Football Notes During Bye Week...
Head coach Mike Stoops says the football team could have the services of a couple of key guys on the defensive side by the time the team takes the field in Berkeley, Calif., Oct. 1 to face No. 13 California.
"We hope to get Copeland Bryan and Dane Krogstad back for Cal," Stoops said after practice Tuesday. Defensive end Bryan has missed action since the first series of the season opener at Utah and starting linebacker Krogstad was injured in the game against Northern Arizona and missed the Cats' narrow loss to No. 12 Purdue last week.
Krogstad's injury followed training camp injurires to starting linebackers Ronnie Palmer and Randy Sims. Palmer is out for at least two more weeks, while Sims missed the opener, played sparingly against NAU and was used in spots during the Purdue game. The Cats have played all three games without the expected lineup at the linebacking corps, including sophomore Spencer Larsen, who returned to action last week after spring knee surgery.
"Akin (Akinniyi) did a nice job against Purdue," Stoops said of the junior backup who led the squad with seven tackles, all solo, against the Boilermakers, "but we've just been depleted. I've never seen so many linebackers get dinged up," he said. Senior Sean Jones, who had a number of starts a year ago, is the second leading tackler among linebackers to Krogstaf's 23 and third on the team with 18 hits. Junior John McKinney also has seen action and the Cats have used plenty of nickel back formations with safety Marcus Hollingsworth starting in place of a 'backer in the Cats usual 4-3 alignment.
Bryan had the most dynamic performance in edge rushing during spring practice and has been missed. His absence and an NAU injury to his counterpart on the other side, senior Marcus Smith, has forced Stoops to go with younger players in freshmen Mike Shelton and Johnathan Turner and sophomore Jason Parker.
Stoops said Larsen, who had a hamstring problem that forced him out of his return game against NAU, is questionable for the California contest, while Smith is out indefinitely. Tackle Brad Brittain, who started in a jumbo formation at tight end at Utah (and was hurt) also is likely out of the mix for the Berkeley trip.
Stoops said the bye week gives the staff a head start on preparations for the Cal game. "We're stressing fundamentals, too. We haven't done the little things well enough to get the job done. "We need to do things a little bit better to win games," he said.
In noting the Wildcats' challenge Oct. 1, Stoops described the Bears as "a typical Cal team" of late. "They're athletic across the board, have speed all over the field, with a lot of (good) skill (position players) and a good offensive line."
The coach had some praise for UA kickers Danny Baugher and Nick Folk. Baugher leads the nation in punting after Pac-10 record-setting performances in recent weeks and Folk has been accurate in field goal kicking and doing a solid job on kickoffs. "The kicking game has been outstanding. Danny and Nick are doing what they're supposed to do. I'm nogt surprised by Baugher. I like his consistency."
Overall, Stoops said "I feel like we're gaining more confidence. We're doing things right a lot of the time. Breakdowns have hurt, and we're not good enough to overcome things like penalties." The Cats had a Stoops-era high 12 penalties against Purdue. Nine came against the offense including six false starts, a personal foul, a substitution infraction and intentional grounding. The defense was offside once and special teams were called for offside on a kickoff and an illegal block on a punt return.