Grid Notes August 30th

<B>IT'S GAME WEEK!</B> Mike Stoops and the players held their first weekly press gathering of the year to discuss NAU and the season opener. Here are some of the news and notes from today's press conference.

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The Wildcats are actually in very good shape with injuries. John Abramo and Biren Ealy are out and Randy Sims is doubtful with a toe infection. Darrell Brooks is questionable, but is expected to practice today and has a shot to see the field on Saturday.

Stoops was very pleased that there really weren't any serious injuries this fall and attributed it to the strength and conditioning program.

"There's a direct correlation to our conditioning in the summer and winter."

Stoops said that Ealy should be back for Wisconsin, while Abramo is still conditioning but the prognosis looks good.


All of the Wildcats' top four corner backs will be making their D-I debut. Both of the Stoops brothers have faced this type of situation before. Mike when he was at Kansas State and Mark at Miami.

The elder Stoops said the players lack experience, but not talent. All of the players have gotten it done in practice and have a lot of ability.

"It's exciting," Stoops said. "It's a great challenge."


Sean Jones and Kirk Johnson are still battling it out for the starting nod at linebacker. Stoops expected to name a starter on Tuesday, but commented that both players will see plenty of playing time. Pat Howard gets the nod at middle linebacker due to the injury to Sims, while Dan Krogstad is expected to start at the other outside backer spot.


With the loss of Brandon Phillips for three games the offensive line has had to shuffle a little bit. Chris Johnson has gotten work at both guard and tackle, but should get the call at guard. Tanner Bell and Peter Graniello will start at tackle and both seem to be auditioning for a starting job when Phillips comes back. Stoops indicated that Keoki Fraser might play most of the game at center. His back up is walk-on Garen McHone. Stoops said that they will try to use just one guard and one tackle as back ups and that they'd try to preserve freshmen's redshirts if possible.


Stoops indicated that the team was close to implementing every thing they need to start season. The defense has more installed but Stoops says that is by design.

"As an offense you build and tweak," Stoops said. "They put more stuff in everyday."

As far as the offense holding stuff back against NAU, several players did not think that would be the case. Keoki Fraser said that the philosophy was to take each contest as a one-game season and that he did not believe the offense would be dumbed-down or made "vanilla" to keep things off the films for Utah.


The Cats are 15-10-2 in debuts of new coaches. Of the Wildcats last five head coaches, only John Mackovic won his first game. The Wildcats have won their last four season openers, including a win over NAU in 2002. The Cats are also 15-1 in their last 16 home openers. The lone loss was the 27-17 defeat to Ohio State in 2000.

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