PHOENIX--The University of Arizona's football home opener against Northern Arizona on Saturday, Sept. 10, will be shown live in Arizona and nearby markets by UA television partner FSN Arizona.
Long-time Wildcat television broadcaster Dave Sitton will handle the play-by-play, with former UA coach Larry Smith providing the color analysis for the third year. Sitton enters his 16th year as the TV voice of the Cats.
Larry Smith and Dave Sitton
The Cats open the season in just eight weeks -- on Friday, Sept. 2, at Utah in a game to be shown nationally on ESPN. Fox Sports Net is scheduled to show the season finale at ASU on national cable.
Most of the team members have remained in Tucson and continued multiple strength and conditioning workouts each week, along with some seven-on-seven drills on the field. Coaches are prohibited by the NCAA from any supervision or observation until camp commences Aug. 4, although medical treatment specialists and conditioning personnel are involved for safety purposes. A number of UA's incoming recruits also have enrolled in summer school and begun early volunteer workouts.
UA's Mike Stoops and his coaching staff will assemble as a whole again in two weeks to resume preparations for his second season as the head coach in Tucson. The Wildcats, who beat the league's preseason prognosticators with a 2-6 conference mark his first year, expect more dramatic improvement the second time around.
The bottom line for the team since the close of the 2004 campaign last November was the resumption of the Stoops' program hallmark -- consistent hard work in strength and conditioning. "No one will out-work our team," he has asserted since the beginning. That attitude has permeated the rank and file like no other aspect of Stoops' coaching.
Arizona's strengths at this point on defense -- Stoops' No. 1 love as a coach -- appear to be its secondary and improved play on the front.
The backfield is manned by graduate free safety Darrell Brooks, senior strong safety Lamon Means and sophomore cornerbacks Antoine Cason and Wilrey Fontenot. Brooks and Cason are listed on the pres-season watch lists for the Jim Thorpe Award, and Brooks has been picked as a preseason candidate for the Ronnie Lott Trophy. Both are top national awards for defensive backs.
Along the front, the mid-year addition of junior college transfer Byron Smith at nost tackle and improved play by sophomore tackles Lionel Dotson, Yaniv Barnett and Lawrence Ball should help the Cats toughen at the point of attack, while seniors Marcus Smith and Copeland Bryan put some talent and pressure on the edge at defensive ends.
Senior running backs Mike Bell and Gilbert Harris, along with sophomore Chris Henry, give UA a fine contingent for
Open-field threats Syndric Steptoe and B.J. Dennard should help the receiving corps, along with returnees Anthony Johnson and Mike Jefferson, and mid-year transfer B.J. Vickers. Senior Kili Lefotu will anchor a line that's expected to be a 50-50 blend of veteran and youthful big people who can move. Lefotu has played guard and tackle and might see action at center in 2005.