MOREDICH COLUMNby John Moredich on Sep. 01, 2003, under Sports
John Moredich COLUMN
QBs avoid the sack, hope trend continues
University of Arizona quarterbacks were punished last year, being sacked 52 times.
Wildcat quarterbacks walked off the field after a 42-7 victory over Texas-El Paso with no bumps and bruises, few grass stains and a more-secure feeling in the pocket after no sacks.
“It showed we were prepared,” quarterback Nic Costa said. “We knew what they were going to do. It made my job easier. I could just stand back there and play football.
“I knew I would be protected. I knew our guys would pick up the blitz. Usually this early in the season teams don’t pick up the blitz. We were able to do that and get the ball off and make some plays.”
Five hours of extra blitz work this fall worked out as UTEP seldom even hurried the quarterbacks, and if the Miners did, both Costa and Ryan O’Hara had the mobility to escape from the pocket.
“We did an excellent job of blocking in the pocket,” UA coach John Mackovic said. “The quarterbacks also did a good job of using their feet to get out of there.”
Farmer OK, others waiting
Arizona senior tailback Clarence Farmer is having is right shoulder X-rayed after leaving the game in the third quarter.
“I’m fine,” Farmer said after rushing for 20 yards on eight carries and scoring on an 8-yard run in his return from a left knee injury last year.
“It felt good getting in the end zone, but that made me more hungry,” Farmer added. “When I went in there I wanted to get back again.”
Freshman tailback Chris Henry limped off with a left ankle sprain, while cornerback Gary Love injured his right ankle. No update was available yesterday.
Arizona sophomore tailback Mike Bell’s fumble inside the Miners’ 5-yard line was called back after an offside penalty on UTEP. The Wildcats scored the next play when Costa ran untouched into the end zone for a 14-0 commanding lead.
Hit of the game
UA junior linebacker Andre Torrey leveled UTEP punt returner Jahmal Fenner, leaving him flat on the ground after pummeling him in the chest.
That was good, but the bigger hit came earlier when Fenner was lit up by cornerback Gary Love, causing a fumble Arizona recovered and eventually took in for a 21-0 lead.
Play of the game
The Wildcats put the game away with a 79-yard touchdown strike from O’Hara to Lance Relford with 9:37 remaining in the first half.
“It was not designed to go to Lance Relford,” O’Hara said. “The pocket collapsed around me, I stepped up and eluded a man and looked down the field to see whoever was open. He just happened to be in my line of sight. He was streaking down the middle, he had the man deep and that was it.”
Relford separated himself at the last second from UTEP safety Tim Woodard for the score.