Spring Glances Part III – The Arizona Schools

We conclude our Spring Glances article series with a look at the Arizona Schools.

Arizona Wildcats

2004 Record: 3-9

The Wildcats have continued to recruit well this off-season, pulling in a class ranked among the top half of the conference. Head Coach Mike Stoops replaced the departed Steve Spurrier, Jr. with former Oklahoma great, Josh Heupel, to coach the Tight Ends.


Key Losses: TE Steve Fleming, OT Brandon Phillips, and C Keoki Fraser, WR Ricky Williams
Key Returners: RB Mike Bell, QB Richard Kovalcheck, TB Chris Henry, WR Syndric Steptoe, WR Mike Jefferson, OG Kili Lefotu, OG Tanner Bell

Storyline(s) of Interest: Quarterback and Wide Receiver. The Cats will be looking for more consistency on the offensive side of the ball and it all starts up front at QB. Kovalcheck will be looking to build upon a young 2004 campaign. He showed some signs (Oregon and ASU game) but has lots of room for improvement. Kovalcheck would benefit from an improved receiving corps. Somebody has to step up on a consistent basis though. Syndric Steptoe is a great athlete and looks to be the leading candidate at this point.

DEFENSE Key Losses: DE Andre Torrey, LB Kirk Johnson, LB Pat Howard, DT Carlos Williams Key Returners: DB Antoine Cason, DB Wilfrey Fontenot, DE Marcus Smith, LB Dane Krogstad, S Lamon Means, S Darrell Brooks
Storyline(s) of Interest: Defensive Line and Linebacker. The future of the secondary appears to be bright with a couple of the young guys like Antoine Cason so in order for the Wildcats to make the jump to the upper half of the Pac-10, the trenches need more production. At Linebacker, UA loses two seniors. However, the younger talent on board appears to have a higher ceiling. Raw talent is there but they will be short on experience.

Arizona State Sun Devils

2004 Record: 9-3, Sun Bowl win over Purdue

Defensive Coordinator Brent Guy moved on to Utah State and Bill Miller, Florida LB coach, was brought in to lead the Defense. During Sun Bowl preparations in December, RB Hakim Hill was dismissed from the team. Head Coach Dirk Koetter received some great news with a sixth year granted for both S Manny Franklin and CB RJ Oliver.


Key Losses: QB Andrew Walter, C Drew Hodgdon
Key Returners: WR Derek Hagan, WR Terry Richardson, ATH Rudy Burgess, OT Grayling Love, TE Zach Miller, OT Andrew Carnahan, OG Zach Krula, OG Stephen Berg

Storyline(s) of Interest: Quarterback and Running Back. Sam Keller gave a Sun Bowl performance that has most Devil fans anxiously awaiting the 2005 season. However, Keller's arm will likely be tested more this season as it remains to be seen how this offense produces if the ground game isn't as successful. The run game should be helped by quite a bit of experience coming back on the Offensive Line. The Devils' offense is still in need of a consistent ground game in order to take it to the next level. If Loren Wade remains eligible after a suspension last September, then that is a big plus for ASU as they will be without Randy Hill early in the year (ACL injury recovery) and no Hakim Hill.


Key Losses: DT Jimmy Verdon, DE Ishmael Thrower, LB Justin Burks, S Riccardo Stewart, DT Gabe Reininger
Key Returners: DT Jordan Hill, DE Kyle Caldwell, CB R.J. Oliver, S Emmanuel Franklin, LB Dale Robinson, LB Jamar Williams, CB Josh Golden

Storyline(s) of Interest: Defensive End and Corner. Kyle Caldwell has emerged as one of the conference's top young rush ends. However, Caldwell loses a steady performer opposite him in Ishmael Thrower in 2005. The DL would best be suited by finding another pass rusher in order to avoid too many double teams on Caldwell. DT Jordan Hill has emerged as a growing pass threat in the middle but will that be enough? RJ Oliver will be back this year after sitting out all of last year but the question mark is his health in the fall. ASU will be short on CBs this spring as Josh Golden and Chad Green will be out as well.

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