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Tuesday October 10, 2000

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Jolivette named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week

Headline Photo

By Ryan Finley

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Freshman had two interceptions in win against Trojans

For the second straight week, an Arizona defensive player has won the Pacific 10 Conference's Defensive Player of the Week award.

Freshman cornerback Michael Jolivette - who had six tackles and two interceptions in the Wildcats' 31-15 victory against Southern California this past weekend - has become the third Wildcat to garner such an award this season.

"I thought he had a solid game against USC," UA defensive backs coach Duane Akina said. "The two big plays were huge for us."

Following the Wildcats' first game, a 17-3 victory against Utah in Salt Lake City on Sept. 2, senior defensive lineman Joe Tafoya was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Week for his exploits against the Utes.

Last week, senior defensive end Idris Haroon gained the honor after returning a fumble 68 yards for a touchdown in the Wildcats' 27-3 victory against Stanford.

According to Akina, the success of the defensive line goes hand-in-hand with the success of the defensive backfield.

"The end result is that (Haroon and Tafoya) put more pressure on the quarterback." Akina said. "If we have success in the back end, it's the result of pressure on the quarterback. The quarterback will also hang onto the ball a bit longer (because of the secondary)."

Jolivette is part of a defense that ranks second nationally in rushing defense and is earning respect throughout the country. Even UA head coach Dick Tomey recognizes the secondary's contribution to Arizona's 4-1 start.

"The secondary to me has just grown by leaps and bounds," he said. "I thought the guys really played hard and played with their hearts."

As a senior at North Shore High School in Houston, Jolivette was named a Prep-Star All American.

The freshman, who initially reminded UA coaches of ex-Wildcat strong safety Brandon Sanders, currently leads the Pac-10 Conference in interceptions with four.

The difference between this year's defensive secondary and 1999's is visible in the attitude shown by the Wildcat defensive backfield.

"It's a hungry group," Akina said. "We're healthier than we were a year ago. There are some things that we've changed up. It's their first times playing."