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Wildcats Open Football Season at San Diego State
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 08/24/2001
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Aug. 24, 2001

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Mackovic Era at UA Opens at San Diego State

The Game

Arizona (0-0, 0-0 in the Pacific-10 Conference, opens its 2001 season on the road in San Diego Thursday, Aug. 30, against the San Diego State Aztecs (0-0, 0-0 in the Mountain West Conference). The game will be nationally cablecast on ESPN2, with a 7:05 p.m. (PDT/MST) kickoff in Qualcomm Stadium (54,000). Pam Ward, Dean Blevins and Alex Flanagan will describe the action for ESPN2. A crowd of about 40,000 is expected.

Some Game Themes

It's the first game for Arizona's John Mackovic as the Wildcats head coach... It's the debut start for UA quarterback Jason Johnson and Mackovic's multiple-pro passing attack... San Diego State faces the first of two Pac-10 opponents, with a road game at Arizona State on tap Sept. 8... UA takes a three-game winning streak over SDSU into the game... The game pits Arizona's game-untested quarterback against a San Diego State defense considered a team strength... Arizona will look to contain SDSU running back Larry Ned, who rushed for 85 yards on 29 carries a year ago against UA and pulled off an opponent's season high with 144 yards against the Cats in 1999... How does a team (SDSU) scout a program (UA) whose head coach has been out of the game for three years?

The Series

Arizona leads the series 9-5 and won the last game, 17-3, a year ago in Tucson. The Cats also won the last game in Qualcomm Stadium between the two teams, beating the Aztecs 35-18 in 1998... Arizona owns a 2-3 mark against SDSU in games played in San Diego... The Aztecs last victory over UA at home was in 1979, a 42-10 victory... Arizona is 104-67-7 against Mountain West Conference teams... San Diego State is 11-47-3 against teams from the Pacific-10 Conference... The five games played in San Diego have been decided by an average 28 points, while the nine games in Tucson have been decided by but 10 points. In last year's game an injury-depleted Aztec team trailed by only a touchdown until about 10 minutes remained, when UA came through on special teams to cap the scoring. Safety Brandon Nash blocked a punt and Andrae Thurman returned the ball 34 yards for a score. UA forced 10 SDSU punts.

The Coaches

Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest `65) is in his first year at UA (0-0) and 14th season as a collegiate head coach (85-64-3). He is 0-0 against SDSU but helped notch Arizona victories over the Aztecs in 1974 and 1975 while Jim Young's offensive coordinator. has not coached against San Diego State. San Diego State: Ted Tollner (Cal Poly SLO, `58), eighth year (40-40), 12th year overall (66-60-1). Tollner is 2-3 against Arizona with the victories coming as coach at Southern California in 1984 (17-14) and 1986 (20-13). Mackovic and Tollner have not faced each other.

Wildcats' Work of Late

The Wildcats began their regular-season practice regimen Aug. 20 after wrapping up fall camp's two-a-days with a scrimmage Aug. 18. UA's first weeks of preparations under head coach John Mackovic were notable for an organized, quick pace and apparent sharp learning curve. Noted for offensive schemes, Mackovic and coordinator Rick Dykes took the high road and installed plenty of their extensive multiple-pro passing attack to go with some expected strength at running back. Defensively UA should be improved over last year. Will the 2001 Wildcats look different than recent UA teams? Will throwing the ball receive priority? Does an untested QB (Jason Johnson) appear suited to the package? Is defensive tenacity still an Arizona trait? Answers appeared to be `yes' throughout camp. Several special players appear poised to grow under the new leadership and the team as a whole is eager to showcase its new identity.

Aztec, Match-up Notes...

San Diego State University: Enrollment 31,500... Colors - scarlet and black... Conference - Mountain West... 2000 Record - 3-8... The Aztecs return 19 starters... Junior quarterback Lon Sheriff was the MWC's leading passer and total-offense leader a year ago after taking over for injured Jack Hawley... Running back Larry Ned, a May graduate, has been a Doak Walker Award finalist each of the last two seasons... Senior running ack James Truvillion broke off a 60-yard run in the Aztec's final scrimmage of camp, just as UA's Clarence Farmer did in UA's Fans Night session... Pre-season All-Mountain West tailback Ned, troubled by knee and shoulder injuries a year ago, carried five times for 27 yards on the first series then sat out the rest of the scrimmage... The SDSU defense recorded 12 sacks in the scrimmage and is considered to be one of the best units in the Mountain West Conference, coming off a year in which it finished No. 18 nationally in total defense... Senior receiver Derrick Lewis led Division 1-A last year with 25.2 yards per catch while junior Greg "J.R." Tolver was among national leaders with 5.64 catches per game. That made the duo the top receiving tandem in the MWC... Another SDSU receiving threat should be tight end Gray McNeill, who missed most of 2000 (and the UA game) after a knee injury. He was first-team all-league in 1999... Senior linebacker Jomar Butler led the Aztecs with 112 tackles last year, was team MVP and spearheads a strong corps behind the line... Senior nose tackle Jerome Haywood, 5-foot-9, 280-pounds, has started three years and totaled 40 tackles a year ago... Senior safety Will Demps led the club with 97 hits in 2000... Aztec placekicker Tommy Kirovski is competing against Brian Simnjanovski for the role. Kirovski was a 2000 UA mid-year juco signee who left the team after a few spring practices... Aztec linebackers coach Charlie Camp is a former UA starter and four-year letterman during "Desert Swarm" years from 1991-1995. (He redshirted his junior year in 1993). Camp finished with 219 career tackles for the Cats as an ILB, coached by current UA coordinator Larry Mac Duff... The game will be broadcast in Southern California on XTRA 690 Radio... Arizona and San Diego State meet again in 2004 (San Diego) and 2005 (Tucson)

Arizona Head Coach John Mackovic

UA's 26th head coach, John Mackovic (Wake Forest `65) assumed leadership in December 2000 and quickly demonstrated a professional and organized approach in assembling a staff, recruiting his first class and establishing the coaching processes for the 2001 Wildcat program. He draws on 17 years' experience as a collegiate head coach, athletics director or professional head coach, and as 15 seasons in coordinator or assistant positions in the trade. Further, he has three recent years' experience in the media as a college football analyst for ESPN. All things considered, the transition year has progressed extremely well and has given Arizona a mentor with extensive offensive acumen and a strong network of colleagues in the allied professions. Mackovic took over for 14-year Arizona coach Dick Tomey and switched gears in placing a primary focus on the passing game and its contemporary derivations. That being said, Mackovic determined that UA's strong tradition of defense is a useful tool, and his vision of Wildcat football involves putting the same aggressive forces to work while UA attacks with the ball. It's a swell development for Arizona partisans.

Mackovic, 57, carries a 13-year collegiate record of 85-64-3. He took three of his last four teams (University of Texas) to bowl games and has led nine teams to winning records with eight bowl trips overall as a head coach. In 32 years of coaching he has held three college head coaching positions and one top National Football League spot (Kansas City, 1983-86, 30-34-0 record), served as offensive coordinator at three different Division 1-A schools and worked as an assistant under former Dallas Cowboys' legend Tom Landry. He has Arizona bloodlines as Jim Young's four-year offensive coordinator from 1973-76, a heyday for prolific Western Athletic Conference offensive displays. He has worked with and helped to develop such noted offensive players as Arizona's Bruce Hill, Purdue's Mark Hermann, the Cowboys' Danny White, Illinois' Jeff George and Ricky Williams of Texas. Moreover, his emphasis on the total student-athlete can be underscored by seven national academic/citizenship honor winners and nine overall first-team Big 12 All-Academic honors his charges earned during his most recent coaching tenure at Texas.

Mackovic is no stranger to honors. At Wake Forest as a quarterback he won the Atlantic Coast Conference Gold Medal Award and earned Academic All-America honors his senior year. Later at WFU as head coach in 1979 he earned Walter Camp Foundation National Coach of the Year, The Sporting News College Coach of the Year, AFCA District Coach of the Year and Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year. At Illinois, where he also served as athletics director, he earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1988 and 1989. At Texas, in 1995 he was Southwest Conference Coach of the Year and a national award finalist. In 1996 he was Big XII Coach of the Year by the Austin American Statesman after taking the Longhorns to victory in the inaugural Big XII title game over Nebraska.

Mackovic has endowed an athletics scholarship in the name of his daughter, Aimee, at the University of Arizona, just as a similar endowment continues in his name at the University of Texas.

Mackovic's Turnaround Tradition

John Mackovic has stepped forward at each stop along the way in his 17-year head coaching career, improving each program. For that matter, in his first stint at Arizona as offensive coordinator (1973-76), he was part of a staff which improved UA from a 4-7 club to successive 8-3, 9-2 and 9-2 seasons. At Texas, the Longhorns were 5-6 the year before his arrival. His six-year mark: 41-28-2 with three bowl appearances. At Illinois, the Illini finished 4-7 before he arrived. His four-year mark: 30-16-1 with four bowls. At Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons were 1-10 the year before he took over. His three-year mark: 14-20 and WFU's first bowl appearance in 30 years. At Kansas City of the NFL, he took over following a 3-6 mark in a strike year and led the Chiefs to a 30-34 record and their first playoff appearance in 15 seasons.

Cats Looking For a Pac-10 Bowl Berth

Arizona's program, two years removed from its last bowl appearance, plans to contend for a bowl in 2001. The goal is reasonable, with 46 lettermen, 14 returning starters, several outstanding players on offense, defense and kicking teams, and new leadership. Why not? The Pac-10's recurring parity often surprises the prognosticators, and Arizona has a record of success in the 1990s it hopes to rekindle. Here's the highest-ranked Pac-10 team in the final AP poll for the last 10 years:

Year	Team	        AP Rank

1991 Washington No. 2 1992 Stanford No. 9 1993 Arizona No. 10 1994 Oregon No. 11 1995 USC No. 12 1996 Arizona State No. 4 1997 UCLA No. 5 1998 Arizona No. 4 1999 Oregon No. 19 2000 Washington No. 3

The Pacific-10 Conference champion traditionally goes to the Rose Bowl, but with the National Championship game in Pasadena Jan. 3, 2002, the league titlist will play in the Rose Bowl only if ranked No. 1 or 2 at the conclusion of the regular season. Otherwise the league champion will play in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Should two league teams be rated highly enough for Bowl Championship Series play, the second team could receive an at-large berth in any given year. After the Pac-10 champion is selected to the Fiesta or BCS Championship game, the Culligan Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28) receives the highest remaining team in the standings, with a tie giving the bowl selection rights among the tied teams. The Wells Fargo Sun Bowl (Dec. 31)will receive the highest remaining team in the standings for a third selection. After the berths in the Rose, Holiday and Sun bowl are filled, the Jeep Seattle Bowl (Dec. 27) receives the next highest remaining team in the Pac-10 standings. The conference will send a fifth bowl-eligible team to the Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 25).

UA Position Battles

Arizona enters its opener with starting lineups reasonably set although some roles are in contention. An injury to defensive end Eli Wnek shortly before camp began opened a spot where seniors Johnny Jackson and Austin Uku appear close. Uku strained his left knee Aug. 21 and is questionable for play Aug. 30. The starting inside linebacker spot beside All-Pac-10 performer Lance Briggs has redshirt junior Ray Wells holding off senior Shelton Ross, who was slowed in camp with a quad pull. Junior DT Young Thompson has held ground in the top unit, with 2000 starter Anthony Thomas working to reclaim a spot. Senior cornerback Jermaine Chatman and sophomore David Hinton could share a starting spot opposite sophomore phenom Michael Jolivette. Redshirt freshman tight end Justin Levasseur, the fastest at that position, had an outstanding fall camp and is contending for the No. 1 tag with junior James Hugo. Junior Bobby Wade, senior Malosi Leonard and sophomore Andrae Thurman are clear leaders in the wide receiving corps, but Gary Love, Brandon Marshall, Lance Relford, Ricky Williams and Nick Fleury have had numerous balls thrown their way as well. Sophomore Clarence Farmer and junior Leo Mills are the top two at halfback with No. 3 somewhat in question among a couple of young players like Anthony Fulcher, Tremaine Cox, Chris Harris and Mike Bell. Senior Mike Detwiler is the Cats' `bulldozer' fullback, according to coach Mackovic, but the aforementioned young guys work at that spot, too.

Offensive Line Looking Familiar, Sort Of...

Hopefully, Arizona's offensive line will read as it does in pre-season literature, with starters Makoa Freitas, Reggie Sampay, center Steven Grace, Kevin Barry and Darren Safranek from left to right. The group did not play together last year. Much of that was because Grace (shoulder) missed 10 games and Freitas (foot) missed eight. Two departed seniors, center Bruce Wiggins and three-role guy Marques McFadden were bringing along youngsters like Sampay and Safranek. Sampay played center a year ago but has switched to guard because Mackovic feels Grace is a natural, and the best center he's ever coached.

Coaches' High View and Sideline Duties

UA will spot offensive coordinator Rick Dykes, defensive line coach Marty Long, tight ends coach Jay Boulware, defensive secondary coach Steve Bernstein and graduate assistants Jeff Rodgers and Terry Samuel in the pressbox during games. On the field -- head coach John Mackovic, defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff, offensive line coach Charlie Dickey, special teams coordinator and linebackers coach Scott Pelluer, wide receivers coach Rob Ianello, running backs coach Bobby Kennedy and volunteer student assistant Adrian Koch on the sidelines.

Injury Report for San Diego State Game

Defensive end Eli Wnek (foot fracture) is out. Special teams player and defensive back Danny Perry (knee) is out. Defensive ends Austin Uku (knee) and Fate Avegalio (concussion) are questionable. Tight end Steve Fleming (ankle) is out. Wnek graduated in May and as one of the Cats' top student-athletes, spiritual leaders and current No. 1 vocal supporter, will travel with the team for the San Diego State game.

Arizona Position by Position, In Brief

Quarterbacks

Junior Jason Johnson earned the top job with a solid spring and steady improvement in camp. The season opener will be his first extended action in his fourth year in the program. He's a keen student of Arizona's new offense and has a solid understanding of coordinator Rick Dykes' strategy and John Mackovic's play calling. He is among the most eager to showcase how the new system works. Sophomore Cliff Watkins and redshirt freshman John Rattay have shown themselves to be capable throwers and remain even in the battle for the No. 2 spot. Johnson has another edge -- he's a coach's son and reads coverages adeptly. Plus he has a cornerback's mentality -- get beat once, get up and get going again. That adds some blue-collar appeal to a guy whose strength resides in his helmet.

Running Backs

Arizona has some superb tools here. Soph Clarence Farmer is a big-play back who can beat people with moves, speed or force. He showed it last year and showed it this fall. Junior Leo Mills had a 282-yard all-purpose game a year ago and adds dimension. Freshman Mike Bell is a big, quick youngster with a bright future. At fullback, senior Mike Detwiler has what Mackovic's calls the `bulldozer' effect, while frosh Tremaine Cox has a smaller darting style with good hips and strength. Soph Anthony Fulcher performed well in spring and played on special teams last year as a true freshman. All of them can catch the ball, and will certainly get the opportunity to do so.

Receivers/Tight Ends

The Wildcats go eight deep in the receiving corps and use three tight ends with varying body types. Junior WR Bobby Wade was an all-league performer as a return specialist and has the same verve catching the ball. Senior Malosi Leonard and soph Andrae Thurman had outstanding fall camps. UA has the formations to send a bunch of people out and senior Brandon Marshall and soph Gary Love, among others, will be in the mix, too. TE Justin Levasseur was one of the surprises of fall camp, putting his speed into play at the position. Big-body James Hugo is a hard guy to knock down and has soft hands. Peter Hansen, at 6-foot-8, jumps like a basketball player (he was) and catches the ball like one, too. Look for numbers from a varying combination of guys in many patterns.

Offensive Line

The top five from left to right give Arizona a chance to have one of its best fronts in years. Senior center Steven Grace is as good a player Mackovic has coached at his position, says the coach. The return of junior tackles Makoa Freitas and Darren Safranek (2000 injuries, out in spring) made a big difference in fall camp. Senior guard Kevin Barry is an accomplished UA letterman after a solid juco career. Soph Reggie Sampay was thrown into the fire as a true freshman center a year ago and is miles ahead of many his age simply because of a rugged Pac-10 indoctrination. Reserves are untested but well-trained, thanks to the extra work when the line was thin during spring ball. Junior redshirt John Vorsheck has position flexibility and senior Dusty Alexander (OG) and soph Brandon Phillips (OT) should help. A year ago the Cats suffered from multiple starting lineups on the line and good health among this corps could go a long way toward helping Arizona bring back some of its record-setting production of the late 1990s.

Defensive Line

The top priority for positions up front in UA's scheme is power. Returning starter Keoni Fraser and junior Young Thompson enter the year atop the chart, with returning starter Anthony Thompson closely behind. The latter suffered dehydration the day before reporting date and was briefly hospitalized but back in the thick of things. Redshirt freshman Vince Feula appears to be the fourth option, while junior non-scholarship player Bobby Ramsey has seen plenty of reps and does things right. Junior letterman Ben Alualu left the program before camp. Two freshmen, Matt Lam and John Abramo, have more height, a physical feature Mackovic said will be part of new recruiting efforts for front-line defenders.

Linebackers

First-team All-Pac-10 returnee Lance Briggs is "one of those rare guys who can run from sideline to sideline," says Mackovic, a player who can enter the hole or cover. "He runs. Whew," the coach notes. Spring showed junior redshirt Ray Wells would compete with senior Shelton Ross for the other inside spot, and redshirt freshman Pat Howard and true freshman Kirk Johnson also have the wheels and physical style to play UA's defense and on special teams. At whip linebacker, sophomore Joe Siofele "is probably the next outstanding defensive player here," Mackovic says, a strong quote for a program with Arizona's defensive tradition. Soph Matt Molina backs up there and has dramatically improved.

Secondary

Four returning starters and eight total lettermen in the secondary give UA a fine group of players. Soph Michael Jolivette is a "terrific cover corner who runs fast, enjoys competition and has (the requisite) bad memory," Mackovic says. He was a Freshman All-American a year ago with five interceptions. Jermaine Chatman and David Hinton are near even on the other side and David Laudermilk has game experience. Senior SS Brandon Nash is an expected team leader on and off the field, while Zaharius Johnson is a proven vet behind him. A similar situation exists at free safety where junior returning starter Jarvie Worcester and soph Clay Hardt each see time.

Kickers/Special Teams

Arizona's special teams will be manned by quick players, predominantly receivers, defensive backs and linebackers. The complexion of Arizona's place kicking performance in 2000 was colored by the percentage efficiency of Sean Keel (13 for 17, with two misses beyond 50 yards) and his continued improvement is expected. It's hoped that the Lou Groza Award candidate will not see an increase in opportunities, since scoring zone improvement (more touchdowns) is heavily emphasized by John Mackovic. UA needs sophomore Ramey Peru to be consistent as the punter, and brought in another juco rookie, James Molina, to push.

Arizona Headliners

WR, Bobby Wade, 5-11, 187, Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.

Arizona's most experienced receiver, having played in 22 career games (18 starts) ... Has three career 100-yard receiving games to his credit ... Led the Cats with 45 reception and 626 yards last season ... Should blossom under Coach Mackovic's offensive system ... Has big-play potential with 14-, 60- and 75-yards TD catches last year ... Has seven TD catches in his career ... Outstanding kick returner who led the 2000 squad with 981 yards.

PK, Sean Keel, 6-0, 200, Jr., Littleton, Colo.

Enters the year on the Lou Groza Award Preseason watch list as one of the nation's top collegiate kickers ... A Street & Smith's Preseason honorable mention All-America ... Ranked third in the Pac-10 and 26th nationally with 1.18 FG/game last year ... Made 13-of-17 field goal attempts (.765) and 25-of-26 PATs (.962) in 2000 ... Made 9-of-10 field goals inside 40 yards and was 4-of-5 on attempts of 40-49 yards last year ... Has a career long of 44 yards at Utah in the 2000 season opener ... Connected on 18-of-25 FGAs in his career (.720).

Brandon Nash, Jarvie Worcester, Eli Wnek, Malosi Leonard - Academic Stalwarts

Arizona's top academic honors candidates include seniors Wnek, Nash and Leonard, and junior Worcester. In order they carry 3.76, 3.13, 3.01 and 3.00 cumulative grade point averages while starting as college football players. Wnek's out with an injury but as active at every practice as a player on crutches can be. He and Nash earned 1st-team All-Pac-10 Academic honors, while Leonard and Worcester were honorable-mention picks. Wnek and Nash both earned degrees in May and are taking post-graduate studies.

OL, Stephen Grace, 6-3, 293, Sr., Honolulu, Hawaii

Arguably Arizona's best offensive lineman and one of the finest in the Pac-10 Conference ... Coach Mackovic has called Grace "the best center I have ever coached." ... Has recovered from shoulder surgery last year that limited him to just one game played ... Earned second-team all-Pac-10 honors in 1999 as a starter at left guard. Clearly the leader in the group up front.

RB, Clarence Farmer, 6-0, 224, So., Houston, Texas

A Street & Smith's Preseason honorable mention All-America ... A powerful, bruising back that rushed for 666 yards and five touchdowns last year ... One of only two true freshmen running backs at Arizona to post three 100-yard rushing games ... Had three runs of 35 yards in 2000, including two for scores ... Named a freshman All-American by The Sporting News.

LB, Lance Briggs, 6-1, 230, Jr., Sacramento, Calif.

The Pac-10's leading returning tackler with 113 stops ... A second-team preseason All-America pick by Football News ... A Street & Smith's Preseason honorable mention All-America ... Posted seven games with 10 or more tackles, his first on the defensive side of the ball ... Briggs' earned first-team all-Pac-10 honors last season.

CB, Michael Jolivette, 5-9, 178, So., Houston, Texas

A Street & Smith's Preseason honorable mention All-America ... A solid cover guy ... Returns after a freshman campaign that saw him tally 42 tackles and five interceptions (19th nationally) ... A second-team all-Pac-10 pick and freshman All-America as a wide-side corner.

Arizona in Season Openers

Arizona is 71-23-5 in season openers. Arizona is 6-4 in its last 10 season openers away from Tucson, a not frequent occurrence since that string began in 1971.

Cats Hope to Break Streak

Arizona brings a losing streak of five games into the 2001 season, an unexpected development 10 months ago for a 5-1 team in late October. Pac-10 football offers few warranties, and UA's collapse last year punctuated the notion. The Cats lost a school-record three consecutive Pac-10 home games, and the five league losses to close the season also were the most league games without a victory. The historical mark for consecutive losses by Arizona is seven games, by the 1957 Cats.

Men at Work

The 2001 season introduces some new coaches at work for Arizona, including head coach John Mackovic. He does have some UA background as a four-year offensive coordinator in the early 1970s. New to Wildcat football are offensive coordinator and QB coach Ricky Dykes, running backs coach Bobby Kennedy, tight ends coach Jay Boulware, special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach Scott Pelluer, defensive secondary coach Steve Bernstein and graduate assistants Jeff Rodgers and Terry Samuel. Defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff is back (1987-96 coordinator under Dick Tomey) after serving as New York Giants special teams coordinator the past four year. Undergraduate student assistant Adrian Koch is finishing up school in his fifth year and was the starting whip linebacker a year ago. Charlie Dickey (OL), Rob Ianello (WRs, recruiting coordinator) and Marty Long (DL) were hired by Mackovic off former coach Dick Tomey's staff.

New Faces in the Mix

A number of players are expected to see their first action in an Arizona uniform this year. Soph tight end Justin Levassuer had a very strong camp and is the listed starter after one year redshirting and one year as a scout team player. Freshman halfback Mike Bell and redshirt freshman fullback Tremaine Cox have performed well. Redshirt freshman tight end Steve Fleming was moved from quarterback and progressed swiftly before an ankle injury slowed him in camp. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Ricky Williams. Junior redshirt offensive lineman John Vorsheck is a top backup. Soph Cliff Watkins and redshirt freshman John Rattay are the backup quarterbacks and no doubt will see some action early in the season. DE Fata Avegalio had six sacks in spring action and is a top backup. Redshirt junior Ray Wells, redshirt freshman Pat Howard and true freshman Kirk Johnson are among top rotation inside linebackers. Redshirt freshman linebacker Ben DalMolin could see duty as a long snapper sometime this year. Freshman DT Vince Feula is a listed backup. Freshman defensive end Carlos Williams was moved from tight end in camp and has put himself on the depth chart. Redshirt sophomore Bobby Gill is earmarked for kickoff duties and has made a strong move to get opportunity as a place kicker. Sophomore transfer James Molina is contending for the punting job.

UA Likes Turnover Margin Success

Arizona was among the nation's leaders in turnover margin in 2000 and will look to keep the trend going. The Cats were 13th with a .91 per game margin, were second nationally with 33 turnovers gained, third in the country with 17 fumble recoveries and 14th nationally with 16 interceptions.

Rushing Defense?

Arizona defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff is back on the job after a stint with the New York Giants. One of his long-standing priorities has been stopping the run. A year ago the Cats led the Pac-10 and were eighth nationally in rushing defense. UA held San Diego State to 72 yards on the ground in its third game of the year. Only three teams rushed for more than 100 yards against Arizona.

Nation's Longest Rivalry Trophy Recognized -- The Territorial Cup

Arizona first played San Diego State on Sept. 25, 1931, beginning a solid long-standing rivalry. Still, Arizona and Arizona State officials worked over the summer to earn NCAA Division 1-A designation for the 1899 Territorial Cup as the oldest trophy game in America, eclipsing the battle for the Little Brown Jug, awarded annually since 1909 to the winner of the Michigan-Minnesota game. Officials of the two Arizona schools are working to complete details for the awarding of the Territorial Cup to the winning school, a replica to the winning school's president's office and awarding of two later trophies in the series -- the Saguaro Trophy for the winning coach (since 1997) and a modern sculpture piece by artist Ben Goo which is expected to be awarded to the game's Most Valuable Player. That piece formerly went to the winner of the Big Game from 1979 to 1998.

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