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Front row center: Entering the stat spin zone

Shane Dale
assistant sports editor
By Shane Dale
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Think the Arizona football team was thoroughly embarrassed on Saturday against Louisiana State in front of 40,000-plus Wildcat fans?

Think a 46-point defeat is reason to think this team is as bad as the so-called experts have said they would be?

Ha! Think again.

The 59-13 score doesn't look very impressive for our 'Cats but only if you don't look at the box score.

The Tigers don't want you to look at it, or worse, interpret it. It works against them and their superiority complex. They know it and they don't want you to know it.

Tough. The truth is found when one reads between the stat lines. The truth is revealed right here.

Keep in mind that when viewing these numbers, it's important to forget a lot of things. Like how LSU played its second-string offense for nearly the entire second half. Or that the score was already 38-0 at halftime. Such facts get in the way of the positives for UA football, and should simply be brushed aside. Consider the following:

· Running back Clarence Farmer, who was questionable for Saturday's game, gained a combined 84 rushing and receiving yards on just 10 touches.

· Farmer gained 7.6 yards a rush, while LSU's counterpart, Joseph Addai, picked up a considerably less 4.8.

· Forget quarterbacks Nic Costa and Ryan O'Hara's "rushing" stats. Farmer and fellow UA running back Mike Bell ran for a combined 102 yards on 21 carries nearly five yards a run.

· Even after factoring in Costa and O'Hara's minus-11 rushing yards (the result of sacks), Arizona averaged slightly more yards per carry than the Tigers: 3.4 to 3.3.

· LSU committed four turnovers including three fumbles to Arizona's three. And the Wildcats, unlike the Tigers, scored a defensive touchdown.

· The Wildcats sacked LSU's quarterbacks three times. Arizona's QBs were only sacked twice.

· The Tigers outscored the Wildcats by just one point in the fourth quarter (only because of a botched UA extra-point attempt) and beat Arizona just 21-13 in the second half.

· Despite giving up 59 points, Arizona didn't allow a 100-yard rusher, nor a 200-yard passer, and only allowed one 100-yard receiver in LSU's Michael Clayton and he only had 109. Honestly, that's barely over 100 as it is.

· Sure, Arizona lost by 46. But what LSU doesn't want you to remember is the time of possession. The Tigers had the ball for more than 36 minutes the Wildcats, less than 24. All things being fair and equal, each team would have the ball for an even 30 minutes. If you adjust the score by points per minute and multiply by 30, the final score would rightfully be LSU 49, UA 16 a 13-point turnaround. Come on, Tiger fans, that barely covers the spread. Bragging rights, my ass.

· And isn't it convenient that LSU fans omit the important stat of kickoff-return yardage, in which Arizona outgained the Tigers by nearly a two-to-one margin?

There's even more good news for Arizona. The Oregon Ducks bring their puke-green pride to Arizona Stadium on Saturday. Oregon barely got past Nevada yeah, Nevada, 31-23 this past weekend and in Eugene, no less. Hell, Nevada outscored Oregon 16-7 in the second half. If Arizona can put up 13 in one quarter against a top-15 team, imagine what it can do against an unranked one.

You could say John Mackovic has the Ducks right where he wants them. They'll be quacking their way into Tucson with their heads held high following an eight-point "rout" of a bad team at home. And they'll be expecting the Wildcats to be pushovers after what LSU did three days ago.

It's all part of Arizona's plan. On Saturday, they were better than the score indicated. And this weekend, they should pounce on Oregon as a real wildcat would pounce on a duck.

It's gotta be true. The stats don't lie.

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