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Briggs the last line of defense

Photo
Connor Doyle
By Connor Doyle
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 30, 2002

More than likely, there won't be much to enjoy about the remainder of the football season. Usually, games against UCLA and ASU on home turf would be enough to keep fans interested, but it's unlikely that many students will skip a Thanksgiving holiday to watch a team that had had more injuries than rushing yards last Saturday.

No, the much stronger likelihood is that the crowds will continue to dwindle, and Arizona will finish near the bottom of the Pacific 10 Confernce.

But there is still one reason to watch this team, even if it means waiting until Sunday replays because the Nazis that wrote up the conference's television contract decided a couple of extra (million) bucks were worth screwing fans of teams that don't merit national broadcast.

That reason is one Lance Briggs, Arizona's middle

linebacker and the reason the Wildcats' defense still has some teeth.

If for some reason you don't get to see him this season, fear not. You'll be able to watch him next year on Sundays (and the games will even be shown live).

But there's good enough reason to watch him this season.

While quarterback Jason Johnson and wide receiver Bobby Wade get most of what little positive press there has been this season, it's Briggs who's the heart and soul of the Wildcats.

Saturday's game against Washington State was perhaps Briggs' finest at UA.

He had 14 tackles 10 without help and he single-handedly made the Arizona defense something to be reckoned with. But don't take my word for it.

"That was the best I have seen him play in my two years at Arizona," said head coach John Mackovic about his performance against WSU. "He virtually took the defense right over with him to make the kinds of plays that he did all night. His enthusiasm, the way he played, the tackles, getting people moved around; that's the kind of all-star play the he has in him."

No slight to any of the other players on the team, but Briggs is Arizona's MVP, especially since injuries have claimed the other two leaders on the defense, safety Jarvie Worcester and cornerback Michael Jolivette.

Where the naturally gifted often become lackadaisical, it's Briggs' almost maniacal drive that separates him from the pack. He could be 5-foot-4 and 130 pounds, and this guy would probably still be the best linebacker on the team. That he's 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds means he's the best middle linebacker in the conference.

If there's one regrettable thing about Briggs, it's that he won't be able to enjoy his virtuoso performance this season as much as Arizona fans will, because he could care less if he has five tackles or 50.

"It really doesn't matter if you don't come out with the win. Your personal performance is overshadowed by a loss," Briggs said. "More than anything else, that's what I think about."

So, if Briggs is unable to appreciate what he's doing, it's even more imperative that others do. And judging by the looks of the student section, it's apparent that there aren't many who are.

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