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Wildcats Prepare For Game Against Wisconsin
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 09/16/2002
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Sept. 16, 2002

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Arizona in Big Test at Camp Randall

The Game - Arizona (2-0, 0-0 Pac-10) makes its first road trip to meet the No. 22 (AP) Wisconsin Badgers (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten) in a national cable game at 11 a.m. (CDT) Saturday, Sept. 21, at 76,634-seat Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. The game will be shown on ESPN2 with Pam Ward, Chris Spielman and Rob Stone describing the action. A capacity crowd is expected. Wisconsin is No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

Some Game Themes - Arizona faces a second consecutive club with a bruising reputation...The upstart 2-0 Cats against an unbeaten Big Ten club with four games under its belt and on a roll... Arizona head coach John Mackovic works to continue the success he had against Wisconsin from 1988-91 while at Illinois (4-0), but against an entirely different program than the Badgers of that period... The Cats hope to put up a better showing against a ranked opponent than their last such try -- a 51-37 turnover-marred loss to No. 16 Stanford last November... A match of Doak Walker candidates - Clarence Farmer and Anthony Davis... It's the fourth and final 2002 match of Pac-10/Big Ten teams, with the next one coming in the bowl season... UA hopes to improve on its 2-5 mark against Big Ten teams since 1995... UA has a better road percentage (3-2) than home mark (4-4) under John Mackovic... UA's rushing defense against a running team...

The Series - Arizona and Wisconsin meet for the first time... Historically, Arizona is 13-18 vs. the Big Ten while Wisconsin is 14-21-1 vs. Pac-10 teams. Wisconsin visits Tucson in 2004.

The Coaches - Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65), second year at Arizona (7-6) and 15th season as a collegiate head coach (92-70-3). Mackovic was 4-0 against Wisconsin and 2-0 against UW coach Barry Alvarez from 1988-91 while the head coach and athletics director at Illinois. Wisconsin: Barry Alvarez (Nebraska '69), 13th year in Madison (88-55-4) and overall as a head coach. He is 0-0 against Arizona, but was an assistant on Iowa teams that lost to Arizona, 5-3, in Iowa City in 1980 and beat the Wildcats in Tucson in 1982, 17-14.

Arizona Last Week - The Wildcats used a late red-zone defensive stop and a big trio in the passing game to stay unbeaten with a 23-17 victory over Utah. Arizona jumped to a 23-7 lead early in the third quarter but the Utes scored the second of two turnover touchdowns then banged a 53-yard field goal early in the final stanza to pull within six points. UA quarterback Jason Johnson had his second consecutive career day, throwing for 416 yards and completing 24 of 35 passes, including scoring tosses of 47 yards to Bobby Wade and 44 yards to Andrae Thurman. Those two each snared nine throws to combine for 340 receiving yards, the first UA duo over 100-yards in a single game since Wade and Dennis Northcutt pulled the trick against Washington State in 1999. Arizona's defense faced the nation's No. 2 rushing unit, averaging 334 yards entering the contest; the Cats held Utah to 32 net rushing yards and 204 total. In the fourth quarter, however, Utah managed 82 yards - all through the air - to put the game in question. With time running out and Utah with 1st-and-10 at Arizona's 11 yard-line, the Cats stiffened. After two incompletions, Utah's Lance Rice tossed an 8-yard pass to Travis Latendresse at the three, but on 4th-and-2 UA safety Clay Hardt made a big stop on a swing play and the Cats took over to take a knee twice and earn the victory. Wildcat place kicker Sean Keel tied his career best with three field goals and Wade (175) and Thurman (165) had career-best receiving yardage. UA held the Utes to one first down rushing to overcome its own troubles in that area - 44 attempts and 43 net yards despite Clarence Farmer's 79 yards on 33 carries. Utah's offense had 10 three-and-out possessions but did take advantage of two UA turnovers for short-field scoring drives.

Wisconsin and Match-up Notes...

University of Wisconsin - Madison. Enrollment: 41, 511. Colors: Cardinal & White; Conference: Big Ten. 2001 Record: 5-7.

...Wisconsin is 17-1 in its last 18 non-conference games, so Arizona bucks a big trend on the trip, not to mention the Badgers' 30-4-1 record in their last 35 games as a ranked team playing an unranked team... Trailing by four points with two minutes remaining, Wisconsin marched 50 yards in six plays capped by quarterback Brooks Bollinger's two-yard touchdown run to pull out a 24-21 victory over Northern Illinois in Camp Randall Stadium last week... Bollinger was sacked 10 times for 71 lost yards by NIU during the game... Wisconsin sophomore tailback Anthony Davis was held to -1 yard on six carries in the first half but finished with 49 yards on 14 carries and a third-quarter touchdown which had extended a Wisconsin lead to 17-9... NIU rolled up 455 yards in total offense against the Badgers, but suffered from four turnovers and two key penalties on the winning scoring drive... Davis has 1,855 career rushing yards in his short career. UW has had a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the past nine seasons, a Big Ten record. Davis had 1,466 a year ago as a Doak Walker Award semifinalist. With 389 yards this year, he still has nine games left to get the 611 yards he needs to make it 10 in a row, thanks to the 12-game schedule and UW's exempted appearance in the John Thompson Foundation Classic against Fresno State to open the year... Wisconsin's 4-0 start is its best since the 1998 Rose Bowl champion 11-1 club ran off nine victories. Head coach Barry Alvarez' 1993 club - also a Rose Bowl champ and 10-1-1, opened the year 6-0... Alvarez is 6-3-1 vs. the Pac-10, including three Rose Bowl victories - 17-9 over Stanford in January 2000, 38-31 over UCLA in the 1999 Rose and 21-16 over the Bruins in 1994... Alvarez has been an associate athletics director since 2000... Alvarez has won a game in Arizona Stadium before - a 1996 Copper Bowl victory over Utah, 38-10... Wisconsin (70-44-4) and Arizona (71-46-1) had near identical records during the 1990s, the upswing marked by Alvarez' tenure in Madison...

Arizona in the Statistical Rankings

Category/Figure NCAA Pac-10 Rushing/73.0 109th 10th Passing/411.0 2nd 1st Pass Eff./171.89 6th 2nd Total Offense/484.0 7th 2nd Scoring/30.0 50th 9th Rush Def./73.50 13th 1st Pass Eff. Def./87.83 15th 3rd Total Def./203.0 3rd 2nd Pass Def./129.50 15th 2nd Scoring Def./10.0 6th 1st Net Punting/36.67 39th 4th Punt Ret./10.11 66th 5th KOR/-- -- -- Turnover Margin/0.0 53rd 7th Fum. Lost/2 24th-T 3rd -T Passes Had Int./1 14th-T 2ndt-T Rec Yds/Gm- Wade 154.0 8th 1st Rec Yds/Gm -Thurman 106.5 20th 6th-T Rec/Gm - Wade 8.5 8th 1st Rec/Gm -Thurman 5.5 31st 4th Comp/Gm- Johnson 22.0 12th -T 3rd Tot Off - Johnson 378.5 2nd 1st Pass Eff. - Johnson 176.69 4th 2nd Scoring - Keel 10.0 17th 4th-T FG/Gm - Keel 2.5 2nd 1st All-Purpose - Wade 190.0 2nd 1st

In the Polls

Arizona received one vote in this week's ESPN coaches poll, after receiving three prior to the Utah game.

Injury Report

Offensive guard John Parada injured a knee ligament vs. Utah and is doubtful for Wisconsin. Offensive tackle Darren Safranek (knee) has yet to play and is doubtful. Defensive end Andre Torrey (hip) has yet to play and is doubtful. OG John Vorsheck (concussion) has yet to play and is questionable. LB Pat Howard (knee surgery) has yet to play and is doubtful. Makoa Freitas (wrist surgery Aug. 24) missed the NAU start but returned vs. Utah, as did center Keoki Fraser (ankle, missed NAU) and CB Luis Nunez (groin, missed NAU). WR Mike Jefferson (knee) missed NAU and Utah and is probable, though he might redshirt. Safety Justin Jochum had ankle surgery after an early August weight-room injury and is out. Missed Starts Due to Injury: 6 (Freitas, Torrey-2, Fraser, Safranek-2.)

Game Captains

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.

Pac-10 Nominees

Quarterback Jason Johnson, linebacker Lance Briggs and place kicker Sean Keel were UA nominees for Pac-10 Players of the Week Sept. 14. Johnson set career highs with 24 completions and 416 yards in becoming just the fourth UA quarterback to top the 400-yard passing plateau. He rates No. 2 nationally in total offense and No. 4 in pass efficiency. Briggs led a UA defense that thwarted the nation's No. 2 rushing team, holding it to 32 net yards via the run, with six tackles, two for losses, one forced fumble and one sack. Keel tallied three field goals (21,19 and 39 yards), an hit two PATs to score nearly half UA's points against Utah. He's No. 2 nationally with 2.5 field goals per game. Cornerback Michael Jolivette won Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors following the opener, in which he blocked two punts. Johnson and CB Darrell Brooks were the other UA nominees that week.

Miscellany of Late...

...Clarence Farmer's 33 carries against Utah tied his career-high workload against UCLA in 2000... Sean Keel's three field goals in four attempts vs. Utah tied his career best for most in a game (3-for-3 vs. Stanford in 2001). Keel passed former wide receiver Dennis Northcutt into No. 8 on the UA scoring chart with 11 points vs. Utah, giving him 172 career markers... Whip linebacker Matt Molina has started while Joe Siofele fills in at defensive end for injured Andre Torrey, and has three tackles and a batted pass in each of the first two games, plus a sack... With 23 first downs last week, Arizona has notched 73 total in its last three games including last year's finale against Arizona State... UA has averaged 80 plays in its first two games. The 82 plays UA ran against NAU is a John Mackovic-era UA high... ...The tight end factored against NAU, with James Hugo catching a 20-yard scoring pass and Justin Levasseur snagging another for 23 markers... Arizona did not have a kickoff return in either of its first two games, but has some weapons back there with Bobby Wade, Andrae Thurman and Gary Love... Love and safety Clay Hardt continue to make the hits downfield on punt and kickoff coverage...

Arizona Head Coach John Mackovic

Arizona is aiming high and hoping for great things. It starts with the head coach, who might be said to heed Ralph Waldo Emerson, and hitch his wagon to a star. In his case the star would be offensive. The Cats' 37-3 victory against Northern Arizona Aug. 31 was one point shy of the Wildcats' highest point total a year ago, a 38-21 win over Nevada-Las Vegas. The team's 510 yards in total offense was the No. 2 figure in his tenure, behind the 578 yards UA posted against Stanford a year ago. The Cats' 416 passing yards against a quality Utah secondary is the third-highest total in Arizona history and just passed Mackovic's Arizona best, 415 yards against Stanford a year ago. UA's 26th head coach enters his 18th year as a collegiate head coach, athletics director or professional head coach, plus adds another dozen years in the game as a coordinator or assistant to give the Wildcats a mentor with more than three decades of established leadership and organization. The Wildcats are a well-organized group working to bring dividends in the here and now, as well as the future. Mackovic, a proven strategist, had his 2001 team unveil a sophisticated attack that produced a 2,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a near 1,000-yard receiver. Mackovic served notice that under his tutelage Arizona will be a productive team that can score points. He's the first UA coach to win his first two season openers since Jim Young in 1973 and 1974, when Mackovic was the offensive coordinator in Tucson. He is among the Top 25 among active Division I-A coaches in career victories. Mackovic's first year in Tucson opened with the team snapping a program five-game losing streak, and opened the year 3-0 to complete only the third perfect non-conference campaign in the past 11 seasons. Pacific-10 Conference play ushered in some difficult going as the club extended its league losing streak to 10 games before a breakthrough. This year he's emphasized the mental readiness the team must have at the same juncture. Mackovic's second-year legacy at several previous coaching stops gives Arizona partisans optimism. At Wake Forest his second club improved by seven games. His second Kansas City Chiefs team went from 6-10 to 8-8. His Fighting Illini improved from 6-5-1 to 10-2 in his second season. Anticipation is clearly a theme in UA's camp. As the District 9 representative on the Board of Trustees of the American Football Coaches Association, Mackovic, 59, has a voice heard nationally. His focus on the total student-athlete has been underscored by eight national academic/citizenship honor winners during his collegiate career including another member (Eli Wnek) selected last year to the AFCA "Good Works Team." Arizona recorded a program-high four first-team Academic All-Pac-10 selections in 2001. Graduate quarterback Jason Johnson is among top contenders for a Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award.

Mackovic at a Glance:

? 15th year as a collegiate head coach ? Overall collegiate record: 92-70-3 (.567) ? Arizona record: 7-6 ? Pac-10 Record: 2-6 ? Arizona Road Record: 3-2 ? Arizona Home Record: 4-4 ? Career bowl teams: Eight ? Walter Camp Foundation National Coach of the Year, 1979 ? Conference Coach of the Year: ACC ('79), Big Ten ('88, '89), SWC ('95)

Offensive Prowess: Air-a-zona

Arizona has averaged 80.5 plays in its two games, with 85 runs and 76 passes for an average of 484 yards, No. 7 nationally. The air power has proven more successful to date - 823 yards via the pass to 146 by way of the run. John Mackovic's emphasis on a successful passing game is evident and his pupil, quarterback Jason Johnson, is enjoying a nice start. Arizona has never averaged more than 255 yards passing per game in a season but is a mile ahead of that mark at 411.5 UA is averaging a solid 10.8 yards per attempt and 17.5 yards per completion and will not stop throwing until someone stops it from throwing. Johnson's hitting 62 percent and seems poised to break UA's single-season record of 20 touchdown passes. (He has 5 so far). In successive games he's thrown for 381 and 416 yards, No. 5 and No. 3 among UA's top 10 single-game efforts. UA wants to run the ball more effectively but is content to get yardage and points and victories any way they come. Coordinator Rick Dykes' work with Johnson has emphasized team values and goals even as he's racking up some individual numbers.

Jason and the Ariznauts

Senior quarterback Jason Johnson and his teammates are on the quest for some golden riches - maybe not the fleece of the miraculous flying ram, but a piece of some post-season action. Johnson, in the top 25 among active Division I-A quarterbacks with 24 career touchdown throws, has done so in one scant season. His start this year puts him No. 2 in the nation in total offense and No. 4 in passing efficiency. He's thrown for successive career yardage totals -- 381 yards in the opener and 416 vs. Utah, both among the top 5 in UA single-game individual performances. He's only suffered one interception in 71 throws this year. The best for Jason and Arizona, however, is what he brings to the team in leadership. It took four years -- one as a redshirt, two as a holder and one solid year last season - to demonstrate that his aptitude and ability measure up to his work ethic. Last year he eagerly devoured the offensive strategies of John Mackovic and coordinator Rick Dykes and completed 169 passes for 57 percent , 2,347 yards and 19 touchdowns, all in Arizona's top 10 for single-season marks. That he was previously untested... was demonstrated by 13 interceptions. Now he has five 300-yard career passing games and appears capable of that each time out. Johnson found nine different receivers in his 2002 debut, then turned to some key guys in hitting Bobby Wade and Andrae Thurman nine times each against Utah. But UA's passing game offers multiple threats and it starts with Johnson finding the open guy. A graduate student in Judaic studies, Johnson's the reigning first-team Academic All-Pac-10 quarterback, a candidate for the AFCA "Good Works Team" which cites athletic, scholastic and civic responsibility, and UA's nominee for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete post-graduate studies program. Behind Johnson, redshirt freshman Nic Costa saw action in the opener and had average success, but is blessed with a strong arm and is fleet of foot. True freshman Ryan O'Hara came on strong at the end of camp and could see action this year, according to Mackovic. Johnson, though, is the man behind UA's new offense.

Wading Deeply

Arizona's Bobby Wade has shown plenty of verve and receiving ability in his career as a Wildcat wide receiver and this year leads the Pacific-10 Conference in three major categories. He's a recent addition to the Shrine East-West Game roster (joining teammate Lance Briggs)... Wade had nine catches for a career-high 175 yards last week, on the heels of eight catches for 133 yards in the opener. That gives him five consecutive 100-yard games. The effort against Utah pushed him past Theopolis "T" Bell into No. 2 on the school career chart with 154 catches. He's third in the UA record book with 18 scoring receptions, and No. 4 with 2,270 receiving yards. His 62 receptions a year ago were the No. 4 single-season figure. He has a streak of 33 consecutive games with a reception - No. 12 nationally and eight shy of UA's record of 41 by Dennis Northcutt (1996-99). He 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. Thurman broke out with his best day against Utah, matching Wade's nine catches and totaling 165 yards, both career bests. The two-pronged 100-yard receiving duo was the first for UA since then freshman Wade and Northcutt did it in 1999 at Washington State. Relford and Williams both have two catches in each game and are pushing for more time, with Relford leading the wide-outs with a 21.0 per catch average. Pass catchers are grabbing throws at a 17.5 yards per-catch rate. Wade gives UA another dimension as well, performing admirably as a punt returner. He is among national leaders (No. 2) and tops in the Pac-10 in all-purpose yardage at 190.0 per game, thanks largely to his receiving yards (154.0 ypg, No. 3 nationally). He's No. 8 with his 8.5 receptions per game. His last five games: 41 receptions, 714 yards, seven touchdowns.

Lance-a-Lot

Senior inside linebacker Lance Briggs brings two-time All-Pac-10 credentials to UA's defense and it hasn't been done with mirrors. His total of 206 tackles in those two seasons came on the move. With 222 career hits (4 as a true freshman fullback on special teams in 1999, 12 in 2002), a big year could move him close to former UA All-American and NFL draftee Sean Harris (1991-94), a swift and rugged linebacker like Briggs who recorded 320 tackles. Briggs is a preseason All-American and clearly the top physical presence behind the line for the Wildcats. Beside him, senior Ray Wells and sophomore Kirk Johnson have solid Pac-10 experience. Johnson drew raves playing as a true freshman a year ago. True Soph Pat Howard missed the opener after knee arthroscopy but should return to the rotation. In the meantime, true freshman Spencer Larsen has played in both games and made tackles on the first two plays of his career. On the outside, junior Joe Siofele is the returning starter at whip linebacker. He started at defensive end vs. NAU and Utah, giving junior Matt Molina his first start at whip. Molina has knocked down two passes and contributed six tackles. There's no question Briggs is UA's primary sideline-to-sideline guy with some pop in his pads.

Double-Eagle Flexing Some Muscle

Despite some difficulty in 2001 - surrendering a school-record 34.3 points per game, for one -- Arizona kept its double-eagle flex defensive scheme. 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. The Cats want to be more disciplined and effective with a variety of pass-defense alignments, but expect stopping the run to be paramount. So far this year Arizona has held opponents to an average of 2.9 yards per rush and 146 net yards, rating the club No. 13 nationally and No. 1 in the Pac-10 in rushing defense. In pass defense (yards) and pass efficiency defense UA is rated No. 15, and overall the unit takes a No. 3 rating in total defense to Madison, giving up 203 yards per game. Too, opponents have scored 10 points per game, rating the Wildcats sixth nationally and first in the league. It's a good start toward the reinvigoration of Arizona's proud tradition on the defensive side of the ball.

All Eggs Not in One Basket

Despite Arizona's early success in the passing game, its situation at halfback is deep, with three options starting with junior Clarence Farmer, the first-team All-Pac-10 pick in 2001, and a career 2,000-yard rusher. Redshirt freshmen Mike Bell and Gainus Scott give the program a good three-back punch. Farmer rushed for more yards (1,229) than any runner in the league a year ago and was named a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award. He has 2,003 career rushing yards and sits at No. 10 on UA's all-time top 10 chart. He had 99 gross yards against Utah but was caught behind the line a number of times for 79 net on 33 carries, his career high. He was held to 29 yards on 16 carries vs. NAU. He's capable of breaking away, though, with a career average of 22.9 yards on 16 career touchdown runs. Bell's an explosive player who led the club with 59 yards on 13 carries in the opener, while Scott added 28 on six carries. Their averages of 4.5 and 4.7 per tote were solid in their collegiate debuts. Farmer caught three balls in the opener, his single-game career high, then added two catches for 29 yards against Utah.

Special J

Junior cornerback Michael Jolivette blocked two punts against Northern Arizona to earn Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors. The two blocks in one game are a school record. The season mark is five by Wally Scott in 1967 and it might be in jeopardy. Arizona's off-season work in the secondary centered around stopping the litany of big plays which plagued the defense in 2001. Jolivette intercepted five passes and set an Arizona single-season record in breaking up 20 passes a year ago. Michael's been a fixture of UA's secondary since then quarterback Keith Smith told bystanders in summer 1999 that there was only one guy who was covering wide receiver Dennis Northcutt with any regularity in informal drills - Jolivette. Since, he's intercepted five passes in each of his first two years (after redshirting the '99 season), good enough for national Top 20 rankings. He's tied for No. 4 among active Division I-A players with 10 career picks. Across from Jolivette, redshirt freshman Darrell Brooks wrested the top role. He had six tackles and broke up two passes in his debut, and appears to give UA solid strength on both sides of the field. Senior David Hinton also brings a veteran mind-set to the secondary, and converted wide receiver Gary Love also saw action on the edge against NAU and Utah. At free safety, senior Jarvie Worcester is the dean of the secondary, a fifth-year player with three years' experience. Junior Clay Hardt is the starter at strong safety and has nine tackles in two games, including two for losses and two pass deflections. He can also play free safety, where true freshman Lamon Means has raised some eyebrows with his potential. Sophomore Tony Wingate and junior Anthony Fulcher at safety and junior Luis Nunez at cornerback also see action in the secondary and on special teams.

The Little Streak

It's a modest winning streak, but Arizona's football program seemingly turned a corner in last year's closing weeks, then put on a show in the season finale and beat Arizona State. The program's been upbeat since. The three-game winning streak matches Mackovic's start a year ago and is something to build on. Enthusiasm and a foundation of success for the program have been evident since the ASU contest. 'You're only as good as your last game' is one coaching adage. The Wildcats played an outstanding game in the finale, in all aspects, and worked hard to continue to do so this season. The NAU game gave Arizona a chance to strike while the iron was still hot. Now the Cats face a more difficult, but no less welcome, task.

The More the Merrier

Three starters along the offensive front missed the season opener because of injury, but two returned for the Utah game. Left guard Makoa Freitas injured his hand a week before the opener and had surgery. Center Keoki Fraser suffered an ankle injury in camp that kept him out of the first game. Right tackle Darren Safranek had off-season surgery (shoulder/knee) and hasn't been able to practice yet. Backup guard and placements snapper John Vorsheck suffered a concussion that kept him out of the first two games. The losses gave UA a different look vs. NAU, with sophomore Chris Johnson at left tackle, senior Aaron Higginbotham at left guard, junior Reggie Sampay at center, freshman John Parada at left guard, and junior Brandon Phillips at right tackle. The action provided offensive line coach Charlie Dickey some early game-experienced depth, and he also played true freshman center Kili Lefotu and mid-year transfer Matt Lamatsch at tackle. Coaches moved Freitas from tackle to guard a week into camp and Mackovic says he has a potential NFL future at the position. Higginbotham and Phillips are returning veterans who worked diligently in the summer to improve. Sampay's started at three positions in his career. UA has some size up front and has more in the wings with some additional true freshmen like Tanner Bell and Keith Jackson.

Sack It

Entering the season Arizona was No. 7 nationally among I-A teams with 74 sacks from 2000-2001. The team has six this year with seven players in on the action. The Wildcats have forced opponents into 16 three-and-out possessions among 29 total possessions - plus three other four-play drives, so it's not like UA has had a wealth of sack opportunities on 3rd-and-long. Meantime, opponents have collected seven sacks on about 83 passing plays the Cats have run, decent protection especially considering some early injuries that kept three offensive line starters out of the opener (Makoa Freitas, Keoni Fraser and Darren Safranek.

A New Broom Sweeps Clean

Coaches had to move whip linebacker Joe Siofele to defensive end in the first two games due to Andre Torrey's injured hip. He joined sophomore end Fata Avegalio (his first career start), sophomore tackle Carlos Williams (his first career start) and senior tackle Young Thompson. Then in the Utah game, sophomore Vince Feula had his first start ahead of Williams. True freshman end Marcus Smith, junior college end Javier Martinez, redshirt freshman tackle Brad Brittain, junior college tackle Carl Tuitavuki and redshirt freshman John Abramo also have seen action. It's not exactly an old vets brigade, but appears to be a unit with some flexibility and depth.

Field Goal Threat

Senior Sean Keel has hit five field goals in the first two games to rate No. 2 nationally and tops in the Pac-10 at 2.5 per game. He's missed from 29 and had a 52-yard attempt blocked (Utah). He's hit from 19, 21, 24, 39 and 48 yards. Sophomore Bobby Gill came on for the team's final try in the opener and hit a 26-yarder in his first career attempt. Five-for-seven (71%) tops last year's 64% success rate (9-for-14, all by Keel).

Conversions

Arizona has improved on its third-down conversion rate over last year's team. The Cats are 20-for-39 for 51 percent. Last season the team finished with a 39 percent rate. 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. Against Utah it was a more modest 7-for-18. Opponents have managed only eight third-down conversions in 30 tries, a fine defensive rate of 27 percent. Both are welcome trends....Arizona's defense has managed to force the opposition into a total of 16 possessions of 3-and-out...

Time and Tide Wait for No Man

Arizona takes more than a 10-minute edge in average time of possession into the Wisconsin game, rounded off at 35 to 26 minutes. Against Utah, a solid running team, the edge was a whopping 36:32 to 23:28 and the Utes had to disdain the run in the end. The margin is a swing of seven minutes more time with the ball than a year ago when UA trailed in time of possession, 32:03 to 27:57. More time of possession means more yards for Arizona's wide-open offense.

Waste Not, Want Not

Arizona could stand to increase its killer instinct. It's scored seven times in nine trips inside opponents' 20 yard-line, but only managed two touchdowns. Last week 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. On defense, UA could stiffen. Opponents have scored two touchdowns in four incursions, though two of those were turnover short-field possessions. NAU managed to penetrate Arizona's red zone once, and kicked a field goal, while Arizona had its only two scoring-zone touchdowns (and two field goals) in five trips. One of the TDs came on a fourth-down play from the 20 itself, a toss from Jason Johnson to James Hugo.

Arizona: 9 Scoring Zone Possessions - 78% scoring, 22% TD

Opponents: 4 Scoring Zone Possessions - 75% scoring, 50% TD

Turnabout is Fair Play

The Cats were somewhat sloppy against Utah, coughing up three turnovers which led to 14 points plus ruing a 52-yard drive. The effort left UA even in turnover margin at 0.0 UA's lone takeaway 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, 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.
Turnovers: Arizona 3, Opponents 3
Turnover Points: Arizona 3, Opponents 14
Miscue Points: Arizona 13, Opponents 14 (includes turnover, blocked/botched kick possessions

Islanders in the Desert

Arizona is among leading Division I-A institutions in the continental United States with three starters from Hawaii. Only UH itself has more than Arizona, according to Dennis Anderson of the Honolulu Advertiser. Left guard Makoa Freitas (Kamehameha High School), outside linebacker Joe Siofele (St. Louis High) and center Keoki Fraser (Kailua High) give UA the distinction. Too, UA could count defensive tackle Young Thompson (Aloa, American Samoa) and defensive end Fata Avegalio (Pago Pago, American Samoa) among its islander regulars. Starting fullback Joey Willrodt also has Polynesian ancestry, along with backup center Kili Lefotu and defensive tackles Carl Tuitavuki and Vince Feula.

Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion Grand Opening

The UA athletics department celebrated the grand opening of the new $14 million Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion last Saturday prior to the Utah game. Parts of the facility have been in use since July - the 19,000 square foot Estes Family strength and conditioning center and the 5,300 square foot Kasser Family Medical Treatment Center. The 10,000 square foot Jim Click Hall of Champions was unveiled with its new exhibits highlighting Arizona athletics heritage. The Lynch Pavilion represents the most dynamic event in Arizona athletics facility history since Arizona Stadium skybox construction in the late 1970s. The pavilion was paid for with private funds raised by the athletics department.

NOTES...

  • Junior cornerback Gary Love, who earned his first career star in nickel coverage against Utah, is a former wide receiver and the only player on the club who is a listed starter on Arizona's five primary special teams units - punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return and the "hands" team...
  • True freshman punter Danny Baugher, the USA Today national prep punter of the year in 2001, had his first appearance against Utah, kicking a 47-yarder. Junior Ramey Peru had the other four kicks in the game. Peru backed up a good camp with some of the same stuff in the opener, kicking four times for a 43.2 average and hang time to give UA coverage units the wherewithal to record a 40.5 net punting figure in the contest. Overall, he's put two inside the 20, had two fair catches and only one touchback on eight punts. A couple of sacrificial poochers have his average at 38.2, with the team net figure at 36.7. Arizona wants a higher net figure, probably a reason Baugher had a chance to keep pushing.
  • Senior tight end James Hugo and junior Justin Levasseur each had key receptions in the season opener against NAU, both on the same drive that nailed the door shut in the second quarter. At 2nd-and-10 from the UA 30 yard-line, Jason Johnson threw for 23 yards to Levasseur. Six plays later, at 4th-and-1 from the Lumberjacks' 20 yard-line, Johnson play-actioned right on a naked bootleg and found Hugo in the flat for a 20-yard touchdown play. It put UA up 27-3. Sophomore Steve Fleming also sees action in the tight end rotation. A year ago all three combined for 15 catches -- Hugo (9), Levasseur (5) and Fleming (1)...
  • Arizona has seen about two dozen new players get their initial action this year - redshirts, incoming freshmen, mid-year transfers and transfers. Notable are senior starting fullback Joey Willrodt and redshirt freshman cornerback Darrell Brooks, who each have started both games. True freshman offensive guard John Parada started the opener. Sophomore defensive tackle Vince Feula also saw his first action in the opener, and started against Utah. Other true freshmen who have played include punter Danny Baugher, wide receiver Biren Ealy, defensive end Marcus Smith, center Kili Lefotu, linebacker Spencer Larsen and free safety Lamon Means. Other redshirt freshmen are halfbacks Mike Bell and Gainus Scott, quarterback Nic Costa, fullback Sean Jones, defensive tackle Brad Brittain, defensive tackle John Abramo, special teams player Copeland Bryan and wide receiver Josh Duncan. Junior college transfers to open their careers are wide receiver Juan Valentine, offensive tackle Matt Lamatsch, defensive tackle Carl Tuitavuki and defensive end Javier Martinez. Juco transfer cornerback Luis Nunez saw his first action against Utah after missing the opener with a groin injury. Projected DE starter Andre Torrey, another mid-year transfer, has been sidelined with a hip injury since camp.
  • Senior linebacker Lance Briggs and senior wide receiver Bobby Wade have accepted invitations to join the West roster for the Shrine East-West Game early in 2003 in Palo Alto, Calif. They're currently among 19 Pacific-10 Conference players on the team to be coached by Washington State's Mike Price... Others include pre-season All-Americans in WSU's Jason Gesser, USC's Troy Polamalu, Oregon's Keenan Howry and UCLA's Mike Saffer...
  • Three players on the UA squad volunteered - with encouragement from head coach John Mackovic - to participate in a "Habitat for Humanity" community project last week in which civic-minded individuals cooperate with organizers to help build housing for the indigent. Wide receiver Bobby Wade and defensive ends Andre Torrey and Javier Martinez assisted in the effort on Sept. 11. The three players were involved in two different off-season incidents. Mackovic did not assess any game suspensions but prevailed upon the young men to make additional commitments to the Southern Arizona community... number of team members also have made trips to University Medical Center to visit with youngsters in the pediatric wing the past two weeks...
  • Arizona had a superb 13-for-21 third-down conversion rate vs. the opener vs. Northern Arizona, giving the Cats' more than half their 25 first downs in the game. That's two games in a row (plus ASU last year) that UA had notched 25 first downs...
  • In-game coaching duties spot head coach John Mackovic, defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff, offensive line coach Charlie Dickey, special teams coordinator Scott Pelluer, wide receivers coach Rob Ianello and defensive line coach Marty on the sideline this year. The high view in the coaches booth is used by offensive coordinator Rick Dykes, defensive ends coach Charlie Camp, secondary coach Steve Bernstein, running backs coach Jay Boulware and graduate assistants Jeff Rodgers and Terry Samuel.
  • Arizona had 17 players on NFL rosters for opening weekend, including 2001 seniors Steven Grace and Kevin Barry, offensive linemen who signed 2002 free agent contracts. Grace (Cardinals) and Barry (Packers) could become the first Arizona players under head coach John Mackovic to make active National Football League rosters... Only recently, the UA player with the longest active tenure in the League - offensive lineman Glenn Parker - retired after 12 years of play. The UA Sports Hall of Fame member is the new color analyst for Fox Sports Net Arizona cable productions of Arizona football games. Other NFL veterans in the Arizona group ready for 2002 action include kick returner Michael Bates (Panthers, 10 years), linebacker Brant Boyer (Browns, 8 years), punter Josh Miller (Steelers, 7 years), linebacker Tedy Bruschi (Patriots, 6 years) and tackle Frank Middleton (Raiders, 5 years)...

    Arizona When It...

    Has more first downs than opponent... 2-0
    Has fewer first downs... 0-0
    Has more time of possession... 2-0
    Has less time of possession... 0-0
    Has more total offense... 2-0
    Has less total offense... 0-0
    Has more rushing yards... 1-0
    Has fewer rushing yards... 1-0
    Has a 100-yard rusher... 0-0
    Has no 100-yard rusher... 2-0
    Has more passing yards... 2-0
    Has fewer passing yards... 0-0
    Has fewer turnovers... 1-0
    Has more turnovers... 1-0
    Has fewer penalties... 1-0
    Has more penalties... 0-0
    Has the same number of penalties... 1-0
    Has fewer penalty yards... 1-0
    Has more penalty yards... 1-0
    Has higher net punting... 1-0
    Has lower net punting... 1-0
    Has more sacks... 0-0
    Has fewer sacks... 1-0
    Has the same number of sacks... 1-0
    Blocks a kick... 1-0
    Has a kick blocked... 1-0
    Leads at the half... 2-0
    Trails at the half... 0-0
    Leads after 3 quarters... 2-0
    Trails after 3 quarters... 0-0
    Uses two quarterbacks... 1-0
    Uses one quarterback... 1-0

    Game Tickets

    The McKale Center Ticket Office is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (520-621-2287). Single-game public tickets range from $6 to $28. Arizonaathletics.com offers online purchases. Call 1-800-452-2287 toll-free.

    Arizona Football On TV

    The Wisconsin game will be shown live nationally on ESPN2. Other games have or will be selected for national or regional cablecasts or local production by FSNA.. Arizona Football on Radio

    KNST 790-AM Radio (Clear Channel) is the flagship station for live UA football broadcasts on the Wildcat Sports Network. Brian Jeffries and Les Josephson call the play. Affiliates: KKNT Phoenix, KDAP Douglas, KVNA Flagstaff, KIKO Globe, KZUA Holbrook, KLAV Las Vegas, KWRQ Safford, KTAN Sierra Vista, KNOT Prescott, KBLU Yuma. KTOX-Needles, KVSL Show Low. KNST administers UA's Spanish language broadcasts carried by KXEW Tucson and XENY Nogales with Joel Bojorquez and Francisco Romero. KNST's broadcast is available on the internet for $6.95 monthly, through RealNetworks, at arizonaathletics.com. It's also available by phone/Internet using TEAMLINE, by calling 1-800-846-4700, team code 5909.

    John Mackovic Coach's Shows

    Head coach John Mackovic's weekly radio and television shows are produced by KNST Radio, with host Brian Jeffries and the coach taping during "Tuesdays in the Huddle With John Mackovic," a public gathering at McMahon's Steakhouse at noon Tuesdays. The radio show airs at 6 p.m. Tuesdays on KNST-790 AM and the TV segment is broadcast at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on KWBA-58.

    Mackovic's Weekly Media Gatherings

    John Mackovic meets with the media in McKale Center 106 to preview games at 1 p.m. Mondays. He will review games on Sundays in a 3 p.m. teleconference. Media can call the SID office for information: 520-621-4163. Mackovic is available briefly after all practices. Mackovic will appear on the weekly Pac-10 Coaches Teleconference at 10 a.m. (MST/PDT) Tuesdays beginning Sept. 17. Pac-10 Satellite Feed: Every Wednesday, noon PT, GE2, Transponder 11. Check arizonaathletics.com for football news and information on all 19 University of Arizona sports programs.

    2002 Arizona Football Depth Chart  - Wisconsin week, Sept. 21
    

    WR 4 Andrae Thurman, 6-0, 185, *Jr., 2L, Avondale, Ariz. (Westview) 18 Lance Relford, 6-0, 200, *Jr., 2L, Houston, Texas (Booker T. Washington) 84 Ricky Williams, 6-3, 210, *So., SQ, Los Angeles, Calif. (Verbum Dei) 81 Juan Valentine, 6-1, 200, Jr., JC, Houston, Texas (Clear Lake/Tyler JC) LT 59 Chris Johnson, 6-3, 295, *So., SQ, Houston, Texas (North Shore) 78 Darren Safranek, 6-7, 290, *Sr., 3L, Tucson, Ariz. (Catalina Foothills) 76 Matt Lamatsch, 6-7, 315, Jr., JC, Clafkin, Kan. (Clafkin HS/Butler County CC) LG 77 Makoa Freitas, 6-4, 295, Sr., 3L, Manoa, Hawaii (Kamehameha) 73 Aaron Higginbotham, 6-5, 295, *Sr., 2L, Calimesa, Calif. (Yucaipa) C 67 Keoki Fraser, 6-3, 300, *So., 1L, Kailua, Hawaii (Kailua) 66 Kili Lefotu, 6-5, 298, Fr., HS, Riverside, Calif. (Arlington) RG 75 Reggie Sampay, 6-3, 285, Jr., 2L, Houston, Texas (North Shore) 70 John Parada, 6-8, 326, Fr., HS, Alta Loma, Calif. (Alta Loma) RT 68 Brandon Phillips, 6-8, 330, *Jr., 1L, Chandler, Ariz. (Corona del Sol) 76 Matt Lamatsch, 6-7, 315, Jr., JC, Clafkin, Kan. (Clafkin HS/Butler County CC) 72 Tanner Bell, 6-8, 324, Fr., HS, Castroville, Calif. (North Monterrey) TE 89 James Hugo, 6-6, 266, *Sr., 3L, The Woodlands, Texas (Oak Ridge) 88 Justin Levasseur, 6-4, 245, *Jr., 1L, Antioch, Calif. (Antioch) 87 Steve Fleming, 6-6, 250, *So., 1L, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Chaparral) WR 1 Bobby Wade, 5-11, 185, Sr., 3L, Phoenix, Ariz. (Desert Vista) 18 Lance Relford, 6-0, 200, *Jr., 2L, Houston, Texas (Booker T. Washington) 82 Biren Ealy, 6-2, 175, Fr., HS, Houston, Texas (Cypress Falls) QB 10 Jason Johnson, 6-2, 215, *Sr., 3L, Puyallup, Wash. (Rogers) 7 Nic Costa, 5-11, 200, *Fr., RS, Aloha, Ore. (Aloha) 15 Ryan O'Hara, 6-6, 195, Fr., HS, Pasadena, Calif. (Muir) HB 32 Clarence Farmer, 6-0, 224, Jr., 3L, Houston, Texas (Booker T. Washington) 26 Mike Bell, 6-0, 210, *Fr., RS, Phoenix, Ariz. (Tolleson) 23 Gainus Scott, 5-10, 195, *Fr., RS, La Porte, Texas (La Porte) FB 37 Joey Willrodt, 6-1, 240, *Sr., SQ, Salinas, Calif. (Palma/Moorpark JC) 35 Sean Jones, 5-11, 230, *Fr., RS, Houston, Texas (North Shore) 36 Gilbert Harris, 6-1, 211, Fr., HS, San Antonio, Texas (Churchill)

    DE 98 Fata Avegalio, 6-3, 255, *So., 1L, Pago Pago, American Samoa (Leone) 85 Javier Martinez, 6-4, 260, *Jr., JC, Pico Rivera, Calif. (St. Paul/Cerritos CC) DT 92 Carlos Williams, 6-4, 291, So., 1L, Denver, Colo. (Montbello) or 99 Vince Feula, 6-0, 300, *So., SQ, La Mirada, Calif. ((La Mirada) 90 Carl Tuitavuki, 6-3, 350, Jr., JC, Oakland, Calif. (San Leandro/Ricks CC) DT 93 Young Thompson, 6-2, 305, Sr., 3L, Aloa, American Samoa (Samoana) 91 Brad Brittain, 6-5, 280, *Fr., RS, Encinitas, Calif. (Torrey Pines) DE 42 Joe Siofele, 6-2, 255, *Jr., 2L, Waipahu, Hawaii (St. Louis) 55 Marcus Smith, 6-5, 220, Fr., HS, San Diego, Calif. (Mission Bay) 56 Andre Torrey, 6-4, 250, Jr., JC, Alameda, Calif. (Alameda/Laney CC) ROV 7 Ray Wells, 6-0, 220, *Sr., 1L, San Diego, Calif. (Mt. Miguel/Mesa JC) 25 Kirk Johnson, 6-1, 215, So., 1L, Oakland, Calif. (Skyline) MLB 27 Lance Briggs, 6-2, 245, Sr., 3L, Sacramento, Calif. (Elk Grove) 51 Spencer Larsen, 6-1, 225, Fr., HS, Gilbert, Ariz. (Highland) WLB 49 Matt Molina, 6-2, 240, *Jr., 1L, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Chaparral) 42 Joe Siofele, 6-2, 255, *Jr., 2L, Waipahu, Hawaii (St. Louis) KAT 33 Clay Hardt, 6-2, 200, *Jr., 2L, Marana, Ariz. (Marana) 30 Tony Wingate, 6-1, 200, *So., SQ, Tucson, Ariz. (Sahuaro) 24 Anthony Fulcher, 5-11, 195, Jr., 2L, Scottsdale, Ariz., (Horizon) CB 8 Michael Jolivette, 5-10, 180, *Jr., 2L, Houston, Texas (North Shore) 2 David Hinton, 6-1, 175, *Sr., 2L, San Diego, Calif. (Lincoln Prep) FS 47 Jarvie Worcester, 6-0, 204, *Sr., 3L, La Jolla, Calif. (La Jolla). 33 Clay Hardt, 6-2, 200, *Jr., 2L, Marana, Ariz. (Marana) 19 Lamon Means, 6-3, 190, Fr., HS, Galena Park, Texas, (Galena Park) CB 6 Darrell Brooks, 6-0, 191, *Fr., RS, Moreno Valley, Calif. (Moreno Valley) 13 Luis Nunez, 5-11, 190, Jr., JC, Chula Vista, Calif. (Hilltop/Southwestern CC) or 9 Gary Love, 5-10, 180, Jr., 2L, Los Angeles, Calif. (Jefferson)

    PK 3 Sean Keel, 6-0, 187, Jr., 2L, Littleton, Colo. (Mullen) 28 Bobby Gill, 5-11, 190, *So., SQ, Littleton, Colo. (Mullen) (KO) 34 Ryan Slack, 6-1, 195, So., 1L, Tucson, Ariz. (Salpointe Catholic) P 12 Ramey Peru, 6-1, 205, *So, 1L, Chandler, Ariz. (Dobson) 43 Danny Baugher, 5-10, 185, Fr., HS, Phoenix, Ariz. (Mountain Pointe) Hold 10 Jason Johnson, 6-2, 215, *Sr., 3L, Puyallup, Wash. (Rogers) Snaps LS 50 Ben DalMolin, , 6-0, 210, So., 1L, Globe, Ariz. (Globe) PK 65 John Vorsheck, 6-4, 305, *Sr., 1L, Laguna Hills, Calif. (Laguna Hills/Saddleback CC) -- or 42 Joe Siofele Returns 1 Bobby Wade (P/KO), 4 Andrae Thurman (KO/P), 9 Gary Love (KO)

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