Oct. 28, 2002
Arizona at Oregon State, Hungry for Pac-10 Win
The Game - Arizona (3-5, 0-4 Pac-10) takes its penultimate road trip of the year to Corvallis, Ore., to play Oregon State (5-3, 1-3) on Saturday, Nov. 2. Kickoff in 35,362-seat Reser Stadium is set for 1 p.m. PST (2 p.m. MST). The game will be produced by Fox Sports Net Northwest for tape delay showing at 1:30 p.m. Sunday on Fox Sports Net Arizona (12:30 p.m. FSNNW) with Scott Lynn and Steve Preece describing play. A capacity crowd is expected.
Some Game Themes - Arizona hopes to avoid a second consecutive 0-5 league start against a club that has won eight of its last 10 at home ... The Beavers snapped a three-game losing streak against Cal, while Arizona's woes continued last week... UA's bowl hopes hinge on running the table, while OSU needs two more victories in its final four contests... OSU is one of the two teams that beat UA by 35 points a year ago... A team that ran for 301 yards last week against the Cats, last in the league in rush defense... It's a match of multi-experienced head coaches, with UA's John Mackovic (5) and OSU's Dennis Erickson (6) combining for 11 head coaching jobs at I-A institutions and NFL franchises from coast to coast...
The Series- Arizona leads the series, 19-5-1, but the Beavers have a three-game winning streak including last year's 38-3 shellacking in Corvallis... UA's last victory in the series came in 1998 in Corvallis, 28-7... Before 1999 the Cats had gone eight consecutive seasons without a loss to OSU... OSU has outscored Arizona 71-12 in the last two games... UA is 7-3-1 in games played in Corvallis...
The Coaches - Arizona: John Mackovic (Wake Forest '65), second year at Arizona (8-11) and 15th season as a collegiate head coach (93-75-3). Mackovic has a 0-1 mark against Oregon State. Oregon State: Dennis Erickson (Montana State '69), 4th year at OSU (28-15) and 17th year overall (141-55-1). Erickson is 6-2 against Arizona including a 1-1 mark while at Washington State and a 2-1 mark while at Miami.
Arizona Last Week- A good effort by Arizona's defense kept the game in question throughout, but ninth-ranked Washington State used patience and took advantage of some key Arizona miscues to post a 21-13 victory. The Cougars hit the scoreboard first when a sack caused UA quarterback Jason Johnson to fumble through the end zone for a safety late in the first quarter. Otherwise, WSU ran 17 plays for 54 yards on five possessions in the period. The Cats' Carlos Williams blocked a field goal in the second frame and UA took a 3-2 lead three exchanges later on a Bobby Gill career-best 47-yard field goal. After the Cougs answered with a field goal, UA made its best drive of the game, moving 61 yards for a 10-5 halftime lead on Bobby Wade's 27-yard TD catch. To open the second half, WSU marched in 11 plays - five on rushes by Jermaine Green (29-119) -- to pull within two, 10-8, on a field goal. Arizona answered with a season-best 19-play drive - including two nullified punts - for another Gill field goal to make it 13-8. WSU's Jason Gesser rallied his troops and completed four passes on the next possession including a 16-yard TD strike, and WSU held the lead for good. WSU sacked Johnson twice on the Cats' next possession, then five minutes later sacked him a sixth time to force another fumble that WSU recovered for a short-field TD drive to make it 21-13. Johnson threw his second interception two plays later and Green went to work eating clock with some tough rushing. In all, Johnson was sacked seven times for -58 yards, one reason Arizona finished with minus-17 yards rushing. The Cats managed their lowest offensive output of the year, 207 net yards, lost the turnover battle, and squandered some good opportunities. UA's Bobby Wade continued to catch the ball, finishing with nine grabs for 83 yards. UA linebacker Lance Briggs had 14 tackles, returned a fumble nine yards, had a sack and two TFL, plus knocked down two passes in a good defensive effort.
Outlining Oregon State...
Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore. Enrollment: 18,000. Colors: Orange & Black. Conference: Pac-10. 2001 Record: 5-6.
...OSU won 20 of its last 23 home games. One of those losses was an eight-point decision to UCLA this year... Sophomore quarterback Derek Anderson has 17 touchdown passes, three shy of the school record of 20 by Jonathan Smith in 2000. He had five TD throws against Nevada-Las Vegas and four against Temple... In the UNLV game he tied former Heisman winner and OSU great Terry Baker's school record with six TDs "responsible for," running in another... With 1845 passing yards to date, Anderson could hit the 2,000 mark in passing against Arizona... Sophomore tailback Steven Jackson has touchdown runs of 80 (vs. UCLA) and 75 yards (vs. Fresno State) this year, a couple of reasons he's averaging 6.0 yards per carry and 125.5 per game rushing. Jackson has six career 100-yard games including two double-century marks this year - a career-best 239 Saturday against Cal and a rousing 227 yards on 25 carries (9.1 ypc) against Fresno State. He had three TDs vs. the Bears, giving him eight rushing scores this year, and he passed the 1000-yard mark at 1004 yards...The Beavers rank 20th nationally in total defense, allowing 315 yards per game... A strong secondary is one reason. OSU has a total of 15 interceptions, ranking fourth nationally, led by Lawrence Turner with four... Linebacker Nick Barnett is the Pac-10 leader with 9.8 tackles per game. He's had six double-digit games this year... Oregon State had 600 yards of total offense in its season opener against Eastern Kentucky, the fifth-best single-game total in school history. The Beavs had 510 yards against Fresno State three weeks later... One of the best things OSU has going is its punting and punt coverage. Punter Carl Tobey has a 40.6 average and OSU has held opponents to 122 return yards to give it a net punting figure of 36.9, ranking third in the league and 25th nationally... When OSU turned a corner a few years back, it turned it in a big way: Oregon State is 21-10 in the decade, whereas it took the program some nine years until it had won 20 games in the 1990s...
Injury Report for Oregon State Game
DE Fata Avegalio (shoulder, missed WSU) is probable. DE Vince Feula (knee vs. WSU) is questionable. SS Jarvie Worcester (arm at UW) is out. HB Clarence Farmer (knee vs. UNT, surgery Oct. 5) is out . CB Michael Jolivette (knee, practice before Wisconsin) is out. FB Gainus Scott (ankle, practice before UNT) is out. OT Darren Safranek (knee) has not played and is out. FB Sean Jones (arm pre-SU) is out. DE Andre Torrey (hip) has not played and is out. OG John Vorsheck (concussion) has not played and is out. OT Brandon Phillips (knee vs. Stanford) is out. Injuries have been so commonplace it's difficult to pinpoint what a 'missed start' is - Arizona's had its replacement starters subsequently injured and miss games, too. Missed Starts due to injury: 46 (Phillips-1, Avegalio-1, Briggs-1, Brooks-2, Farmer-4, Jolivette-6, Willrodt-3, Freitas-1, Hardt-1, Fraser-1, Bell-1, Safranek-8, Torrey-8, Parada-4, C. Johnson-1, Worcester-2, Jones-1).
The team will elect permanent team captains near the close of the season. Each week prior to that honor, game captains are selected by head coach John Mackovic. The game captains for Northern Arizona: QB Jason Johnson, LB Lance Briggs, FS Jarvie Worcester and TE James Hugo. Utah - LB Ray Wells, OT Makoa Freitas, WR Bobby Wade. Wisconsin - Hugo, Wells, Freitas, DT Young Thompson. North Texas - Thompson, J. Johnson, Wade, Worcester. Oregon: Freitas, Wade, Wells, CB David Hinton. Washington: Johnson, OL Reggie Sampay, Thompson, Worcester. Stanford: Briggs, Hugo, Wells, Freitas. Washington State: Hinton, J. Johnson, Briggs, OG Aaron Higginbotham. Oregon State: TBA
Linebacker Lance Briggs and place kicker Bobby Gill were UA nominees for league players of the week Oct. 26. Briggs had 14 tackles, including three for losses and a sack, broke up two passes and recovered a fumble. It was the 13th double-digit tackle game in his career. Gill hit a career-long 47 yard field goal and added a 42-yarder vs. the Cougars.
Miscellany of Late...
...Sophomore Bobby Gill had his fourth consecutive start as the place kicker against WSU and knocked a career-long 47-yard FG, plus a 42-yarder to make him 5-of-7 on the year...
...Another new guy hit the scene for UA last week. Kicker James Molina, a junior squadman, saw action on three kickoffs in the second and third quarters - then with in-game jitters gone, came on to punt. His first two tries were negated by WSU penalties, but he booted a 52-yard punt moments into the fourth quarter. Molina's been punting well in practice and earned a shot at some PT, in favor of freshman Danny Baugher...
...Redshirt freshman defensive end Copeland Bryan, a non-scholarship player, earned a start vs. the Cougars due to a shoulder injury to Fata Avegalio, and responded with five tackles including a sack. He has 2.5 sacks on the season...
...Bobby Wade's 27receptions in the past three weeks moved him into No. 5 on the all-time Pac-10 chart with 204 catches. Five other players have reached the 200 mark - Troy Walters (248, SU), DeRonnie Pitts (228, SU), Dennis Northcutt (223, UA), Darrin Nelson (223, SU) and Johnnie Morton (201, USC). His current pace could push him to No. 2...
...Arizona crossed midfield three times against Washington State, scoring on all three possessions, but that was it. No red-zone entry...
...Redshirt freshman halfback Mike Bell returned to reasonable health (turf toe) against WSU, carrying seven times for 25 yards, while true freshman Beau Carr had five carries for 24 yards. Not scintillating, but overall effective at 4.1 yards per carry. Unfortunately Jason Johnson lost 58 yards on seven sacks, plus fell down another time to reduce UA's rushing total by 63 yards. The -17 total rushing yards contrasts against the school low-water mark of -49 against Arizona State in 1958...
...True freshman free safety Lamon Means made his second start against the Cougars and continued to show he's a potential physical force in the secondary. He had seven tackles and broke up a pass. In his first start at Stanford he had eight total tackles, plus helped on a tackle for loss... ...UA has only nine sacks in its Pac-10 games, compared to 23 by the opposition in those four contests. Jason Johnson and backup QB Nic Costa have lost 258 yards being sacked...
Arizona Head Coach John Mackovic
UA's 26th head coach is in his 18th year as a collegiate head coach, athletics director or professional head coach, plus adds another dozen years in the game as a coordinator or assistant to give the Wildcats a mentor with more than three decades of established leadership and organization.
Mackovic's recruiting success in his initial years in Tucson has provided Arizona some young talent that the program has had to count on during a year marred by injuries. Five of six junior college players signed for 2002 have played and the sixth is a projected starter (Andre Torrey) who's been unable to compete due to injury. Among a scholarship freshman class of 21 that reported in August, 11 have played, including starts by a punter, two offensive linemen, a running back, linebacker and defensive back.
Mackovic's first year in Tucson opened with the team snapping a program five-game losing streak, and opened the year 3-0 to complete only the third perfect non-conference campaign in the past 11 seasons. Pacific-10 Conference play ushered in some difficult going as the club extended its league losing streak to 10 games before a breakthrough. This year an injury bug throughout the year has proven troublesome, and the Cats have to fight through another rugged start in Pac-10 play. With five remaining games, worthwhile program goals remain within reach.
Mackovic's first Arizona team unveiled a sophisticated offensive attack that produced a 2,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a near 1,000-yard receiver, and this year the program has moved forward in a similar direction predicated on the passing game.
Mackovic is the first UA coach to win his first two season openers since Jim Young in 1973 and 1974, when Mackovic was the offensive coordinator in Tucson. He entered the year among the Top 25 among active Division I-A coaches in career victories and is just seven shy of the 100-victory level. Mackovic's second-year legacy at several previous coaching stops gives Arizona partisans optimism, though the margin for improvement is disappearing in 2002. At Wake Forest his second club improved by seven games. His second Kansas City Chiefs team went from 6-10 to 8-8. His Fighting Illini improved from 6-5-1 to 10-2 in his second season.
As the District 9 representative on the Board of Trustees of the American Football Coaches Association, Mackovic, 59, has a voice heard nationally. His focus on the total student-athlete has been underscored by nine national academic/citizenship honor winners during his collegiate career including two members, Jason Johnson a week ago and Eli Wnek last year, selected to the American Football Coaches Association "Good Works Team." Arizona recorded a program-high four first-team Academic All-Pac-10 selections in 2001.
No question Arizona has shown that the head coach's offensive emphasis produces firepower. The Cats' 37-3 victory against Northern Arizona Aug. 31 was one point shy of the Wildcats' highest point total a year ago, a 38-21 win over Nevada-Las Vegas. The team's 510 yards in total offense was the No. 2 figure in his tenure, behind the 578 yards UA posted against Stanford in 2001. The Cats' 443 passing yards against Washington is the biggest total in Arizona history and is the club's third 400-yard game in Mackovic's tenure. UA threw for 416 against Utah and 415 against Stanford a year ago.
Mackovic at a Glance: ? 15th year as a collegiate head coach ? Overall collegiate record: 93-75-3 (.553) ? Career bowl teams: Eight ? Arizona record: 8-11 ? Pac-10 Record: 2-10 ? Arizona Road Record: 3-5 ? Arizona Home Record: 5-6 ? Walter Camp Foundation National Coach of the Year, 1979 ? Conference Coach of the Year: ACC ('79), Big Ten ('88, '89), SWC ('95)
Last Time Against Oregon State - Oct. 13, 2001, Corvallis, Ore.
The Wildcats avoided a shutout with a third-quarter field goal but otherwise barely threatened in an eighth consecutive Pac-10 loss, 38-3, at Oregon State. Statistics, numbers and momentum favored the home team throughout, but none really mattered except to underline the trend shown on the scoreboard at the end. Offensively, the UA squad had seven possessions of 3 plays (or less) and out, while its defense gave up 415 total yards and allowed itself to be pushed around up front. It wasn=t all one-sided early, but as in earlier games several miscues in the first quarter opened the window for the opposition. First, a UA fumble on its own 35 yard-line gave OSU good field position for a scoring drive. Then a UA punt was blocked and returned 24 yards for a score. Six minutes later UA quarterback Jason Johnson was intercepted in UA=s half of the field to set up another quick scoring drive. At the half, trailing 28-0, Arizona had mustered -12 yards rushing and 43 total yards of offense on 25 plays. OSU had four times as many yards but simply had used the field-position gifts to take control. The Cats used an interception by Michael Jolivette to gain an opportunity in the third quarter but an 11-play drive stalled at the OSU 37 and the Beavers answered with their longest (65 yards) drive of the night. Finally, Jarvie Worcester=s interception set up a short field for the Cats= field goal. The final score made it 149-52 against UA in its three league games to date in 2001, the most in the Cats= 23-year Pac-10 affiliation.
The aerial attack featured so prominently in UA's season could use some help from the rushing game. UA is averaging 60.0 yards per game on the ground, better than only two schools in Division I-A. True, All-Pac-10 halfback Clarence Farmer is sidelined, and the other top guys - Mike Bell and Gainus Scott - have been hurt, too. Arizona's yardage against Washington State (207, its lowest of the year) was 100 percent from passing (224). Actually it was 108 percent, since rushing was negative. Arizona's yardage at Stanford (266 net total offense) was 92 percent (244) via the pass. Arizona's net offense at Washington (467 yards) was 95 percent passing (443). Play calling is not as one-sided, but the Cats are not running the ball effectively. The team is averaging 1.9 yards per rush on the season and 0.6 per rush in Pac-10 play. All five losses came when Arizona had fewer rushing yards than opponents. UA's suffered 23 sacks in the last four weeks, so pass protection is having a tough go because of some predictability. Arizona averaged 80.5 plays in its first two games, with 85 runs and 76 passes for an average of 484 yards. Since, the Cats have run 62, 62, 69, 70, 54 and 67 plays. Passing has netted UA 2,363 yards compared to 480 rushing this season. The play calling is split fairly even - 250 rushes, 294 passes. Arizona never has averaged more than 255 yards passing per game in a season and is ahead of that mark at 295.4, to rate 12th nationally. UA is averaging a decent 8.0 yards per attempt and 13.9 yards per completion and has to keep throwing until the running game comes around.
Seeing Red in October
Arizona is 0-8 in games played in October the past two years, all those the first half of the Wildcats' Pacific-10 Conference schedule each season. One difference this year: the average score in the four games was 25-15. A year ago it was 43-23. The Cats allowed 73 fewer points this year in the October games. There's light at the end of the tunnel.
Arizona has improved its defense considerably in one respect - scoring defense - since last year. The Cats surrendered a school-record 34.3 points per game in 2001 but have trimmed that mark to 20.0 in 2002. Arizona kept its double-eagle flex defensive scheme used since the early 1990s. But in the off season coordinator Larry Mac Duff and head coach John Mackovic looked at ways to improve and did add some wrinkles to continue the gap-control, pressure style that pushed Arizona to the top of the national statistics in total defense and rushing defense in the 1990s. Injuries have hurt some of the options the Cats planned to use, but if the offensive objective as stated by mackovic is to score about five touchdowns per game, then the Cats' defense is giving the team chances to win. The scoring defense figure rates No. 23 nationally. Still, this week UA faces an Oregon State team that's running the ball well and UA is last in the league and 68th nationally in rush defense. UA is No. 2 in the league in pass defense and 44th nationally.
Yin and Yang
A couple of statistical marks might show how Arizona was 3-1 in non-conference games and is 0-4 in league action. Most notable is the Cats' average per rush of 0.6 yards in its four league games.
Non-Conf. Pac-10 Game Score Average 21-15 15-25 Rushing Per Game 105.2 14.8 Average Per Rush 2.8 0.6 Avg. Time of Possession 31:21 26:40 Total Offense 392.8 318.0 Total Defense 315.5 413.8 Third Down Conversions 44% 37% Sacks Allowed 9-79 23-179 Sacks By 8-41 9-47
Boasting About Bobby
Arizona wide receiver Bobby Wade has proven indispensable to UA's offensive efforts, and this year leads the Pacific-10 Conference in receptions per game (8.4), receiving yardage per game (117.5) and all-purpose yardage (165.1), plus is second in total receiving yards (940). He's third nationally in catches per game, fourth in yards per game, fifth in total receiving yards and seventh in all-purpose yardage. It's proven difficult to stop him from doing his thing, as he's snagged 39 catches in the last four games despite attention from league opponents. He had nine catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, plus added 62 yards on three kickoff returns vs. the No. 9 Cougars. He had eight catches for 120 yards and added a punt return of 64 yards and two kickoff returns for 58 yards to give him 243 all-purpose yards at Stanford. He's been named to the Shrine East-West Game roster (joining teammate Lance Briggs)... Looking at a 'season's' worth of games: in the last 11 games Wade has gathered in 93 receptions for 1,345 yards and 11 touchdowns, recording eight of his 11 career 100-yard receiving games in the span... Wade had nine catches for a career-high 175 yards against Utah, but saw his streak of five 100-yard games end at Wisconsin, catching seven balls for 85 yards. He led the way with four catches for a modest 37 yards against North Texas. This year he moved into the No. 2 spot on Arizona's receiving chart with 204 catches - good enough for the No. 5 spot in Pac-10 history. He's third in the UA record book with 22 scoring receptions, and No. 2 with 2,901 receiving yards, passing former Cats Jon Horton (2,415) and Theo Bell (2,509) this year. His 67 receptions this year are the No. 3 single-season figure in Arizona history and his 62 receptions a year ago were the No. 4 single-season mark. He has a streak of 39 consecutive games with a reception - in the top dozen nationally - and three shy of UA's record of 42 by Dennis Northcutt (1996-99). His 940 yards this year are the No. 5 total in Arizona history and he's likely to become only the fourth Wildcat to exceed a 1,000-yards receiving soon.
Despite missing the Oregon game with an ankle injury, senior inside linebacker Lance Briggs leads Arizona with 67 tackles and 8.5 hits for losses. Last week against Washington State he had 14 tackles, including three for loss and a sack, a fumble recovery and two passes knocked away. A week earlier vs. Stanford he had nine tackles and came up with his fourth career interception (but first since October 2000), tipping a ball to himself in the end zone while covering Teyo Johnson. He had nine solo tackles at Washington, plus forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. He had eight tackles against North Texas and was all over the field at Wisconsin, recording 15 tackles, second only to his initial game as a linebacker when he had 16 to open his true sophomore year at Utah in 2000. With 277 career hits (including 4 as a true freshman fullback on special teams in 1999), he's moving closer to former UA All-American and NFL draftee Sean Harris (1991-94), a swift and rugged linebacker like Briggs who recorded 320 tackles. Briggs is a preseason All-American and clearly the top physical presence behind the line for the Wildcats. Beside Briggs, senior Ray Wells brings a full year's experience and has chipped in 47 hits. Sophomores Pat Howard and Kirk Johnson and freshman Spencer Larsen add the youth factor. Wells posted 10 tackles against North Texas, his career high. Howard missed the first two games after preseason knee arthroscopy, played at Wisconsin, then stepped up with six tackles against UNT, including one for a loss and a recovered fumble. He added seven tackles against the Ducks. In the meantime, true freshman Larsen has started three games, played in all eight games on the kickoff teams and made tackles on the first two scrimmage plays of his career against NAU. He earned a start vs. Oregon at whip linebacker and posted eight tackles and his first sack among two TFL. He started the last two games with four tackles in each, plus a sack against Stanford
Two to Tango
Wade and his mates in the receiving corps -- junior Andrae Thurman, sophomores Lance Relford and Ricky Williams, freshman Biren Ealy and junior college transfer Juan Valentine - give Arizona a deep group. Including tight ends and backs, 15 different players have receptions. Thurman broke out with his best day against Utah, matching Wade's nine catches and totaling 165 yards, both career bests, and added nine grabs for 142 yards and a score at Washington. He had seven catches for 89 yards against Washington State. The 100-yard game against Washington was the second time this season that Wade and Thurman had each topped the 100-yard plateau. Twelve players average more than 10 yards per catch, but Wade at 14.0 yards per pop is the go-to guy. As a tandem, the 89 receptions for Wade (67) and Thurman (38) are 16 short of the school's record 1-2 punch, 121 catches in a single season by Dennis Northcutt (63) and Jeremy McDaniel (58) in 1998. With four games remaining, that total is within reach at the current pace. Wade is on two of the top four tandems already:
In a league with three Jason quarterbacks, Arizona's Johnson is having a season as good as the others in many respects. The senior quarterback rates No. 21 nationally in total offense, directing a passing attack that rates the Cats No. 12 in the land. He's completed an average of 20.9 throws per game to rank No. 20. He crossed the 2,000-yard passing level against Stanford in the seventh game of the year and is a handful of throws from reaching the No. 3 spot on UA's single-season passing yardage chart. He's within 193 yards of the No. 1 season in UA history. He had his seventh career 300-yard game against the Huskies two weeks ago, completing 29-of-41 throws for a school-record 443 yards and three scores. His 29 completions were also a school record and career best. He upped his single-game yardage mark three times this year - throwing for successive totals of 381 yards in the opener and 416 vs. Utah, both among the top 6 in UA single-game individual performances, then hitting for the best against Washington. In the last two weeks, however, he's suffered some serious pressure (13 sacks) and thrown five interceptions to see his pass efficiency rating drop to No. 33 nationally and seventh in the league. Against Stanford he suffered three interceptions and completed 19-of-30 for 244 yards in a modest effort. Against the Cougars it was 22-for-46 for 224 yards and two picks. He's thrown nine interceptions in 283 throws this year. He spent his first year at Arizona as a redshirt, two as a holder behind Keith Smith/Ortege Jenkins before getting his opportunity last season. Last year he completed 169 passes for 57 percent, 2,347 yards and 19 touchdowns, all in Arizona's top 10 for single-season marks, but did suffer 13 interceptions. Now he has seven 300-yard career passing games and appears capable of that each time out. Johnson found nine different receivers in his 2002 debut, then turned to some key guys in hitting Bobby Wade and Andrae Thurman nine times each against Utah. Against Wisconsin, Wade again was a big target with seven catches for 85 yards, but UA couldn't really get its passing game going. Against North Texas he didn't get the Cats in the end zone through the air, but found 10 different receivers, a personal high. Against Oregon he helped Wade achieve a career high with 12 receptions, then followed that with his record-setting effort vs. Washington. He's completed passes to 15 different players this year. A graduate student in Judaic studies, Johnson's the reigning first-team Academic All-Pac-10 quarterback, a member of the 2002 AFCA "Good Works Team" which cites scholastic and civic responsibility, and UA's nominee for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete post-graduate studies program.
A Guy Named Joe
Junior Joe Siofele was the returning starter at whip linebacker, but has yet to start at the spot while filling in at defensive end in the absence of projected starter Andre Torrey. Filling in is an understatement. He has 48 tackles, second to Briggs, and the most by a UA defensive lineman since Joe Tafoya notched 54 two seasons ago - which was the most since Tedy Bruschi had 56 tackles in 1995 and 55 in 1993. That means he can put up a bigger number of tackles than any Arizona lineman in the last 10 seasons with a typical outing this week or next. Siofele had a career-high 11 tackles against Oregon and added eight at Washington. He had seven against the Cougars.
Back at You
A year ago, Carlos Williams was a true freshman tight end in a corps stacked pretty deep. So he switched to defensive end and earned some playing time. This year he's a starting tackle and a special teams player with two blocked kicks. He blocked his second field goal of the year against WSU. A year ago, Mike Schwertley was playing Arizona basketball. Two games back the walk-on defensive end blocked a field goal try at Washington in the fourth quarter of a game UA could have won. UA has five blocked kicks this season. Williams blocked another field goal against North Texas and since-injured cornerback Michael Jolivette blocked two punts in the season opener against Northern Arizona. UA blocked two punts last year. 2002 opponents have blocked three field goals (two by North Texas, one by Utah) and a punt (Wisconsin).
Bobby Wade enters the OSU game No. 18 nationally and first in the Pac-10 with a punt return average of 15.0 yards. That's one big reason UA is rated No. 5 nationally and best in the league at 16.7 yards per return. The Cats have been improving in kickoff returns over the past several weeks, but still haven't been outstanding, nor in kickoff and punt coverage. With lots of youthful participation and different faces many times this year, special teams play has been a roller coaster ride. Wade had a career-best 64-yard punt return at Stanford, then helped set up Arizona's go-ahead touchdown against WSU in the late second quarter with a 34-yard kickoff return to the UA 39 yard-line.
Speaking of special teams play: Arizona has used two guys on kickoffs - Ryan Slack and James Molina; two field goal kickers in Sean Keel and Bobby Gill; and three punters in Ramey Peru, Danny Baugher and Molina. Peru left the team to concentrate on a mid-year graduation, and true freshman Baugher started punting in the fourth game. Molina warmed up with a couple of kickoffs, then punted once for 52 yards against WSU. Gill came on in the fourth game and appears to have a good grip on the place kicking job, but don't carve it in stone.
Arizona and opponents are about equal in third-down conversion rate, with UA trailing 41% to 43%. Last week WSU turned those season figures around by making 10 of 18 third-down plays to UA's 6-for-17 effort. A week earlier UA was 3-for-11 while Stanford was 11-for-20. In the opener UA converted 13-of-21 3rd down plays and 1-for-1 on 4th down to hang on to the ball at a 64 percent conversion rate. The Huskies were the most successful opponent so far with 11 successful conversion in 17 tries. Some of UA's best defensive work in that category came against Oregon - the Ducks had a 2-for-12 effort.
Sophomore Bobby Gill made both his field goal tries against Washington State to improve to 5-for-7 this year, good efficiency. He made two of three field goals at Stanford, missing from 47 yards. Gill took over the starting role from Sean Keel. After failing on four field goals vs. North Texas, UA did not attempt a field goal against Oregon or Washington, instead proving more touchdown-effective in the red zone. Keel had hit six field goals in the first three games to rate No. 5 nationally and third in the Pac-10 at 2.0 per game. He missed from 26 and 32 yards after the blocked try against UNT, then gave way to Gill - who had his 44-yard attempt blocked. Keel also had a 52-yard try blocked against Utah. Gill came on for the team's final try in the opener and hit a 26-yarder in his first career attempt. Eleven-for-18 overall (61%) is still less than last year's 64% success rate (9-for-14, all by Keel). But Gill showed in the WSU that he has good range and accuracy. Arizona would prefer TDs, for sure.
The Scoring Zone
In percentage, Arizona and its opponents are about equal in scoring zone efficacy, but opponents are getting more chances. Arizona did not venture across the Washington State 20 yard-line, though it did strike from the 27 on a Jason Johnson-to-Bobby Wade touchdown. The two field goals by Bobby Gill finished drives which ended at the WSU 30 and 25 yard-lines. Those three were the only times UA crossed midfield in the game. The Cougars scored four times in six trips, but did let the clock expire at the UA 2 yard-line in the closing moments. The WSU drought snapped a UA 5-for-5 scoring streak on red zone penetrations although two of those were field goal trips at Stanford. Arizona did a solid job against Washington by scoring touchdowns in all three red zone penetrations, while Washington had three TDs in its four trips, also effective. The Wildcats have scored 16 times in 22 trips inside the red zone, but only eight touchdowns. Against the Mean Green, three missed field goals gave Arizona one score in four trips. UNT scored two field goals in its four trips, UA blocked another FG try and held on downs. Against Wisconsin the Cats had to settle for a field goal after Andrae Thurman's 35-yard punt return set UA up with the ball at the Wisconsin 21 yard-line. UA reached the 10 but the Badgers stiffened. Earlier, UA ended a 76-yard drive at the Utah 4 and settled for a field goal, ended a 50-yard drive at the Utah 2 yard-line and settled for a field goal, and recovered a fumble at the Utah 19 and settled for a field goal. Not exactly punching it in. Defensively, Arizona has done a pretty good job -- opponents have scored 13 touchdowns in 31 incursions.
Arizona: 22 Scoring Zone Possessions - 16 scores; 73% scoring, 36% TD (8)
Opponents: 31 Scoring Zone Possessions - 23 scores; 74% scoring, 42% TD (13)
Senior free safety Jarvie Worcester's broken right arm at Washington means every Wildcat starter in the secondary has been knocked out of games this year. Junior cornerback Michael Jolivette's knee injury in practice before the Wisconsin game took one of the Cats' best defenders out of the lineup. Against Oregon and Washington the other starter, Darrell Brooks, also was out of the lineup with a sore back, as was backup Luis Nunez (groin). Strong safety Clay Hardt missed a start against Wisconsin with an ankle injury. UA had to play true freshman Jason Martin in his first action of the year to back up starters David Hinton and Gary Love against Oregon and since, and true freshman Lamon Means stepped in and started for Worcester. At Washington the Cats closed the game with Martin and first-timer Lee Patterson (non-scholarship sophomore) anchoring the secondary with a combined one game of experience between them.
He might be able to rehabilitate a knee injury enough to make another appearance in 2002, and if junior cornerback Michael Jolivette does so it could show more of what UA's 2003 secondary will be like. Jolivette intercepted five passes and set an Arizona single-season record in breaking up 20 passes a year ago. He's been a fixture of UA's secondary since his first game in 2000. He intercepted five passes in each of his first two years (after redshirting the '99 season).
A sack-fumble gave Washington State its first two points on a safety when the ball bounced through the end zone; and another sack caused another fumble by Jason Johnson half way through the fourth quarter to lead to a short 32-yard touchdown drive -- and those 10 points factored in a game Arizona lost by eight. Turnovers do, indeed, spell doom. The Cats have held turnovers to a relative minimum, but also have not been getting their hands on the ball defensively. Arizona is No. 37 nationally with 15 turnovers, but is No. 104 nationally with only 11 turnovers gained, rating the team No. 81 in margin at -.50 per game. Three Stanford interceptions and a lost fumble hurt in the previous game, while Arizona had one pick by Lance Briggs. Stanford picked up 10 turnover points after two of the mistakes, while Arizona gave its one takeaway back in a 10-point game. UA was somewhat sloppy against Utah, coughing up three turnovers that led to 14 points plus ruined a 52-yard drive. UA's lone takeaway vs. the Utes was a recovered fumble at the Utah 19 yard-line, which resulted in Sean Keel's third field goal of the game. In the opener, Jarvie Worcester intercepted a pass and Gary Love recovered a fumble on punt coverage, but UA did not capitalize with points. Also versus NAU, two blocked punts by Michael Jolivette created short fields for touchdown and field-goal scoring drives. The Cats did not turn the ball over in that contest, nor against North Texas - a game in which UA scored on a blocked field goal return and with a short drive after a UNT fumble.
Turnovers: Arizona 15, Opponents 11
Turnover Points: Arizona 10, Opponents 51
Miscue Points: Arizona 27, Opponents 54 (includes turnover, blocked/botched kick possessions
Getting to the QB
Entering the season Arizona was No. 7 nationally among I-A teams with 74 quarterback sacks from 2000-2001. After only eight in league games the Cats have a total of 17 going into the Washington State game. Opponents have 23 sacks in the last four games and a total of 32. Cornerback Darrell Brooks, linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive end Copeland Bryan got to the QB last week against WSU. Junior DE Joe is the team leader with four, while 10 other players have been in on the action. DL Carl Tuitavuki recorded his first sack of the season at Washington, while linemate Bryan added his first solo sack on the very next play. Arizona had one sack at Wisconsin and one against North Texas, both by Siofele, who is playing a different position (DE) than his career at OLB. Opponents have lost 88 yards on Arizona's 17 sacks (while UA has lost 258 on the 32 sacks by the other guys).
...UA ran only 54 plays at Stanford, the fewest since it had the same number in a 38-3 loss to Oregon State a year ago on Oct. 13, 2001...
...Coaches had to move whip linebacker Joe Siofele to defensive when projected starter Andre Torrey's hip caused him trouble in training camp. Siofele joined sophomore end Fata Avegalio (his first career start), sophomore tackle Carlos Williams (his first career start) and senior tackle Young Thompson. Then in the Utah game, sophomore Vince Feula had his first career start ahead of Williams. In the Wisconsin game, redshirt freshman Brad Brittain had his first start ahead of Feula. True freshman end Marcus Smith, junior college end Javier Martinez and junior college tackle Carl Tuitavuki also have seen action. Feula and Martinez have been among the injured ranks, too, so redshirt freshman DE Copeland Bryan and junior walk-on DE Mike Schwertley have seen some action. It's not exactly an old vets brigade on the defensive front...
...Junior Matt Molina started four games at whip this year and has knocked down two passes, forced a fumble and contributed 18 tackles...
...The Wildcats have forced opponents into three-and-out 32 times, while opponents have forced the Cats into the minimum 23 times...
...Arizona's recent span of Pac-10 difficulty (end of the 2000, the 2001 and 2002 seasons) -- with a 2-15 record in its last 17 conference games -- is its worst such stretch since joining the league for the 1978 season. The tough part to swallow is that the Cats were competitive in many of those games. For example, the Cats have lost three straight to Washington - all in Seattle - on late fourth-quarter plays... Vs. WSU UA took a lead into the waning moments of the third quarter. At Stanford last week the club had chances to get the lead until the last five minutes of the game...
...The loss of halfback Clarence Farmer for the season took one big-play aspect away from Arizona. On his 17 career touchdown runs, the junior All-Pac-10 back has averaged 25.7 yards. He added a 70-yard score to the mix this year at Wisconsin, UA's longest play of the year... Farmer did not redshirt his freshman year but cannot get a season of eligibility restored because he played in four games this season... For that matter, the Cats have yet to start projected (post-spring) lineups because of injuries on both sides of the ball...
The McKale Center Ticket Office is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (520-621-2287). Call 1-800-452-2287 toll-free. Single-game public tickets range from $6 to $28. Arizonaathletics.com offers online purchases.
Arizona Football On TV
The OSU game will be shown tape-delay on Fox Sports Net Arizona at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. All other games have or will be selected for national or regional cablecasts or local production by Fox Sports Net Arizona.
Arizona Football on Radio
KNST 790-AM Radio (Clear Channel) is the flagship station for live UA football broadcasts on the Wildcat Sports Network. Brian Jeffries and Les Josephson call the play. Affiliates: KKNT Phoenix, KDAP Douglas, KVNA Flagstaff, KIKO Globe, KZUA Holbrook, KLAV Las Vegas, KWRQ Safford, KTAN Sierra Vista, KNOT Prescott, KBLU Yuma. KTOX-Needles, KVSL Show Low. KNST administers UA's Spanish language broadcasts carried by KXEW Tucson and XENY Nogales with Joel Bojorquez and Francisco Romero. KNST's broadcast is available on the Internet for $6.95 monthly, through RealNetworks at arizonaathletics.com. It's also available by phone/Internet using TEAMLINE, by calling 1-800-846-4700, team code 5909.
John Mackovic Coach's Shows
Head coach John Mackovic's weekly radio and television shows are produced by KNST Radio, with host Brian Jeffries and the coach taping during "Tuesdays in the Huddle With John Mackovic," a public gathering at McMahon's Steakhouse at noon Tuesdays. The radio show airs at 6 p.m. Tuesdays on KNST-790 AM and the TV segment is broadcast at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on KWBA-58.