yard punt return at Stanford, then helped set up Arizona's go-ahead touchdown against WSU in the late second quarter with a 34-yard kickoff return to the UA 39 yard-line.
Kickers Grab at the Ring
Speaking of special teams play: Arizona has used two guys on kickoffs - Ryan Slack and James Molina; two field goal kickers in Sean Keel and Bobby Gill; and three punters in Ramey Peru, Danny Baugher and Molina. Peru left the team to concentrate on a mid-year graduation, and true freshman Baugher started punting in the fourth game. Molina warmed up with a couple of kickoffs, then punted once for 52 yards against WSU. Gill came on in the fourth game and appears to have a good grip on the place kicking job. Molina won the punting job and the start at Oregon State -- for the moment, it seems -- with nine punts for a 33.9 yard average. Baugher had to finish.
League opponents have helped opponents take a 42% to 38% edge in overall conversion success this season. UA was held to 2-for-15 at Corvallis, its worst of the year. The Beavers had a modest 7-for-17. Arizona faced a couple of monsters at Oregon State: 3rd-and-15, 3rd-and-18, 3rd-and-13, 3rd-and-13, etc. WSU made 10-of-18 third-down plays to UA's 6-for-17 effort. A week earlier UA was 3-for-11 while Stanford was 11-for-20. In the opener UA converted 13-of-21 3rd down plays and 1-for-1 on 4th down to hang on to the ball at a 64 percent conversion rate. The Huskies were the most successful opponent so far with 11 successful conversion in 17 tries. Some of UA's best defensive work in that category came against Oregon - the Ducks had a 2-for-12 effort.
Sophomore Bobby Gill made his only attempt at OSU and both his field goal tries against Washington State to improve to 6-for-8 this year, good efficiency. He made two of three field goals at Stanford, missing from 47 yards. Gill took over the starting role from Sean Keel five games ago. After failing on four field goals vs. North Texas, UA did not attempt a field goal against Oregon or Washington, instead proving more touchdown-effective in the red zone. Keel had hit six field goals in the first three games to rate No. 5 nationally and third in the Pac-10 at 2.0 per game. He missed from 26 and 32 yards after the blocked try against UNT, then gave way to Gill - who had his 44-yard attempt blocked. Keel also had a 52-yard try blocked against Utah. Gill came on for the team's final try in the opener and hit a 26-yarder in his first career attempt. Twelve-for-19 overall (63%) is close to last year's 64% success rate (9-for-14, all by Keel). But Gill showed in the last several weeks that he has good range and accuracy. Arizona would prefer touchdowns, most certainly.
The Scoring Zone
In percentage, Arizona and its opponents are about equal in scoring zone efficacy, but opponents are getting more chances. Arizona crossed midfield only five times in the last two games and did not penetrate the 20 yard-line. OSU had seven incursions, scoring four TDs and a field goal. Bobby Gill hit a 43-yard field goal when UA reached the Beavers' 26 in the final three minutes of the third quarter. Arizona did not venture across the Washington State 20 yard-line, though it did strike from the 27 on a Jason Johnson-to-Bobby Wade touchdown. Two field goals by Gill finished drives that ended at the WSU 30 and 25 yard-lines. The OSU/WSU drought snapped a UA 5-for-5 scoring streak on red zone penetrations although two of those were field goal trips at Stanford. Arizona did a solid job against Washington by scoring touchdowns in all three red zone penetrations, while Washington had three TDs in its four trips, also effective. The Wildcats have scored 16 times in 22 trips inside the red zone, but only eight touchdowns. Against the Mean Green, three missed field goals gave Arizona one score in four trips. UNT scored two field goals in its four trips, UA blocked another FG try and held on downs. Against Wisconsin the Cats had to settle for a field goal after Andrae Thurman's 35-yard punt return set UA up with the ball at the Wisconsin 21 yard-line. UA reached the 10 but the Badgers stiffened. Earlier, UA ended a 76-yard drive at the Utah 4 and settled for a field goal, ended a 50-yard drive at the Utah 2 yard-line and settled for a field goal, and recovered a fumble at the Utah 19 and settled for a field goal. Not exactly punching it in. Defensively, Arizona has done a pretty good job -- opponents have scored 13 touchdowns in 31 incursions. Arizona: 22 Scoring Zone Possessions - 16 scores; 73% scoring, 36% TD (8) Opponents: 38 Scoring Zone Possessions - 28 scores; 74% scoring, 45% TD (17)
He might be able to rehabilitate a knee injury enough to make another appearance in 2002, and if junior cornerback Michael Jolivette does so it could show more of what UA's 2003 secondary will be like. Jolivette intercepted five passes and set an Arizona single-season record in breaking up 20 passes a year ago. He's been a fixture of UA's secondary since his first game in 2000. He intercepted five passes in each of his first two years (after redshirting the '99 season).
UA is 2-0 in games when it has fewer turnovers. In the rest - 1-6. UA had two turnovers to none by the Beavers last week, though the factor didn't lead to OSU points. A sack-fumble gave Washington State its first two points on a safety when the ball bounced through the end zone; and another sack caused another fumble by Jason Johnson half way through the fourth quarter to lead to a short touchdown drive. Those 10 points factored in a game Arizona lost by eight. The Cats have held turnovers to a relative minimum, but also have not been getting their hands on the ball defensively. Arizona is No. 37 nationally with 17 turnovers, but is No. 108 nationally with only 11 turnovers gained, rating the team No. 85 in margin at -.67 per game. Three Stanford interceptions and a lost fumble hurt vs. the Cardinal, while Arizona had one pick by Lance Briggs. Stanford picked up 10 turnover points after two of the mistakes, while Arizona gave its one takeaway back in a 10-point game. UA was somewhat sloppy against Utah, coughing up three turnovers that led to 14 points plus ruined a 52-yard drive. UA's lone takeaway vs. the Utes was a recovered fumble at the Utah 19 yard-line, which resulted in Sean Keel's third field goal of the game. In the opener, Jarvie Worcester intercepted a pass and Gary Love recovered a fumble on punt coverage, but UA did not capitalize with points. Also versus NAU, two blocked punts by Michael Jolivette created short fields for touchdown and field-goal scoring drives. The Cats did not turn the ball over in that contest, nor against North Texas - a game in which UA scored on a blocked field goal return and with a short drive after a UNT fumble. Turnovers: Arizona 17, Opponents 11 Turnover Points: Arizona 10, Opponents 51 Miscue Points: Arizona 27, Opponents 54 (includes turnover, blocked/botched kick possessions
Getting to the QB
Entering the season Arizona was No. 7 nationally among I-A teams with 74 quarterback sacks from 2000-2001. After only eight in league games the Cats have a total of 17 going into the Washington State game. Opponents have 23 sacks in the last four games and a total of 32. Cornerback Darrell Brooks, linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive end Copeland Bryan got to the QB last week against WSU. Junior DE Joe is the team leader with four, while 10 other players have been in on the action. DL Carl Tuitavuki recorded his first sack of the season at Washington, while linemate Bryan added his first solo sack on the very next play. Arizona had one sack at Wisconsin and one against North Texas, both by Siofele, who is playing a different position (DE) than his career at OLB. Opponents have lost 88 yards on Arizona's 17 sacks (while UA has lost 258 on the 32 sacks by the other guys).