[Wildcat Online: Sports] [ad info]





Wildcat special teams earns redemption at UCLA

By Chris Jackson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 1, 1999
Talk about this story

PASADENA, Calif. - No one will argue that Arizona's kicking game has had its difficulties this season.

But after Saturday's win at UCLA, there may be a ray of hope. His name is Sean Keel, a freshman walk-on who has stabilized a struggling kicking game after a 2-for-2 night in field goals against the Bruins.

"I thought if I came in and did well it would really help the team," Keel said after the game in a crowded Arizona locker room.

Keel's words in the locker room were all but drowned out by his teammates' cheers as they praised his performance. It was a scene similar to that which Keel said he experienced after kicking his first field goal successfully from 31 yards in the first quarter.

"It's so great, I came off and everyone was there," he said. "It was the greatest feeling. After that first kick everyone was great. I didn't feel nervous after that."

Keel hit a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter and was also 3-for-3 in extra points.

"He did a nice job; we expected him to do a nice job," UA head coach Dick Tomey said. "He's done a nice job in practice. We'll see."

As for the rest of the special teams, the players managed to hold their UCLA counterparts in check. The Bruins had only 104 total return yards, with only three yards on punt returns, and their average starting position was their own 27-yard line.

Compare that to last week, when Oregon had 288 total return yards and an average starting position on its own 43-yard line.

"It was the emphasis all week," sophomore Peter Hansen said. "We just played with heart, passion, just the whole time."

Hansen also did his part on special teams as a 6' 7''kick-blocking specialist. He blocked a 25-yard field goal attempt on the first series of the game.

"It was just the guys in front just knocked their O-linemen back," Hansen said, refusing to take all the credit. "So I had plenty of room to jump and it just ran into my hands."

UA senior kicker Mark McDonald, who was 1-for-10 in field goals coming into the game, was relegated to kickoff duty against UCLA, but he did a solid job after a couple of wobbly kicks early in the first half.

But it was Keel who was earning all the postgame attention.

"He did a great job, 100-percent," Hansen said with a smile.

[end content]
[ad info]