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UA Football Notes: Injuries taking toll on team

Headline Photo

Junior middle linebacker Lance Briggs makes a tackle on a Washington State player earlier this season at Arizona Stadium. Briggs suffered a small break in his hand against Oregon Saturday, and will play the rest of the season with a cast on his arm.

By Kamy Shaygan

Tuesday October 9, 2001

UA's defense, which gave up more than 600 yards against Oregon last Saturday, will likely be a shell of its former self when the Wildcats take on Oregon State this weekend.

Wildcat senior defensive tackle Keoni Fraser missed the Oregon game and will be doubtful this week against the Beavers due to a concussion.

"Keoni Fraser is still undergoing some medical tests," UA head coach John Mackovic said. "We're not sure what's going on with him. He's had complaints of headaches and things, so we're doing blood work. He's seeing a neurosurgeon."

Senior defensive lineman Austin Uku will miss Saturday's matchup against OSU with torn cartilage in his knee. Uku suffered the injury during warm-ups Saturday night and will be out two to three weeks following surgery to repair the tear.

Senior middle linebacker Shelton Ross will miss two to six weeks with ankle and knee injuries, and junior outside linebacker Scott McKee is out one to two weeks with an elbow injury.

"Not having Ross will leave a void," Mackovic said. "We're going to have to make some adjustments on special teams units."

Junior middle linebacker Lance Briggs will play with a cast on his left hand for the remainder of the season after having a small break in the hand. Mackovic said that the cast should not keep Briggs out of action.

After missing two games due to an elbow injury suffered against San Diego State during the Wildcats' season opener, freshman defensive end Fata Avegalio suffered a knee injury in practice last week and is questionable against Oregon State.

Senior defensive end Eli Wnek, who suffered a stress fracture in his foot during the preseason, is doubtful to play on Saturday. Wnek will do some light running and training this week.

"We're at a point physically where we are not able to match up," Mackovic said. "If you can't stand in there physically, it will take its toll on you."

Despite being the victim of an onside kick two weeks ago against Washington State, Mackovic said the Cougars had nothing to do with the Wildcats' onside attempt on Saturday.

The Cougars surprised the Wildcats with an onside kick in the first quarter of that game during their 48-21 victory.

After Arizona tied the game against Oregon early in the second quarter last Saturday, freshman kicker Ryan Slack tried an onside kick, but the ball didn't travel the necessary 10 yards, so the Ducks gained possession on the Arizona's 44-yard line.

"We saw that, and we thought we had a good chance for it," Mackovic said. "We've hit it better than that in practice. One of these days, all these things are going to work."

Although Arizona has lost its last seven Pacific 10 Conference games, Mackovic said Sunday that it is realistic for the team to make its first bowl appearance since 1998.

"I think it's a real strong possibility for us," Mackovic said. "We have to win at least three of our next six games and I believe we will match up with other teams better."

The Wildcats six remaining games this season are against Oregon State (Oct. 13), No. 10 Washington (Oct. 20), Southern California (Oct. 27), California (Nov. 3), No. 23 Stanford (Nov. 10) and Arizona State (Nov. 23).

"It will be interesting to see what happens in the next four to five weeks," Mackovic said.


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