Dec. 9, 2008
TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona defensive coordinator Mark Stoops has been named the National Coordinator of the Week by Rivals.com.
Stoops, in fifth season as the defensive coordinator at Arizona, helped orchestrate a defensive game plan that stifled the Sun Devils throughout the game last Saturday. With UA’s high-scoring struggling to post more than seven points in the first half, the Wildcat defense made sure Arizona State had little opportunity to gain momentum.
While the Sun Devils led 10-7 at halftime, the go-ahead touchdown followed a special teams miscue that placed the ball at the 19-yard line. Five plays later, the Sun Devils has their only touchdown of the game.
Otherwise, the UA defense limited ASU’s productivity all night. Six of the Sun Devils’ 12 offensive possessions resulted in three-and-outs, and ASU was only able to convert on 3-of-12 third down opportunities. The Wildcat defense limited ASU to 162 yards, which were its second-fewest offensive yards in a game this season.
Senior cornerback Marquis Hundley provided one of the biggest plays of the evening, as his third interception of the season thwarted an ASU drive in Arizona territory. Hundley scampered 47 yards to set up a touchdown drive that put UA ahead comfortably in the third quarter.
Defensive end Brooks Reed, named an honorable mention selection on the All-Pac-10 team announced yesterday, matched a career-high with two sacks, while fellow honorable mention pick Ronnie Palmer led UA with seven tackles, including two for loss, at his middle linebacker position.
The Arizona defense finished the 2008 regular season with its best statistical numbers of Stoops’ five seasons. The Wildcats rank No. 20 in the nation in total defense, allowing 302.1 yards per game. UA allowed only 21.3 points per game in 12 regular season games, the third best mark in the Pac-10.
UA’s secondary, which Stoops is directly in charge of, turned in an impressive season defending the pass. The Wildcats rank No. 14 nationally in pass defense, allowing only 169.75 yards through the air per game, and No. 16 in pass efficiency defense with a mark of 103.94.
Devin Ross, named to the All-Pac-10 Second Team, has led UA against the pass with three interceptions and 13 passes defended, which ranks tied for seventh in the nation.
In all, the UA defense has intercepted 15 passes on the season, which matches its 2007 total. One more interception the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl against BYU on December 20, and UA will continue a trend of increasing its total interceptions every year under Stoops.
Other coordinators considered for the Rivals.com award were Oklahoma’s Brent Venables (defense), Pittsburgh’s Phil Bennett (defense) and East Carolina’s Greg Hudson (defense) and Navy’s Buddy Green (defense).