Half of secondary may miss Cal game

By Craig Degel

Arizona Daily Wildcat

As if losing in front of its home crowd wasn't enough for the Arizona football team to think about, it can now ponder how the secondary will perform without two of its four starters. Freshman Mikal Smith will be out with a broken left foot and Rashee Johnson was questionable for Saturday's home game against Cal after suffering a concussion last week in the loss to Southern Cal.

"I think we'll be OK injury-wise," Arizona head coach Dick Tomey said. "I don't think that'll be a factor."

Brandon Sanders was listed as doubtful with a sprained right shoulder, but is expected to be probable for this weekend.

For most of the night during their loss to USC, the Wildcats were searching for a way to shift the momentum or create some enthusiasm. They couldn't. The inability to create turnovers continued to plague Arizona (2-2 overall, 0-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference), which has just four takeaways this season. But what may be hurting the team the most are the aftereffects or lack thereof of causing a turnover.

After a fumble or an interception, offenses tend to come out with enthusiasm to face a demoralized defense. During its10-2 season in 1993, UA forced 39 such opponent miscues.

"We couldn't get any turnovers," Tomey said. "I can't begin to tell you why that is. If we knew, we'd do something about it, pronto."

The St. Louis Rams, Tomey said, are a good example of what happens when a team creates turnovers. They have a mediocre offense but have yet to turn the ball over, while their defense has forced 14 takeaways. They're also 4-0.

Armon Williams, a member of UA's special teams, is gaining more recognition with each passing game. Williams almost blocked one punt against USC, and made several key tackles for the unit.

"Armon Williams is on my all-opponent team," Cal head coach Keith Gilbertson said.

The Wildcats are 2-2 for the first time since '91, when they were decimated by injuries. But surprisingly, the team's defensive numbers are holding up well on a national scale.

The team is eighth in the nation in total defense (252.3 yards per game) and second in the Pac-10-. UA is also second in the Pac-10 in scoring defense at 12.5 points per game.

"The team wants a chance to re-establish that we are a good team," Tomey said.

Cal will be UA's last chance to do so before they have a week off to prepare for UCLA.

The offensive line, which has been tested by teams with a tough outside rush in Illinois and USC, will face a Cal team which features strong interior linemen.

"We've done what we can and Coach (Charlie) Dickey makes us work hard," guard Tevete Usu said. "SC was probably the toughest line that we've faced. Cal's pretty strong, but SC's interior didn't do that much."

UA defensive end Tedy Bruschi is slowly making his way to the top of the NCAA career sacks list. He is the Pac-10 leader with 43.5 career sacks, eight-best in NCAA history and half a sack behind Kiki DeAyala (Texas 1980-82). The Kansas City Chiefs' Derrick Thomas (Alabama 1985-88) is the leader with 52.

Bruschi's one sack against the Trojans also moved him ahead of William Perry (Clemson 1981-84) on the career tackles-for-loss list. Bruschi has 60.5 such tackles 13.5 shy of Mitch Donahue's (Wyoming 1987-90) record.

Read Next Article