Arizona Preview

Arizona State (8-2, 5-2 in Pac-10) closes out the regular season slate against archrival Arizona (2-8, 1-6 in Pac-10) in Tucson this Friday. Dirk Koetter is 2-1 against the Wildcats as Head Coach of the Sun Devils, winning the last two contests. Mike Stoops will be introduced to the rivalry in his first season as Head Coach of the Wildcats. This "Duel In The Desert" annual slugfest needs no introduction to the Sun Devil and Wildcat faithful as there is no love lost between both institutions.

Stoops was brought to Tucson to revitalize a broken program and his first order of business was on the defensive side of the ball. The Cats have seen improvement on defense this year and look to capitalize on the turnaround next year with the experience returning. Up front, Arizona hasn't had enough horses to get it done. DE Andre Torrey is finishing out his college career on a high note with 38 tackles and 4 sacks. Torrey is the Cats' best bet to bother Devil QB Andrew Walter. DT Carlos Williams will also be playing in his last game, coming in with 33 tackles on the year. DE Marcus Smith has 40 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

At Linebacker, a pair of seniors have directed the group with a combined 103 tackles this season. Pat Howard and Kirk Johnson will say their farewells Friday after handing the reigns over to Dane Krogstad and Sean Jones. Krogstad has 42 tackles to go along with the 35 Jones has contributed.

The future looks the brightest for the Wildcat Secondary. Antoine Cason, a true freshman, has turned heads this season with a very solid season. Cason's team leading 4 interceptions and 58 tackles have been a big key for the defensive turnaround. With Wilrey Fontenot at the other corner, the Cats will have some very solid pass coverage in the years to come. Safeties Lamon Means and Darrell Brooks have been just as active as the underclassmen. Means is the team leader in tackles with 63 and Brooks is just one shy of that mark. Both are adept in their Safety blitzes.

On the other side of the ball, the Cats have had some struggles finding some offensive consistency all season long. They average just 13 points per game. Valley product, Mike Bell, is the team leading rusher with 802 yards this season. Bell has 5 TDs and averages about 80 yards per game. Chris Henry is another option for the Cats and has two TDs.

Quarterback Kris Heavner was benched in favor of Richard Kovalcheck earlier in the year in hopes of a revitalized passing attack. Kovalcheck has 3 TDs and 6 INTs and is averaging 114 yards in the air. Heavner (83 of 142, 827 yards) is still an option for Arizona if he's needed. Both quarterbacks haven't seen a lot of assistance from the receivers this season. Syndric Steptoe is the leader of the receiving corps with 24 catches and 3 TDs. TE Steve Fleming averages 26 yards per game. Ricky Williams and Mike Jefferson round out Kovalcheck's targets in the air.

WR Ryan Edison returns punts for Arizona and averages 9.6 yards on returns. His longest of the year was for 35 yards. Syndric Steptoe and Wilrey Fontenot also return punts. Steptoe's number has been called more on kickoff returns this season. He has 384 yards on 17 returns and has broken one for 44 yards. BJ Dennard is Arizona's other alternative returning kicks.

Nick Folk is a decent short/medium range kicker. He is 6 of 10 in Field Goal attempts this season. Folk is 2 of 5 in attempts of 40 yards or more. Danny Baugher has gotten a workout this fall with the inefficiency of the offense. The Arizona Punter averages a little over 40 yards per punt and his longest of the year was for 60 yards. Of Baugher's 68 punts, 14 were pinned inside the 20-yard line.

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