RB Michael Bell

2003 Statistics

Coach: Mike Stoops
1st year
2003 Record: 2-10
at Purdue LOST 7-59
TCU LOST 10-13 (OT)
at Washington State LOST 7-30
at California LOST 14-42
at Oregon State LOST 23-52
at Arizona State LOST 7-28

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

For the past four years, there's been no heart, no fire, no fraternal aura at Arizona. John Mackovic didn't win (enough of) his players hearts. Wrong doings drew condemnation instead of counseling, and praise was scattered. They had the talent to compete, but they didn't have the belief. X's and O's mean absolutely nothing if your players don't believe in you. The Wildcats are quickly getting that back.

"You don't need talent to work hard". That's the motto that Mike Stoops runs by, and nowhere does that motto need to be installed more than in Tucson. Ever since his arrival, this group has been working…HARD! Everything is getting fast paced and desire-driven. All others have packed up and gone home.

He even inherits a decent team. They're just inexperienced, and therefore lacking confidence and development in several facets of the game. With proper teaching and molding, this team has the capability of winning more than losing. We've seen what Stoops has been able to do with individual units, but now the test comes in manning an entire team. We predict the coaching will be noticeable, but may not solve all their ills. A coach is only as good as the guys under him - Stoops put together one of the top staffs in the Pac 10, in terms of knowledge of the game.

With that said, the right mindset is falling into place a lot quicker than expected. Ask anyone in the know, and they'll tell you that Mike Stoops has done something already. He's started to pull these guys out from the nosedive they were in and helped them get their bearings. He's gotten them to start acting like the "tough guy" Arizona used to be - respected around the country and feared by the entire Pac 10. Trust us, by the time they kick-off against Northern Arizona, you'll see a vastly different Wildcat team, in all phases of the game. Bear down, Arizona…the tunnel light is growing quickly.

Projected 2004 record: 4-7
DE Marcus Smith
QB - 2.5 DL - 2.5
RB - 3 LB - 2
WR - 3 DB - 2
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Kris Heavner, 237-121-15, 1501 yds., 8 TD

Rushing: Michael Bell, 168 att., 920 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Biren Ealy, 42 rec., 577 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Michael Bell, 6 TD, 36 pts.

Punting: Danny Baugher, 76 punts, 42.6 avg.

Kicking: Nicholas Folk, 0-3 FG, 8-8 PAT, 8 pts.

Tackles: Darrell Brooks, 79 tot., 55 solo

Sacks: Marcus Smith, Andre Torrey - 4 each

Interceptions: Lamon Means, Darrell Brooks, Tony Wingate, Patrick Howard - 1 each

Kickoff returns: Syndrio Steptoe, 28 ret., 17.1 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Syndrio Steptoe, 15 ret., 4.6 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Reggie Sampay-OG, Clarence Farmer-HB, Bobby Gill-K
DEFENSE: Michael Jolivette-CB, Gary Love-CB, Joe Siofele-MLB, Clay Hardt-LB, Carl Tuitavuki-DT, Matt Molina-DE

After being pushed into the lineup by the fourth game, Kris Heavner ended up finishing as the starter with the best marks, ever, for a 'Zona freshman. The stats are a bit deceiving. The most glaring stat was his TD/INT ratio of 8/15! Partial blame went to the maturation process, but more of it was on a coaching staff that forced him into doing too much too soon. The good news is the fiery baptism is over. The better news is that innovative offensive coordinator/QB coach Mike Canales becomes his new mentor. Canales is a Norm Chow protégé (also worked with NCSU star QB Phillip Rivers). He brings a spread offense, which will give Heavner more options, while minimizing risk. This will build his confidence and ultimately boost his performance. In time, Heavner will be a Pac 10 cover boy… just not this season. Things will improve here, and therefore for the whole team will once Heavner leads, not just plays.

Running Back
The Wildcats owned the conference's fifth-best rush offense, but only averaged 123 yards per game 87th nationally. (This says much about Arizona, but more about the Pac 10 rushing attacks. California led the conference at 168 on the ground per game, but were 44th nationally.) And even though the 'Cats will throw the ball more, to be successful here, they'll at least maintain (and hopefully better) those run-game numbers. Mike Bell is the Pac 10's top returning rusher. Averaging 5.5 yards a clip, he gives the offense a solid burst with size and speed that few teams will contain. With the intricacies of the "new" spread offense, he'll see an increased role (at season's start) to help take the pressure off the pivotal passing game. In addition to being a strong runner, he will also pose a threat as a pass-catcher. Gilbert Harris and RSF Chris Henry have the talent to be key contributors, but need to improve upon their sub-three YPC numbers. New head coach Mike Stoops likes how they look, though.

Arizona did not develop a real "big-play" guy on the outside, but that will change. Stoops says Biren Ealy has really impressed him since he arrived. With the new-and-improved offensive system put into place, his production is sure to increase from 52 YPG. Ricky Williams will work on stretching the field. While he averages a respectable 15 yards per reception at U of A, this guy actually tallied an amazing 42 YPR in his final three years of high school! The talent has always been there, but now he's in a system where here can really reach his full potential. He is big enough to have commanding numbers, so keep an eye on Williams, seriously. Mike Jefferson and a raw cast of reserves will vie for the third-receiver slot. Dropped passes were a problem in the spring. Confidence here has to develop, or Heavner will surely play at a lower level, too.

Tight End and Offensive Line
Ex-QB Steve Fleming has a blessed blend of great vision and sweet hands. His former position helps him to know where and when to get open on pass routes. That knowledge will help in the new offense if Stoops chooses to keep throwing to him.

Usually, poor offensive numbers direct pointing fingers to the offensive line. That wasn't necessarily true for these guys. U of A got better-than-expected play from the men up front. However, there was still a good amount of learning and gelling going on. Three regulars come back, as well as former starter Brandon Phillips, who was granted a medical hardship by the NCAA. Keoki Fraser enters his final year of eligibility as a top candidate for the Rimington Award (for the nation's top center). "Oki" (as he is called) has a string of 29 consecutive starts and leads a group that allowed just 19 sacks, good for second-best in the Pac 10. If you're looking at the strength of this offense, look no further than the five guys in trenches. This bodes well for the QB's and WR's developmental needs.

Everyone wants to focus on the defense, given the tutelage. That being the case, it is imperative that the offense jump out and surprise people. New offensive coordinator Mike Canales comes over from the New York Jets, where he coached receivers. Running a more spread offense will help this horrendous passing game, which dragged to worst in the Pac 10 (90th nationally). It will also give the 'Cats more than their Pac 10-low 27 scoring chances they had all of last year. To have it all work well, it's going to take speed- more speed than they have. At the same time, they'll need to hold onto the ball longer. U of A gave up almost five minutes in time of possession to their opponents. When the defense is tired and the offense can't score, things could still get ugly. This crew has been worked extremely hard this off-season to help condition them for this fast-paced scheme. Wins will ironically start with the linemen and RBs. Soon enough, this offense will catch up to the aerial assaults that presently dominate the Pac 10. The formula here looks promising for success, but we have a bad feeling for 2004.


C Keoki Fraser


Returning Starters in bold
QB Kris Heavner-So (6-2, 230) Ryan O'Hara-So (6-6, 200)
Nic Costa-Jr (5-11, 210)
FB Pedro Limon-Jr (6-0, 244) Ryan Shirley-So (5-11, 240)
RB Mike Bell-Jr (6-1, 218) Gilbert Harris-Jr (6-2, 223)
Chris Henry-Fr (6-0, 220)
WR Ricky Williams-Sr (6-2, 211) Syndrio Steptoe-So (5-9, 185)
WR Biren Ealy-Jr (6-3, 194) Juan Valentine-Sr (6-1, 190)
WR Mike Jefferson-So (6-2, 203) Anthony Johnson-Fr (6-2, 200)
TE Steve Fleming-Sr (6-6, 256) Clarence McRae-Sr (6-2, 242)
OT Chris Johnson-Sr (6-3, 310) Tanner Bell-Jr (6-8, 308)
OG John Abramo-Jr (6-4, 294) Ismal Garcia-Fr (6-5, 310)
C Keoki Fraser-Sr (6-3, 295) Erick Levitre-So (6-1, 270)
OG Kili Lefotu-Jr (6-5, 320) Phillip Brown-Fr (6-3, 305)
OT Peter Graniello-Fr (6-7, 293) Brandon Phillips-Sr (6-8, 310)
K Nicholas Folk-So (6-2, 206) Adam Goldstein-Fr (5-5, 150)



Defensive Line
Problems with the defense began along the line of scrimmage. The front four, who had the ferocity of a dried earthworm, was constantly getting thrown backward, yielding some hefty gains. Marcus Smith is a potential all-conference player but has yet to take his game to the next level. He's a strong pass-rusher, but tends to get caught out of position as he misses the play's development, like many anxious ends, while bull rushing. Carlos Williams and JUCO-transfer Brad Brittain now team in the middle. There's an abundance of players to throw into a healthy rotation. One guy to keep an eye on is Jonathan Turner, who originally enrolled at USC. He looks to be a contributor (as long as he can, literally, make the grades). The athletes here will fit nicely into Stoops' zone blitz scheme, which regularly drops linemen into zone coverage, allowing LBs and DBs to stunt without opposing linemen able to anticipate how/where pressure will originate. Stay home, Marcus.

Great linebacker play has always been a Stoop's trademark. His LBs can all run well and cover with the same grade. This trio look betters on the field than on paper. RSF Dane Krogstad will be the next household name in Arizona defensive lore. He came into U of A as one of the top prep athletes in the country and has used a year of toughening up to help prepare him. The strong off-season, coupled with stellar coaching, will help springboard him to conference honors. Teaming the outside are Kirk Johnson and Patrick Howard, who provide key leadership- the sturdy wings that will help lift Krogstad. Perhaps the most overlooked coach on this new staff is LB mentor Tim Kish. Kish was a part of that magnificent rebuilding job at Northwestern in 1995. He took a national obscurity like Pat Fitzgerald and turned him into the national defensive player of the year. Just something to keep in mind.

Defensive Back
Pass defense was non-existent in the desert last year. In fact, only five teams (out of 117 in the country) did worse than the Wildcats! They lose three players from that group, but we're sure this is a good reality. We know bringing Mark Stoops in to take over the back four is an asset - a VERY big asset. For Miami's 2001 National Championship season, the Hurricanes had to replace all four starters in Stoops' secondary at the beginning of the season. All they ended up doing was finishing tops in the country against the pass. Don't expect any of the same here (just yet), but we'll bet the farm on them moving up from their lowly national ranking! Junior Darrell Brooks is poised for a breakout season. He's that smart player every coach wants - he leads by example. His part will be heightened, given this scheme, and numbers will demonstrate that. Tony Wingate has gotten a look at SS, but with holes at CB, we feel he'll end up there. He was one of the better players this spring, and Stoops likes those aggressive types manning up opposing receivers. Recruiting the past couple years has landed some quality DBs, especially from the JUCO ranks. Not only will this group improve, they'll threaten as well.

What can we tell you- it's going to get better. Easy to say for the 109th ranked defense in the country, we know, but we're talking top third! This will be a test to show just how well the Stoops brothers can coach a defense. Both Mike and Mark have always been extremely hands-on in their approach and their players really like/respect that. They'll play a zone-blitzing, 4-3 scheme up front. They'll lay back in cover-two, keeping everything in front of them, allowing the corners to man-up the outside receivers. This puts pressure on the QB to beat them over the top while trying to deal with the confusing stunts coming at him from all angles. There has been a great emphasis on getting quicker, stronger, faster, and smarter on defense. So far, it's been working. Most coaches take pride in their jobs. The Stoops boys take stake in theirs. That's why this group will, as we said, be much better. Play as a unit and they will fulfill our expectations.


SS Lamon Means


Returning Starters in bold
DE Marcus Smith-Jr (6-5, 249) Jason Parker-Fr (6-3, 255)
Lionel Dotson-Fr (6-4, 252)
NT Carlos Williams-Sr (6-4, 306) Brad Brittain-Jr (6-5, 292)
DT Paul Philipp-So (6-3, 278) Clifton Stanford-So (6-4, 302)
DE Copeland Bryan-Jr (6-4, 235) Andre Torrey-Sr (6-4, 245)
SLB Patrick Howard-Sr (5-11, 241) Randy Sims-Jr (5-11, 225)
MLB Dane Krogstad-Fr (6-1, 226) John McKinney-So (6-0, 232)
WLB Kirk Johnson-Sr (6-1, 228) Sean Jones-Jr (5-11, 230)
Akin Akiniyi-So (6-0, 230)
CB Wilrey Fontenot-Fr (5-9, 170) Zeonte Sherman-Sr (5-11, 196)
CB Tony Wingate-Sr (6-1, 204) Kiel McDonald-Fr (5-10, 181)
Luis Nunez-Sr (6-0, 188)
SS Lamon Means-Jr (6-3, 210) Gary Shepard-So (5-10, 202)
FS Darrell Brooks-Jr (6-1, 210) Marcus Hollingsworth-So (5-10, 208)
P Danny Baugher-Jr (5-10, 195) Chad Werley-Jr (5-11, 170)




The Wildcats attempted only eleven FGs, but made just two of them. And the one kicker who comes back was 0-for-3. Not to despair, though. Nick Folk had a marveled prep career and has really improved this spring. With a likely inefficient red-zone offense, though, he'll have to deliver.

Danny Baugher was a busy man, punting 76 times. The practice helped him to average 42 yards per kick while pinning 14 inside the twenty and forcing 12 fair catches. He's a steady weapon in the field position game, which will surely reflect by the enhanced defensive depth.

Return Game
Syndric Steptoe earned double-duty returning kicks and punts as a freshman, but was ultimately ineffective. Not all of it was his fault though. Special Teams coaching guru, Joe Robinson, brings pride and enthusiasm, so all areas will get significantly better. Improvement seems the only conclusion.