April 6, 2002
TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona's top offensive and defensive units dominated the Wildcats' Spring Game Saturday at Arizona Stadium to culminate the University of Arizona's spring practice under second-year head coach John Mackovic. Under Mackovic's direction, the Blue team whipped the Red squad, 21-6.
The scrimmage lasted two hours and consisted of nearly 100 plays.
"We are a better team than we were at this time last year," Mackovic said. "And, I feel much stronger about being able to say that we are going to be an improved team. We still have a lot of work to do, like anyone does, but defensively we made the kind of strides this spring that we needed to make. Are we there yet? No, but are we on the right track? Absolutely."
"Offensively, we had some great spurts during the scrimmage, and I really like the way our defense really got around the ball today," Mackovic said. "I think that we had a good spring overall, but we still have to improve in a lot of areas from now until the season starts."
The Wildcats' probable No. 1 quarterback, senior Jason Johnson, led the Blue team's offensive attack, completing 15-of-24 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. Johnson hit senior wide receiver Bobby Wade for a 21-yard touchdown strike in the fourth quarter. Redshirt freshman Nic Costa, who worked at quarterback with both the Red and Blue squads, completed 7-of-17 passes for 65 yards and had one interception for the afternoon.
Junior Andrae Thurman led Arizona's receiving corps with five receptions for 54 yards. Senior wide receiver Bobby Wade had three catches for 54 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown pass from Johnson. Junior halfback Clarence Farmer had three receptions for 26 yards, and junior wide receiver Juan Valentine had three catches for 25 yards. Senior tight end James Hugo caught two passes for 23 yards.
Redshirt freshman halfback Gainus Scott led UA's running backs with 21 carries for 71 yards and had a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter for the Blue team. Redshirt freshman Mike Bell finished with 53 yards on 12 carries.
"Gainus Scott and Mike Bell both showed that they can be real effective ball-carriers for us. That's a real bright spot. They are older and they are more mature. They will profit a great deal by playing this year," Mackovic said.
The Blue team ended the day with 244 total offensive yards, and the Red team finished the day with 92 total offensive yards.
Arizona's defensive units tallied a total of six sacks on the day, and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Brad Brittain led both squads with two sacks. Junior cornerback Michael Jolivette had two interceptions, including a 47-yard return for a touchdown. Junior linebacker Lance Briggs led all defenders with five total tackles, including one for loss.
"Michael (Jolivette) had a real good day. I think he has had a really good spring. We know he's a good player, and last year he played satisfactorily, but I think he's playing now closer to the level we were counting on last year," Mackovic said.
"Brad Brittain showed that he can be a significant player in the middle of our defensive line," Mackovic added.
Senior linebacker Ray Wells tallied four hits, and sophomore linebacker Pat Howard had four tackles and an interception. Redshirt freshman defensive end Isaac Watts finished the day with four tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Senior cornerback David Hinton had three tackles and broke up a pass, and junior defensive end Andre Torrey had three tackles and a sack. Junior safety Clay Hardt had three hits, including a tackle for loss. Junior strong safety Anthony Fulcher forced a fumble and had three tackles, and redshirt freshman linebacker Pedro Limon had three tackles and deflected a pass.
Junior placekicker Bobby Gill converted on field goal attempts from 50 and 22 yards for the Red team. Senior Sean Keel converted on all three of his point-after-touchdown attempts as a member of the Blue team.
The coaching staff also had the opportunity to evaluate three punters during the scrimmage. Junior James Molina had four punts for 163 yards, an average of 40.1 yards per punt. Junior Ramey Peru had four punts for 132 yards, an average of 33.0 yards per punt. Redshirt freshman Ryan Fusco had two punts for 65 yards for an average of 32.5 yards per punt.
The Red and Blue squads combined for only seven penalties. The Red team had two for 10 yards, and the Blue team had five for 43 yards.
During the halftime festivities, Mackovic handed out team awards for outstanding effort during spring drills. Defensive back Darrell Brooks, Bell, Scott and Torrey each received the Newcomers' Award. The team's Improvement Awards were handed out to Brittain, Fulcher, junior tight end Justin Levasseur and senior offensive guard John Vorsheck.