April 5, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona football team held a scrimmage at Arizona Stadium Saturday morning. Spring football practice continued to draw attention during the team's sixth session, with nearly 75 people in attendance.
Head coach John Mackovic and the Arizona coaching staff put the Wildcats through position drills for 30 minutes to open today's practice session, and then the team scrimmaged for about 1:30 minutes. Today's practice session marked the third time the players have worked out in full pads since the beginning of spring drills.
"We had a lot of hustle and a lot of good hitting on both sides today," Mackovic said. "I liked a lot of what I saw out there. On defense, our tackling was pretty crisp and sharp, especially for the first scrimmage. We also did a good job of focusing on our downhill running and getting back to the basics."
Quarterbacks Nic Costa and Ryan O'Hara split most of the duty in today's scrimmage. Sophomore Nic Costa completed 5-of-12 passes for 43 yards and one interception. Costa hit senior wide receiver Andrae Thurman for a 12-yard reception and junior wideout Juan Valentine for a 15-yard catch. Redshirt freshman Ryan O'Hara completed 9-of-16 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. O'Hara hit junior tight end Clarence McRae for a 13-yard touchdown strike.
Costa and O'Hara hit 11 different receivers combined. O'Hara also led the quarterbacks with the longest pass of the day (31 yards). Redshirt freshman Adam Austin saw limited action and completed 1-of 4 passes for six yards.
"We tried to be as balanced as possible on offense. We tried to be 50/50 with the run and the pass, and it was good that we got Nic (Costa) and Ryan (O'Hara) a lot of opportunities to throw the ball," Mackovic said.
"Nic (Costa) had a couple of really good plays, and Ryan also did a nice job," Mackovic added. "We will evaluate both of them, but we will look at more than just their passing totals."
Junior wide receiver Ricky Williams led all receivers with three catches for 26 yards. Valentine had two receptions for 21 yards, and McRae finished with two catches for 29 yards. Walk-on Ben DiGrazia had one catch for 31 yards. Thurman had one reception for 12 yards, and sophomore Biren Ealy and sophomore fullback Pedro Limon each caught one pass for 10 yards apiece. The Wildcat receivers also combined for nine dropped passes.
"A couple of our young guys dropped some passes that should have been caught. But, it is a good sign that our quarterbacks are getting the ball on the mark," Mackovic said.
Sophomore running back Beau Carr led all rushers with eight carries for 45 yards and had a 23-yard touchdown run. Sophomore halfback Mike Bell rushed six times for 26 yards, and junior halfback Chris Harris had five carries for 21 yards. Sophomore fullback Gilbert Harris finished with five carries for 11 yards.
Arizona's defense sacked Costa and O'Hara for a combined nine times. Junior defensive lineman Vince Feula led the team with 2.5 sacks, and sophomore defensive end Marcus Smith finished the scrimmage with two sacks. Junior linebacker Pat Howard and sophomore linebacker Copeland Bryan each contributed a sack. Junior cornerback Luis Nunez had the defense's lone interception of the day. Senior strong safety Clay Hardt, junior cornerback Zeonte Sherman and junior defensive lineman Carlos Williams each broke up a pass during the scrimmage.
"Defensively, our linebackers and our secondary were really active," Mackovic said.
Senior placekicker Bobby Gill converted on 1-of-3 field-goal attempts, connecting on a 44-yard attempt and missing twice from 38 yards. Redshirt freshman Nicholas Folk missed from 35 yards in his only field-goal attempt of the day, but he converted on 2-of-2 point-after-touchdown attempts.
"I am pleased with the way the team played, and it was good to see that the players had so much enthusiasm and excitement about being out on the field," Mackovic said.
Arizona is scheduled to hold two practices before the team takes to Arizona Stadium for the annual Spring Game on April 12, at 1 p.m. The team will practice on Tuesday, April 8, at 4:30 p.m., and then again on Thursday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m., at UA's practice facility.
UA is allowed 15 spring practices under NCAA guidelines and will conclude sessions with the team's final practice on Thursday, April 24.
All spring practices are open to the public. Most are scheduled on the practice facility at North Campbell Avenue and Enke Drive, across from McKale Center, but the Spring Game and some other sessions will be held in Arizona Stadium.