Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Football Gets Ready For No. 12 Purdue
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: September 18, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Webcast Available Following Game

Subscribers to All Access from can watch a delayed broadcast of the Arizona-Purdue football game immediately following the conclusion of the contest. The footage will be provided from the stadium video board and the play-by-play and color for the game will consist of the radio call from Brian Jeffries and Lamont Lovett. For further information please click here.


Some Game Themes

Arizona hosts a Big Ten opponent for the second straight year (Wisconsin, 2004) and will square off against a Big Ten opponent for the 13th time in the last 16 seasons ... Arizona goes for back-to-back victories for the first time since 2002 ... Arizona is looking to knock off a second straight ranked opponent after defeating No. 18-ranked Arizona State last November ...  The Cats take on a ranked opponent who throttled them in the last meeting, a 59-7 yawner in West Lafayette two Septembers hence. Enough Cats (on the current roster were there to remember (more on this later)... Mike Stoops adds to the non-cupcake scheduling he was handed with a third ranked non-conference opponent in five such games... UA works to gain momentum before a pair of rugged Pac-10 road contests at Cal and USC... The Boilers might as well spend the night -- the team plane gets back to Indiana around 5:30 a.m. Sunday... The old 'what if a tree fell in the forest but no one was there -- does it make a sound?' syndrome: what if the No. 12-ranked team played a game but no one could watch it on the telly? The game will not be televised, although it will be available later at 10:30 p.m. (MST) in Internet video fashion on Arizona's athletics web site, with the video board production and UA radio call. Fans that are out of both home-market radio areas can get in the car (some models, anyway) and at least listen up on XM Satellite Radio, channel 195... 


Last Time Out

Arizona used a balanced 442-yard offensive output to take care of business in a 31-12 victory over Northern Arizona before a crowd of 54,742 in Arizona Stadium. The Cats scored 24 points in the first half, their most in that stanza since putting up 35 against UTEP in the 2003 opener. That was keyed by the Wildcats' opening drive, when they briskly swept 80 yards in six plays, using just 1:52 off the clock. Although not really, it was basically the first time in whenever since UA took the opening drive and punched it in. (It happened at Washington last November). QB Richard Kovalcheck started it off with a 42-yard toss to freshman Mike Thomas, added a 19-yarder to Syndric Steptoe, and Mike Bell ran it in from three yards for the first score. The Cats added a Nick Folk 33-yard field goal four minutes later and a scoring strike from Kovalcheck to Anthony Johnson of 25 yards early in the second quarter. NAU got on the board with a field goal by Robbie Dehaze, but Arizona put together a 10-play, 70-yard drive for a score (Brad Wood 9-yard TD catch) shortly before the break to put UA up 24-3. The Lumberjacks pecked away with an 80-yard drive to score their lone touchdown -- the first against UA by the 'Jacks since 1945 -- and capitalized on a poor snap that UA punter Danny Baugher had to kick through the end zone for a self-imposed safety to make it 24-12 by the end of the third quarter. A fumble wrecked a red-zone opportunity for UA when it lost the ball on the NAU 14 yard-line early in the fourth period, but UA's defense held for a 3-and-out and then Kovlacheck keyed a scoring drive with three passes for 35 yards and UA marched 57 yards for the final score. UA sacked NAU's Jason Murrietta three consecutive times (2 by frosh end Michael Shelton) after he led a foray to the UA 32 yard-line shortly thereafter to seal the victory. The victory was UA's fifth consecutive in home openers.


Quick Hits From Northern Arizona

- Arizona won its home-opener for the fifth straight season and for the 17th time in the last 18 years.

- Arizona saw its string of 12-straight successful red zone conversions come to an end on a blocked field goal attempt in the first quarter.

- The Arizona offense went three-and-out only once in the game and had drives of seven or more plays eight times on 12 possessions in the contest.

- The 298 yards of total offense in the first half were the most for a UA team in the first 30 minutes of a game since posting 368 yards against NAU in 2002 (35 games).

- Arizona’s five sacks against NAU tied the five at Washington a year ago for the most in the Mike Stoops’ era. True freshman end Michael Shelton had successive sacks ?- following one by Paul Philipp ?- on NAU’s final possession of the game, to boost the total substantially

- Mike Bell rushed for over 100 yards in a game for the eighth time in his career.

- Bell’s three-yard TD run in the first quarter was the 13th of his career.

- With the 122 yards against NAU, Bell moved into seventh all-time on Arizona’s career rushing list (2,432).

- Anthony Johnson caught his first career TD pass in the second quarter.

- Linebacker Dane Krogstad recorded his first career sack against the Lumberjacks in the first quarter.

- Danny Baugher’s 64-yard punt in the second quarter was the longest of his career. Baugher’s 59.5 yard punting average against the Lumberjacks was a school record, eclipsing the 54.9 mark Sergio Vega put up against UCLA in November 1980. Vega, though, had seven kicks to Baugher’s two. UA’s team record in that category (minimum of 5 punts) is that Vega-led effort, keyed by an 80-yard punt.

- QB Richard Kovalcheck matched his career game-high for yards passed set against Utah in the season opener on Sept. 2 with 255 yards against NAU.


Purdue and Arizona - The All-Time Series

Arizona and Purdue have met just once on the gridiron. The Boilermakers downed the Wildcats 59-7 in 2003 in West Lafayette, Ind., for a 1-0 lead.


Purdue and Arizona - The Last Time Out

The Boilermakers amassed 580 yards of total offense while limiting UA to 174 in a 59-7 victory at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind., in 2003. Purdue had its way with Arizona, scoring seven points in the first quarter, 17 in the second, 14 in third and 21 in the final frame in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Boilermakers took advantage of four Wildcat turnovers to the tune of 24 points and balanced their offensive assault with 292 yards on the ground and 288 passing yards ... Arizona used three different QBs in the game (Nic Costa, Ryan O’Hara, Kris Heavner), none of whom remain on the UA roster. In fact, only two offensive players (RBs Mike Bell and Gilbert Harris) and six defensive players (Darrell Brooks, Lamon Means, Marcus Smith, Copeland Bryan, John McKinney, Marcus Hollingsworth) that posted any sort of stats in the contest are still active at Arizona. The Wildcat squad that will square off against Purdue this season has just 18 members remaining that played in the game two seasons ago, including six starters from the 2003 contest. The Boilermakers have 29 players on their 2005 roster that took part in the only other meeting between the two schools.


Noting the Boilers

Purdue opened its season last weekend with a 49-24 win over Akron at Ross-Ade Stadium ... The Boilermakers amassed 478 yards of total offense against the Zips, balancing it with 211 yards on the ground and 267 via the pass ... They scored 14 points  in the first and second quarters and put the game away with 21 points in the final frame after getting blanked in the third ... The Purdue defense, which returns all 11 starters from last season, gave up 385 total yards to Akron, mostly through the air as the Zips passed for 362 yards ... Purdue excelled in third down situations in its only game thus far, converting 11 of 18 chances for a 61 percent success rate ... QB Brandon Kirsch, who took over the starting role after the graduation of new Chicago Bears QB Kyle Orton, was effective in his first game this season, completing 22 of 34 passes (65%) for 252 and two TDs ... WR Dorien Bryant was a favored target for Kirsch, snatching nine passes for 70 yards. Teammate Dustin Keller pulled in both scoring passes from Kirsch ... Purdue utilized a host of different running backs, but got the most out of the trio of Jerod Void, Brandon Jones and Kory Sheets who teamed up to rush for 187 yards on 33 carries and two TDs.


The Stoops Boys vs. Purdue

Both Mike and Mark Stoops are familiar with upcoming Big Ten opponent Purdue. As a four-year letter winner at Iowa as a defensive back (1981-84, 3-1) and six seasons as a coach (1986-91, 6-0), Mike helped post a 9-1 record against the Boilermakers during his 10-year involvement with the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. Like his elder brother, Mark played at Iowa from 1985-1988 and went 4-0 as a player against Purdue and 2-0 as a graduate assistant from 1990-91. The elder Stoops might have an axe to grind with the Boilermakers as the last time he faced Purdue, the Boilers up-ended heavily-favored and fourth-ranked Kansas State 37-34 in the 1999 Alamo Bowl. That game marked the final contest Mike served as defensive coordinator at KSU before moving on to a similar role at Oklahoma.


A Conversion Conversion

Arizona has an early jump on its third down conversion rate from a year ago. The Cats finished with 46 successful conversions in 154 tries last season (30%), and this year rate 31st nationally with 12 conversions in 26 attempts (46%). The target, of course, is higher but just that much improvement has kept the ball in UA’s hands four more times in two games. The difference is better work on early downs. The Cats had 3rd-and-5 or less six times against NAU and converted each instance, but had 3rd-and-8 or longer six times and did not convert.


1st-and-10, Do it Again

Arizona moved the ball effectively against Northern Arizona enough to record 28 first downs, its highest total in more than a full decade. It was the most by UA since the club put up 23 at California in a 52-41 victory at Berkeley on Nov. 2, 2002, and the most since the 'Desert Swarm' years when the team notched 28 against Arizona State on Nov. 25, 1994. That team also had 28 against New Mexico earlier in the year. The total of 28 ties (seven times) for the eighth-highest total in Arizona football history. The mark is 34, against New Mexico, in both 1968 and 1969. UA hasn't hit the 30 level since 1983.


Offensive Improvement

Arizona's 187 rushing yards against NAU was the second-best total in Mike Stoops' tenure since an ineffective 258 markers at UCLA last Oct. 9. In that contest the Cats added only 93 passing yards. Better balance this year make the 187 a solid effort. In two games the Cats have rushed 77 times and passed 73 times. UA's offensive improvement has seen the Cats gain an edge in offensive plays, 150-138, whereas a season ago UA started out the year with 123 plays in its first two contests. It's also given UA 100 more offensive yards per contest (416.5).


Off to a Fast Start

Arizona’s QB Richard Kovalcheck, RB Mike Bell and WR Syndric Steptoe have all jumped off to a nice start in 2005. Kovalcheck has completed 40 passes, thrown for 510 yards and four TDs in two games, numbers that are already approaching his five-game total from last season (67 completions, 880 yards and six TDs). Meanwhile, Bell has rushed 221 yards on 42 attempts and is averaging 110.5 yards per game and 5.3 per carry. Steptoe, UA’s leading receiver in 2004 with just 30 catches, already has 12 receptions in two games this season - a number it took him four contests to reach last year.


Special K

Richard Kovalcheck has been just that in his last three games. Dating back to the Arizona State game last November, the sophomore QB has completed 57 of his last 99 pass attempts for 749 yards and seven  TDs.

Kovalcheck’s Last Three 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
Totals UA’s Record - 2-1 99 57 58 749 7


Hitting The Century Mark

As noted earlier, 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.

Mike Bell’s 100-yard Games

Date Opponent (Result) Att Yards TDs    Avg.
Aug. 30, 2003 UTEP (W, 42-7) 13 119 1 9.2
Oct 25, 2003 at Cal (L, 42-14) 19 182 1 9.6
Nov. 1, 2003 at Oregon State (L, 52-23) 25 106 1 4.2
Nov. 8, 2003 Washington (W, 27-22) 26 222 3 8.5
Sept. 4, 2004 NAU (W, 21-3) 30 124 2 4.1
Oct. 9, 2004 at UCLA (L, 31-17) 21 134 0 6.4
Nov. 26, 2004 Arizona State (W, 34-27) 23 139 0 6.0
Sept. 10, 2005   NAU (W, 31-12) 24 122 1 5.1
Totals UA’s Record 5-3 181 1,148 9 6.3


Five Plus

Mike Bell’s two-game game effort of 221 yards on 42  carries against Utah and NAU this season has given him a 5.3 yards per carry average and marked the 10th and 11th times in his 38-game career he has averaged five or more yards per carry. The senior tailback has accounted for 78 percent of the Wildcats’ rushing yards gained this season (221 of 291).


Putting on the Hits

Senior safety Darrell Brooks is moving closer to UA's top 20 chart for career tackles after his six-hit effort against NAU. Brooks has 224 total tackles. 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 - 1-1, 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’ 32 starts, the UA defense has seven different players with 11 or more career starts (SS Lamon Means 28, DE Marcus Smith 19, DE Copeland Bryan 14, DT Paul Philipp 13, CB Antoine Cason 13 and CB Wilrey Fontenot 13). On offense, lineman Kili Lefotu paces the Cats with 31 career starts, including 10 in 2004. Others with significant starting experience include RB Mike Bell (27), OL Peter Graniello (12) and WR Syndric Steptoe (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 Attempts Yards TDs Avg. Rec. Yards TDs Avg.
Bell 42 221 1 5.3 3 12 0 4.0
Henry 11 33 0 3.0 0 0 0 0
Harris 10 18 2 1.8 3 31 0 10.3
Combined 63 272 3 4.3 6 43 0 7.2

Nick Can Kick

A year ago at this time, the Arizona place kickers were coming off a season that saw them finish the 2003 season 2 for 13 and miss their final six attempts of the year. It was certainly a group that entered the 2004 season with a lot more questions than answers. Then along came Nick Folk. After narrowly missing a game-winning field goal attempt in the final minute of a 9-7 loss to Wisconsin, Folk proved his mettle by converting six of his next nine attempts over the course of the season, including a career-long 53-yarder in Arizona’s 34-27 win over rival Arizona State. The well-earned confidence from last year has carried over to the early part of 2005, as Folk has regularly booted 50+-yard kicks during practice and in scrimmages. In live action against his teammates in fall camp intra squad games, he was a perfect 5-for-5, hitting from 22, 32, 35, 46 and 47 yards. He is 2 for 3 from this season, but had a 27-yarder against NAU blocked.


Thanks For Coming

Since Mike Stoops has taken over, the interest in Arizona football has taken off and the results are easy enough to see. In eight home games since the Stoops era started, the Wildcats are averaging 50,688 fans per contest. In the last two home games alone (Nov. 26, 2004 vs. ASU, Sept. 10, 2005 vs NAU), Arizona has averaged a very solid 54,912 fans in the 56,002 seat stadium. With close to 4,000 Purdue fans expected this weekend and both season and single game ticket sales going well at UA , it would appear that the upward  trend will continue for the Wildcats and their fans. 


Back Home Again In Indiana

Well not really, but Arizona linebacking coach Tim Kish has spent more then his far share of time in the Hoosier State. Kish has served on the coaching staff of three different universities in Indiana. He spent one season at Purdue (1981), two years at Ball State (1982-83) and most recently two seasons at Indiana (2002-03). In addition to his knowledge of the all things Hoosier, Kish also knows a thing or two about the Big Ten having plied his trade at Northwestern and Illinois as well.


Replay Comes Into Play

Beginning this season the Pac-10, along with nine other Division I conferences, will have instant replay on questionable plays on the field. The head coaches in the Pac-10 will have no say on whether a play should be reviewed or not, instead the conference will assign an observer in the press box that will make the calls. “Indisputable video evidence” must be present in order for a call to be overturned by the replay official in the booth. There is no limit on the number of plays that can be reviewed by the observer during the course of a contest.

Reviewable plays are as follows:

- A runner breaking the plane of the goal line.

- Pass complete/incomplete.

- Runner/receivers/interceptor in or out of bounds.

- Recovery of a fumble.

- Touching of a pass by an ineligible receiver.

- Touching of a pass by a defensive player.

- Ruling on forward pass/fumble.

- Forward or backward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage.

- Runner not ruled down.

- Forward progress in relation to first-down marker.

- Touching of a kick.

- Number of players on a field.

- Resetting of the game clock after a reversal.

Non-reviewable plays are: Holding, offsides, illegal blocks, illegal formations, encroachment, pass interference, personal fouls, facemask, taunting/excessive celebration, false starts, roughing the passer/kicker, fighting participants.


A Change of Clothes

The Wildcats wore a new set of duds in its season opener at Utah on Sept. 2, showed off one of three the home versions last weekend against NAU and will most likely debut another version against Purdue this weekend. Arizona’s apparel partner Nike completely redesigned the uniforms and the Cats will have five different combinations to choose from this season. The front of the jersey has the players’ number along with thin piping, while the back has the players’ name, number and the Arizona name on a placard below the numeral. The road variations will feature a white jersey to go along with either white or blue pants. At home, UA will be able to choose from either a blue or red top and white or blue pants. The blue jersey can be worn with either the blue or white pants, while the red top will be worn only with the white pants. The helmet, which went from all white in 2003 to all blue in 2004, will remain the same as last year.


Wildcats Picked To Finish Eighth

Arizona was tabbed to finish eighth in the Pac-10 this season in a polling of the league’s media members. The low ranking however wouldn’t temper head coach Mike Stoops enthusiasm, “There are a lot of factors behind our optimism. We had a tough start for the program last year, but bounced back and put together a team that won two of its final three games,” he said. “One hundred percent of our players participated in off-season voluntary conditioning, and I think that tells you something about our team. The players commitment to the program and to each other is as strong as I’ve seen. We’re a much more together team. You’ll see a different team in the way we look, play, the way we run, our attitude, speed, size and quickness.”


Noting The Net

Punting, that is. New NCAA guidelines for 2005 involve a reality of the kicking game for the first time. Say a punter pops a kick that was snapped from the opponents' 48-yard line into the endzone for a touchback. The kicker gets a 48.0 average for the effort. But the ball, of course, gets placed on the 20-yard-line. The team net punting for the play (without any return) is 28.0 yards. The new rule will reflect the actual net yards on the change of possession, although the extra yardage still gets tacked on the kicker’s average.  Any return yardage also would figure into the equation. Teams with punters who can stick as many possible kicks ?'inside the 20’ (possession starts inside that line) without crossing the goal line for touchbacks will have a higher team net punting figure than one whose kicker blasts a 48 yarder instead of a 45 yarder in the above situation. (Assuming that punt coverage is good, too.)


No Let Up On The Schedule

Just like the previous two seasons, Arizona will face a tough slate in 2005. Starting with Utah and its 16-game winning streak, Arizona will face seven teams that made a postseason bowl appearance last year, including five of those games on the road. After getting the Utes, UA will host 2004 Sun Bowl participant Purdue in its final non-conference game of the year before having to head off on the road for back-to-back conference weekends against 2004 Pac-10 runner up Cal (Holiday) and defending national champions USC (Orange). Road trips to Oregon State ( and Arizona State (Sun) are sandwiched around a home contest against UCLA (Las Vegas). Also on the slate in 2005 are in-state rival Northern Arizona, Stanford and its new head coach Walt Harris, a road trip to Oregon and its senior QB Kellen Clemens and a home game against Washington and the return of Tyrone Willingham to the Pac-10.



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