Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Football Preps For Roadie at No. 12 Cal
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: September 29, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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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).

The radio broadcast will also be heard by military personnel in 177 countries and naval ships at sea via Armed Forces Radio.


Television: TBS - Ron Thulin, Charles Daivs, Craig Sager

Game Time: 4 p.m. (PDT).

Location: Memorial Stadium (Berkeley, Calif.)


Some Game Themes

UA faces a second consecutive top 15 team and gets a tough league opener in the form of a road contest against the 12th-ranked Golden Bears, winners of 11 of their last 12 games and owners of a nine-game home winning streak in Strawberry Canyon ... Cal has all the trappings of the contender it was considered in preseason, with top 20 ratings in total offense, rushing, scoring, defense, punt returns, etc. ... The Cats are sick of being this close against quality teams and need to get over the proverbial hump ... UA comes off a bye week that might have helped it get some key people on defense healed enough to contribute -- UA started five backups at end and linebacker vs. Purdue on Sept. 17th and hopes to get a couple of them back for league play ... California's opponents to date have played to a record of 3-13, so a resurgent Arizona program could give the Bears an updated view of where they stand.


Last Time Out

Arizona took another visit to Elm Street and the result was a seven-point loss to No. 12 Purdue before the largest crowd at Arizona Stadium in five years (56,400). A few plays underscored the nightmare. Trailing by four points, 21-17, at the eight-minute mark in the third quarter, Arizona followed a 68-yard punt by Danny Baugher with a rousing stand inside Purdue's 5 yard-line, holding the Boilermakers to a 3-and-out. Purdue's subsequent punt carried to its own 42 -- and UA fumbled the fair catch. A handful of plays later, Purdue's receiver fumbles the ball near UA's goal line -- and it goes out of bounds. The Boilers score. A minute later, a fake punt doesn't work and UA gives Purdue the ball for a 32-yard scoring drive. Still, the Cats fight back and cut into the lead with a sharp 80-yard drive. The UA defense holds again, and yet another time. With less than two minutes remaining, UA quarterback Richard Kovalcheck lofts the ball on a deep sideline pattern to a receiver five yards beyond the defender -- and the ball is dropped. Purdue earned the victory with 239 yards rushing and 20.0 yards per economical seven total pass completions, somewhat against its reputation of recent years. The Boilers' defense held Arizona to a net rushing total of 13 yards. No one was good on third down, combining for six of 26. Kovalcheck had career highs with 23 completions, 40 attempts, and 283 yards, plus notched three TD passes including two to tight end Brad Wood. Baugher put on a clinic and moved himself into the national lead with seven punts for an average of 57.6 yards, and a team net figure of 48.6. For the second time among its two losses, Arizona again had a chance to win in the fourth quarter, on its last possession, against a good team.


Quick Hits From Purdue

- P Danny Baugher helped break the Pac-10 single game team average punting record. The senior booted seven kicks for 403 yards and a 57.6 average. Baugher had punts of 68, 63, 61 and 51 yards in addition to a career-long 76-yarder.

- QB Richard Kovalcheck passed for 283 yards against Purdue, marking the fourth straight game he has bettered or equaled his single game high.

- TE Brad Wood grabbed a pair of TD passes, his third straight game with at least one score.

- Marcus Hollingsworth picked off a Brandon Kirsch pass in the third quarter, the first interception of the year for Arizona.

- The 283 yards through the air marked the third straight game UA has passed for more yards than its opponent this year.

- WR Syndric Steptoe caught two passes against the Boilermakers, his 10th straight game with at least one reception.


Pac-10 Opener For Arizona

Saturday’s game against the Golden Bears marks the opening of the conference season for UA. The Wildcats are 16-11 in Pac-10 openers since joining the conference in 1978 and 7-4 in conference openers on the road. Arizona has twice opened Pac-10 play against Cal and UA won both meetings (1980 31-24 @ Cal, 1984 23-13 @ UA). The Golden Bears are already 1-0 in the Pac-10 after a 56-17 win at Washington on Sept. 10.


Cal and Arizona - The All-Time Series

Something has got to give as the Wildcats and Golden Bears will be playing for the 25th time in an all-square 11-11-2 all-time series ... Not only has the series itself been close, but the scoring has been tight as well ?- Total points scored against each other all-time - UA: 567, Cal: 583 ... 13 of 24 all-time meetings have been decided by less than seven points and two have been forced to go into overtime ... In a series that has seen winning streaks from both schools, the Golden Bears have enjoyed the most recent success in winning the last two (2003, ’04) ... Previous to Cal’s most recent streak, Arizona boasted a four-game winning run from 1997-2002, its longest ever against Cal ... Last year’s 38-0 Cal victory marked the first shutout win for either team in the all-time series.


Cal and Arizona - The Last Time Out

Led by an efficient and effective outing from QB Aaron Rogers, the Cal offense racked 459 yards of total offense in a 38-0 blanking of Arizona in Tucson last season ... The now-departed signal caller for the Golden Bears completed 20 of his 27 pass attempts for 235 yards and three scores ... Paced by 135 yards and a TD by JJ Arrington, the Cal ground game balanced the attack with 192 rushing yards in the contest ... The Wildcat offense came up with 245 yards, but couldn’t find pay dirt in its only shutout loss of the year ... UA’s lone scoring opportunity, a 45 yard FG attempt by Nick Folk, was blocked in the second quarter ... Arizona QB Richard Kovalcheck made his first career start in the game after taking over from Kris Heavner the previous week at Oregon ... Kovalcheck passed for 159 yards on 13 of 32 passing ... UA running back Mike Bell posted 99 yards on 17 carries, an average of 5.8 yards per tote.


Noting the Bears

The Golden Bears enter the week of play ranked 12th in the AP poll, the second No. 12 team Arizona will have faced this season (Purdue) ... Cal boasts a potent high caliber offense that ranks 10th nationally in total offense, sixth in rushing and 13th in scoring ... Individually Justin Forsett is seventh in the nation in rushing (127.75 ypg) after filling in for injured starter Marshawn Lynch. Forsett ripped off 235 yards on 31 carries in his last start against New Mexico State ... QB Joe Ayoob has over come a rough start to rank 29th nationally in passing efficiency ... Defensively, the Golden Bears are giving up an average of 309 yards per contest this season, the 28th-best mark in the country ... Special teams could factor in with the fourth-best punt returner, Cal’s Tim Mixon, squaring off against the nation’s leading punter, Arizona’s Danny Baugher.


Passing Fancy

Arizona's average passing yards per game through three contests compares favorably with some of the top figures in school history. The Cats are averaging 275 yards per game, which would have rated third in the league a year ago -- more than the national champion's figure of 271.7 ypg. There is a ton of football yet to be played, but the trend is significant. Arizona's school mark is 289.8 by the Jason Johnson-led unit in 2002, and the next highest mark in the books goes back 39 years to the 1966 club that put up 255.1 passing yards per game. Nos. 3 and 4 came in the last six seasons, 253.1 in 1999 (Keith Smith/Ortege Jenkins) and 250.3 in 2001 (Johnson).


Keep On Truckin’

The Arizona offense has done a much better job of keeping the ball and their defensive teammates off the field this season. On 39 offensive possessions this year (less the two drives in which Arizona ran out the clock at the end of a half), the Wildcats have gone three-and-out (or less) just 11 times (28 percent). Last season, Arizona went three-and-out (or less) on offense on 43 percent of its 148 drives.


Four or Less

As is often the case, Arizona’s chances of successfully converting on third down depends largely on how far it has to go. With 3rd and 4 or less this season, the Wildcats are converting for a fresh set of downs 75 percent of the time (12 of 16). With five or more yards to go on third down, the success rate drops to just 16 percent (4 of 25).


Loose, But No Cigar

Arizona has seen opponents fumble the ball seven times, but only has recovered two of those. Still, in Mike Stoops' one-plus seasons, Arizona's defense has helped force opponents to put the ball on the ground 32 times, and recovered 21 of the fumbles. The Cats have shown the ability to get the ball out. A year ago the UA led the nation in fumbles recovered and was 18th in turnovers gained.


If you build it, they will come

A program with promise, that is. In two games, Arizona has drawn average crowds of 55,564 -- 99 percent of the seating capacity of 56,002. Should similar crowds assemble for UA's final four home games the Cats would check in with the No. 2 season average in UA history. The 1994 club drew crowds averaging 56,562 (including sizeable media/service contingents on hand).  Since Arizona Stadium was expanded from 32,000 capacity for the 1976 season, annual attendance has topped the 50,000 average 10 times -- including Mike Stoops' first year in 2004 when UA drew 50,111 per game.


Carpe Diem DB

Junior safety Marcus Hollingsworth works in the logjam where Darrell Brooks, Lamon Means and Michael Johnson have a pretty good hold on the bulk of the PT. But he's taken advantage of coaches' use of other formations to notch starting assignments in each of the first three games as a nickel back. Part of the push was injuries to most of the linebackers, but Hollingsworth has come through with some good outings, including five tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and an interception against Purdue. He also had five tackles against Utah and is fourth on the club overall with 14 hits, plus is the team leader with three pass deflections. His career-best tackle effort was seven against USC as a redshirt freshman in 2003. UA may be able to rely on its base defense more and more if some of the linebackers return to health, but Hollingsworth has given notice he can help.


Special K

Richard Kovalcheck has been just that in his last four games. Dating back to the Arizona State game last November, the sophomore QB has completed 80 of his last 139 pass attempts for 1,032 yards and 10 TDs. Additionally, in each of his last four contests Kovalcheck has either broken or equaled his career game-high for passing yards.

Kovalcheck’s Last Four Games

Date Opponent Att Comp Pct. Yards TDs
Nov. 26, 2004 No. 18 Arizona State 31 17 55% 239 3*
Sept. 2, 2005 at Utah 37 21 57% 255 2
Sept. 10, 2005 Northern Arizona 31 19 61%* 255 2
Sept. 17, 2005 No. 12 Purdue 40* 23* 58% 283* 3*
Totals 139 80 58% 1,032 10


Upping the Ante

With seven touchdown passes in just three games this season, QB Richard Kovalcheck has already surpassed his six-game total of six TD passes from last year and is just 87 yards and four completions away from last year’s totals heading into UA’s fourth game this season. Modest though it may be, RK is on a pace to pass the UA season touchdown passes record of 20 set by Marc Reed nearly a half century ago in 1966.


Wood Could

Junior tight end Brad Wood has gotten off to a spectacular start this season, catching 12 balls for 180 yards in UA’s first three games. The first-year starter is averaging a team-high 15 yards per catch and leads all receivers with four TD grabs, including a pair against No. 12 Purdue on Sept. 17. With five career scores on just 19 all-time receptions, Wood is averaging a TD once every fourth catch. Despite playing in just 14 career games (11 in 2004, 3 in 2005) he is already approaching the numbers of some of the top tight ends in school history.

Brad Wood vs. Arizona Tight Ends Past

Player Years Rec Yds TD
Ron Beyer 1975-78 53 811 7
Mark Keel 1981-82 59 856 6
Gary Parrish 1984-85 28 366 1
Richard Griffith 1989-92 35 358 2
Mike Metzler 1994-96 34 497 6
Mike Lucky 1995-98 43 563 4
B. Manumaleuna 1997-00 40 544 3
Steve Fleming 2001-04 50 584 4
Brad Wood 2004-Pres. 19 228 5


Moving the Chains

Junior Brad Wood and true freshman Mike Thomas might want to start a moving company. The pair has combined to move the chains on 19 of Arizona’s 39 passing first downs this season. Thomas leads the team with 10 first down catches (63 percent of his 16 catches have been for first downs), while Wood has chipped in with nine receptions that have resulted in a fresh set of downs for the Wildcats. Seventy five percent of Wood’s 12 receptions this season have been for first downs. Toss in running back Mike Bell’s 17 rushing first downs and two receiving firsts and Thomas’ two rushing first downs, the trio of Thomas, Wood and Bell have teamed up for 40 of Arizona’s 61 non-penalty related first downs this season (66%).


Bootin’ Danny Baugher

Senior Danny Baugher enters the week of play against Cal as the nation’s top punter with a 51.8 yards per kick average. The career punts leader at Arizona has already broken a pair of Pac-10 and school records this season while repeatedly upping his career-long kick. On Sept. 10 against Northern Arizona, he averaged 59.7 yards per punt, snapping the previous conference and school records for a single game. A week later, on Sept. 17, Baugher had a career day against Purdue, launching seven punts for 403 yards including a career-long kick of 76 yards and other punts of 68, 63, 61 and 51 yards. The effort against the Boilermakers ended up producing a 57.6 team average, the highest team single game mark in Pac-10 history (min. 5 kicks).


Through the Endzone

Place kicker Nick Folk has not been kind to the opposing kick returners this season. The sophomore has kicked off 17 times this year, 12 of which have been unreturnable touchbacks. The special teams coverage of his returnable kicks has been impressive as well with the opposition’s average starting spot after kick off coming at their own 18.


Keep Away

UA kickoff returners Syndric Steptoe (23.3) and B.J. Dennard (32.0) are two of the swiftest, shiftiest guys on the squad -- given the chance. Opponents have kicked off 15 times and those two have been able to take it out only four times. Nine kicks have been touchbacks, another was a fair catch and one was a short kick returned nine yards by fullback Pedro Limon.


Nick Can Kick

Junior place kicker Nick Folk has righted Arizona’s once down-trodden kicking game. Already 3 for 4 on FG attempts this season, including a 51-yarder against Purdue, Folk has converted 11 of his 20 career tries for the Wildcats. And while the 55 percent success rate is not quite as high as what special teams coach Joe Robinson would hope for, one must remember that Arizona was just 3 for 11 on FG attempts in the 2003 season after missing its final six attempts of the year. Additionally after starting the 2004 season 2 for 5, Folk converted six of his final nine attempts last season and has been true on nine of his last 13 tries, including three from 48 or more yards away.


Hitting The Century Mark

Senior running back Mike Bell has rushed for 100 or more yards in a game eight times in his career. When doing so, he has helped lead UA to a 5-3 record while amassing 1,148 rushing yards, nine TDs and averaging 6.3 yards per carry.


Putting on the Hits

Senior safety Darrell Brooks is moving closer to UA's top 20 chart for career tackles making a team-high 24 stops in UA’s first three games this year. Brooks has 231 total tackles in his four-year career. No. 20 on the list is nose guard John Sanguinetti (1974-77) with 270. Two defensive backs are on the chart -- safeties Chuck Cecil (7th with 392) and Jeff Hammerschmidt (19th with 279). The leader is former middle linebacker Ricky Hunley with 566 -- an average of 12.9 per game over his four year career from 1980-83. Brooks has averaged 75 tackles in his last two seasons and with that production this year he would surpass former linebacker Chris Singleton with 282 for the 17th-best career total in UA history.


In The Second Year

Mike Stoops is looking to join predecessors Larry Smith and Dick Tomey as the two Arizona head coaches in the Pac-10 era to enjoy a winning season in their second year of tenure in the Old Pueblo. Smith took over at UA in 1980 and went 5-6 his first season. A year later, he had improved the win total by one in both the overall standings (6-5) and in the conference (4-4). Tomey, who replaced Smith in the fall of 1987, went 4-4-3 overall and 2-3-3 in the Pac-10 his first season, but turned it around to go 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the conference just 12 months later.

Tony Mason Larry Smith Dick Tomey John Mackovic Mike Stoops
1977* - 5-7, 3-4 1980 - 5-6, 3-4 1987 - 4-4-3, 2-3-3 2001 - 5-6, 2-6 2004 - 3-8, 2-6
1978 - 5-6, 3-4 1981 - 6-5, 4-4 1988 - 7-4, 5-3 2002 - 4-8, 1-7 2005 - 1-2, 0-0
* In Tony Mason’s first year Arizona was a member of the Western Athletic Conference

Start Me Up

The Wildcats have a number of players on both sides of the ball with considerable starting experience on the resumes. Led by senior free safety Darrell Brooks’ 33 starts, the UA defense has six different players with 14 or more career starts (SS Lamon Means 29, DE Copeland Bryan 14, DT Paul Philipp 14, CB Antoine Cason 14 and CB Wilrey Fontenot 14). On offense, lineman Kili Lefotu paces the Cats with 32 career starts, including 10 in 2004. Others with significant starting experience include RB Mike Bell (28), OL Peter Graniello (13), WR Syndric Steptoe (13) and OL John Abramo (12).



Arizona has a talented trio of running backs this season in senior Gilbert Harris, senior Mike Bell and sophomore Chris Henry. Each brings a different style of attack that will complement each other well throughout the year. Bell, UA’s leading returning rusher from last season, is already eighth all-time at Arizona in career rushing yards and has posted back-to-back 900+ yard seasons. An explosive runner, Bell has the ability to work both inside and on the perimeter. Harris is a change of pace back that has the ability punish would-be tacklers along the line. As described by Mike Stoops, Henry is a “angry” rusher, possessing both power and speed. And, as if their rushing abilities weren’t enough for opposing defenses to worry about, all three are very capable pass-catchers to boot.

Run-G.M.C. Season Totals

Player              Att        Yards   TDs      Avg.     Rec      Yards   TDs      Avg.

Bell                   56         264       1          4.7        7          50         0          7.1

Henry                11         33         0          3.0        0          0          0          0

Harris                13         21         2          1.6        7          48         0          6.9       

Combined          80         318       3          4.0        14         98         0          7.0

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