Kickoff: 3 p.m.
Site: Berkeley, Calif. - Memorial Stadium (67,537)
Television: Versus?(Tucson TV Stations - Cox Ch. 70, Comcast Ch. 29, DIRECTTV 603, DISH Network 151)
English Radio: 1290 AM The Source (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett, Pedro Limon)
Spanish Radio: 990 AM ESPN Deportes (Francisco Romero, Marco Rincon, Pedro Limon)
Please see Page 3 of the notes for Arizonaˇ?s radio affiliates.
Some Game Themes
The Cats turn to Pac-10 play, against one of the top teams in the circuit... Arizona plays the first of five league road contests, three of those in the next month... It's a new season and affords Arizona some new life, however difficult that may be. Certainly few picked UA to topple the No. 8 Golden Bears a year ago... If redemption factors in such things (last year notwithstanding), the Wildcats still smart from two shutouts the Bears pitched against UA in 2004 and 2005... UA takes on California's powerful rushing attack (No. 18 nationally) and headliner Justin Forsett (122 ypg) with a defense rated No. 23 against the run... The return game could easily factor: each team is rated in the I-A top 10 this week in punt and kickoff returns, thanks to players Antoine Cason and Devin Ross of Arizona and DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins of Cal... Arizona tries to contain the non-containable -- Cal's DeSean Jackson... Arizona sees if its No. 14-rated passing offense (321 ypg) works against Pac-10 secondaries... Arizona's defense measures itself against the Bears' 40-points-per-game offense.
Last Time Out
New Mexico took the opening drive 80 yards in 16 plays for a seven-minute tour into the end zone, and things didn't quite seem right to the 51,996 fans in Arizona Stadium. They weren't. The Lobos ended up playing better football and emerged with a 29-27 victory for their program's first victory over a Pac-10 team (since it became a 10-member league). A near-record passing night by Arizona's Willie Tuitama was tarnished by nine UA penalties, two key turnovers and another mistake that cost points. Leading 13-10 in the third period, UA drove 55 yards to the red zone, and Tuitama fumbled at the UNM 5 yard-line on a scramble, picked up and returned 39 yards by O.J. Swift. That set up a 46-yard scoring drive that gave UNM the lead for good. In the waning moments of the period, Tuitama was penned in his own end zone and was called for intentional grounding, resulting in the recorded sack/safety and two UNM points. Trailing 26-20 but with apparent life and some spark five minutes into the final period, Arizona drove to New Mexico's 24 yard-line, and Chris Jennings lost the first running-back fumble in 467 attempts, returned 30 yards by non other than O.J. Swift. That led to a 19-yard drive into field goal range and three more points. UNM's Donovan Porterie connected three times for scoring passes and posted 327 passing yards on 29-41 throwing, to overshadow Tuitama's 446 yards on 30 completions in 50 throws -- all personal bests and the No. 2 figures in each category in UA history. He also connected for three TD tosses including two by Mike Thomas. Thomas (137), Terrell Turner (109) and Anthony Johnson (102) each caught seven balls and gave UA three 100-yard receivers in one game for the first time in history. That could not overcome the effort by UNM wideouts Marcus Smith (11-164, 1 TD) and Travis Brown (10-121, 2 TD), plus UNM had some dimension with 94 rushing yards by Rodney Ferguson (26 carries) including 32 yards late in the fourth quarter when UA needed the ball. Arizona averaged a season-best 6.5 yards per play and netted 484 yards but they ended up be nothing more than numbers. New Mexico also won the physical battle. The Lobos broke up 11 passes and a number of those were in the end zone.
Notes from New Mexico
Arizona had a trio of receivers go over the century mark in yards. Mike Thomas led the way with 137 yards and two TDs on seven catches. Terrell Turner matched Money Mikeˇ?s catch total with seven and finished with 109 yards and a score. Anthony Johnson added seven more grabs for 102 yards ... The Wildcats tried just 21 rushing attempts in the contest ... Arizona completed nine passes of 20 or more yards in the game ... WR Anthony Johnson posted a career-high 102 yards receiving on seven catches ... Mike Thomasˇ? two TD grabs were a career-high ... Thomas and Tuitama hooked up for a 48 yard pass and catch, the longest play from scrimmage this season ... Terrell Turnerˇ?s 39-yard TD catch was the longest scoring play for the Arizona offense this season (Antoine Cason went 70 yards on a punt return vs. NAU) ... Wilrey Fontenot picked off UAˇ?s first pass of the season. His fifth career INT ... Willie Tuitama set career-highs for passing yards (446) and attempts (53) for a single game ... Ronnie Palmer led the defense with 10 total tackles, while Jason Parker tallied a pair of sacks, a career-best, and Yaniv Barnett got one.
Opening a Pac
This weekend marks the first weekend of Pac-10 play for both Arizona and Cal ... The Wildcats are 16-13 all-time in the first league game of the year and are 7-5 when doing so on the road ... Arizona has opened the Pac-10 season against Cal three times (1980, 1984 and 2005) and is 2-1 against the Golden Bears when doing so.
Cal and Arizona Fast Facts
First Meeting: 1978 (Cal 33 - Arizona 20)
Last Meeting: 2007 (Arizona 24 - Cal 20)
All-Time Series Record: Series tied 12-12-2
Arizona vs. Cal All-Time
Arizonaˇ?s most closely played series against any Pac-10 opponent, UA and Cal have played to a dead even draw - 12-12-2 - in 26 all-time meetings ... With how tight the all-time series record is, it certainly comes as no surprise that over half (14 of the 26) of games played between the pair have been decided by seven points or less, and that there have been two ties and two overtime games (each team is 1-1) ... The Wildcats snapped a three-game losing streak to the Golden Bears with a 24-20 upset over the No. 8-ranked team in the land last season ... Cal and Arizona had never met on the football field prior to UA joining the Pac-10 in 1978 ... Arizona is 6-6-2 all-time vs. Cal in Berkeley, but has lost the last two meetings there ... Arizonaˇ?s largest margin of victory against Cal was a 17-point win in 1986 (33-17) ... Calˇ?s largest margin of victory was a 38-0 whitewashing of the Cats in 2004.
Cal-Arizona - The Last Time Out
Antoine Cason stepped in front of a Nate Longshore pass early in the fourth quarter and raced 39 yards for the go-ahead TD as the Wildcats upset No. 8-ranked Cal, 24-20, on homecoming weekend in Tucson last November ... Calˇ?s DeSean Jackson, who had a 95-yard punt return for a TD earlier in the game, nearly brought the Bears back from defeat, but replay on what was initially ruled a 68-yard TD reception late in the fourth quarter overturned the play when video showed Jackson had narrowly stepped out of bounds on the play. The Wildcats mustered just 262 yards of total offense in the contest, but held the ball for more than six minutes longer to stave off the Bears ... A Nick Folk field goal in the first quarter ended a two-game scoreless drought by the Wildcats (UA was shut out 38-0 in 2005 and 28-0 in 2005)
Noting the Golden Bears
The sixth-ranked Golden Bears enter the weekend of play with a perfect 3-0 mark against No. 15 Tennessee, Colorado State and Louisiana Tech ... Offensively Cal is averaging 40.3 points and 436.1 yards per game thus far ... The defense is surrendering an average of 23.7 points and 371.3 yards per game ... RB Justin Forsett has scored five rushing TDs and is averaging a Pac-10-best 122.3 yards per game on the ground this season ... QB Nate Longshore is completing two-thirds of his passes and has four TD passes against one pick ... All-America candidate DeSean Jackson has 14 receptions for 112 yards this year and has found the endzone on both a rush and a punt return ... Head coach Jeff Tedford is in his sixth year at Cal and has posted a 43-20 overall record with the Bears.
Against Ranked Opponents
Under Mike Stoops, the Wildcats have proven they are capable of beating teams in the top 25. Since Stoops took over in 2004 Arizona has defeated No. 18 Arizona State (2004 in Tucson), No. 7 UCLA (2005 in Tucson), No. 25 Washington State (2006 in Pullman) and No. 8 Cal (2006 in Tucson). Prior to the 2004 upset of Arizona State, the Wildcats had not defeated a top 25 team since beating No. 22 USC in 2000. From 2001-2003 Arizona went 0-11 against ranked teams.
Arizona has posted back-to-back games with over 400 yards of total offense (490 vs. NAU, 484 vs. UNM). The last time the Cats were able to pull off that feat came in 2003 when UA had 519 yards (276 rush, 243 pass) vs. UCLA on Oct. 11 and 402 yards (201 rush, 201 pass) at Cal on Oct. 25. Should Arizona amass 400 yards of total offense against Cal this weekend in Berkeley it will be the first time it has done so in three consecutive games since 2001 (412 vs. USC, 474 at Cal, 578 vs. Stanford)
Quick, Fast and in a Hurry
UA will not dominate in time of possession and it's not an objective. Arizona opened the UNM game with a seven-yard pass, and then gained 16 yards on a rushing play. Then a 23-yard pass play. Then three more probing pass tries before a field goal. Elapsed time: 1:30 on the scoring drive. Next drive: 6 plays, 53 yards, 2:54 off the clock and seven more points. The third score: nine plays, 82 yards, 2:02. The final drive: 8 plays, 74 yards, 2:12. Things happen in a hurry when the spread is working, for the year Arizona is averaging 6.7 plays, 64.7 yards and 2:04 TOP on its TD scoring drives.
The spread offense has improved Arizonaˇ?s numbers nearly across the board through the first three games. A look at this year vs. last year through three games.
|? Stat||? 2006||? 2007||? Difference|
|?Points per game||15.7?||?26.3||?+10.6|
Offense Starting to Pile Up Yards
Arizona's league-best passing offense (321 ypg) has helped give it 1,229 yards in total offense (409 ypg) after three games. A year ago it took UA five games to get to that total and eventually the Cats checked in at 252 yards per game to rate near the bottom of Division I-A in total offense.
Arizonaˇ?s linebacking trio of Spencer Larsen, Ronnie Palmer and Dane Krogstad are three of the top four tacklers on the team this season. Larsen paces the club with 26 total stops. Palmer checks in second with 21 tackles and Krogstad fourth with 18. Last season Larsen became the first UA linebacker since 2002 to lead the team in tackles.
For the second consecutive week Arizona's defenders moved upfield and made plays behind the line. The Cats had three sacks among 10 tackles for losses of 29 yards. Sometime starting DE Jason Parker had two sacks and DT Yaniv Barnett had the other, plus another 1.5 TFLs. LB Dane Krogstad and DE Louis Holmes were in on two plays behind the line as well. UA defensive linemen were credited with 27 total tackles in the game, led by Parker and Barnett with six apiece -- both career highs -- along with three each by Holmes, freshman DT Lolomana Mikaele (career high), DT Donald Horton, DE Johnathan Turner and DT Lionel Dotson. Through three games, Arizona is nearly halfway to its 12 game season total from last year (22 TFL in 2007, 50 TFL in 2006).
Itˇ?s All Adding up
Junior quarterback Willie Tuitama's 446-yard passing yardage (30 for 50) against New Mexico was the No. 2 single-game figure in UA history behind Jason Johnson 492 markers at California in 2002 (31 for 45). The 30 completions were No. 2 behind that single-game mark by Johnson and the 50 attempts were No. 2 behind Marc Reed's 56 against Oregon State in 1956. Willie moved up the career yardage chart to No. 8 in UA history, with 3,385 on 483 throws and 279 completions (58%). Willie's 25 scoring throws also rank No. 8 in Arizona history. Here are the closest guys ahead of Tuitama in a couple of career categories:
No. 7 Bruce Hill, 5,090 yds 1973-75
No. 8 Tuitama, 3,385 yds 2005-
No. 6 Jason Johnson, 35, 1999-2002
No. 7 Alfred Jenkins, 30, 1983-86
No. 8 Tuitama, 25, 2005-
No. 6 Jason Johnson, 413, 1999-2002
No. 7 Bruce Hill, 339, 1973-75
No. 8 Tuitama, 279, 2005-
In White Lights
It was guessed in the offseason that if Arizona's new offense could just generate about 28 points per game, the Cats could be in good shape, what with a defense that's held opponents under that figure for three years. UA's almost there, at 26.3 ppg. But this year UA's scoring defense has gone up to 24.3 ppg and not conveniently so in two games. A year ago Arizona gave up 18.6 points per game in nine Pac-10 games and is looking to regain that form with the start of league play this week.
The 'Spread's' Last Time
UA's offense seems to establish some recent highwater marks each time it takes the field... The last (and only time) three players had 100 receiving yards -- vs. UNM (Mike Thomas, Terrell Turner, Anthony Johnson)... The last time a QB threw for 400 yards -- Willie Tuitama vs UNM (53-30-1, 446)... The last time a QB threw three TD passes -- Willie vs, UNM (and NAU-5)... The last time UA threw 50 passes -- vs. UNM... The last time UA averaged 6 yards per play -- vs, UNM (6.5) and NAU (6.0).
All nine of UAˇ?s offensive TDs this season have come through the air. QB Willie Tuitama has hooked up with six different receivers for scores - Mike Thomas (3), Terrell Turner (2), Earl Mitchell (1), Anthony Johnson (1), Rob Gronkowski (1) and Delashaun Dean (1). Tuitamaˇ?s nine scoring passes in UAˇ?s first three games this season has already surpassed his 10-game total of seven from last year, tied his career-high nine TD throws as a true frosh in 2005 and is 11 away from tying the school record of 20 set by Marc Reed all the way back in 1966.
Move Makes no Difference
Prior to the opening of the 2007 season the NCAA moved the kickoff starting point back five yards to the 30. The change has made no difference for junior placekicker Jason Bondzio. The first-year starter has boomed nine of his 16 kickoffs this season into the endzone for touchbacks (56%) to equal the combined total of the other nine Pac-10 Conference teams for the entire year. Bondzioˇ?s big leg has helped limit the opposition to an average of 21.9 yards per return for an average starting position of their own 22 yard-line. Those numbers will be put to the test this weekend against Cal. Kick returner Lavelle Hawkins is averaging 33.2 yards per return (fourth-best in the Pac-10 and seventh nationally), including a 90-yarder for a score already this season.
Just do it Devin
UA sophomore cornerback Devin Ross has 12 career kickoff returns for a 25.9-yard average, including a four over 30 yards. He nearly broke one against NAU on September 8 after a 52-yard burst. With a solid special teams resume under coach Joe Robinson, if Arizona has one bug-a-boo it would like to fix, it has to be a KOR for a score. All-Pro cornerback Chris McAlister of the Baltimore Ravens last did it for UA when he went 100 yards on the opening kickoff in the season opener at Hawaii in 1998.
Most Consecutive Games Without Returning A Kickoff For A Touchdown
1 Missouri 271
2 Air Force 256
3 Rice 251
4 UAB 141
5 Iowa State 134
6 Cincinnati 131
7 Memphis 119
8 Navy 111
9 New Mexico 110
10 BYU 108
Georgia Tech 108
12 Arizona 107
Week 4 of 10
With the non-conference slate left behind, the Wildcats still have their work cut out for them. UA still has seven straight weeks of football to play. Starting with the season-opener at BYU Arizona will play 10 consecutive Saturdays without a break through the first weekend of November. After the 10-game stretch with out a rest, the schedule makers have slated the Cats to play just one more game in the entire month of November and have placed the annual Duel in the Desert against Arizona State on December 1. The late season rest will probably be much needed after the early long haul but the Wildcats have made a living in November in Mike Stoopsˇ? first three season (6-4 overall and 4-1 vs. Top 25 teams).
Still Got Our Health
Heading into the fourth game of the season Arizona remains injury free. Save for a few of the regular bumps and bruises that go along with the game, the Cats again do not list a significant injury among its two-deep roster on either side of the ball for a third straight week.
Team members elected captains for 2007 in late August. The group this year includes senior linebacker Spencer Larsen, senior cornerback Antoine Cason, senior receiver Anthony Johnson, junior quarterback Willie Tuitama and sophomore offensive tackle Eben Britton. Coach Mike Stoops said voting centered heavily on a number of other senior defenders who could be chosen for individual game-captain service. Cason and Larsen are repeat captains, also chosen as juniors in 2005.
Where You at?
Arizonaˇ?s coaching staff will have the following game day positions
Mike Stoops - Head Coach
Mark Stoops - D-Coord/DBs
Sonny Dykes - O-Coord/QBs
Bill Bedenbaugh - O-Line/Run Game Coord
Joe Robinson - DEs/ST
Mike Tuiasosopo - DTs
Michael Smith - RBs
Darrell Wyatt - WRs/Pass Game Coord
Dana Dimel - TEs
Tim Kish - LBs
Dave Nichol - Off GA
Brandon Shelby - Def GA