Hot Sheet: The man in the mask keeps it light for Cats

This week, Daniel Berk dishes on big and funny man DL Tevin Hood, UCLA's blowout win a year ago in Los Angeles, shotgun snaps, November success against ranked teams and a motivated Ka'Deem Carey.

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  • If we were handing out superlatives to the UA seniors, Tevin Hood would be our pick for “most likely to appear on a Comedy Central roast.”

    The man has some serious personality; it’s on display daily on Twitter at @THood98.

    From tales of riding his bike through campus to his documentation of getting new tattoos, Hood’s Twitter feed is our favorite of any UA player. (B.J. Denker is a close second).

    We got some one-on-one time with the nose tackle this week and giggled our entire way through the interview.

    Here are the highlights of our conversation with Hood, who has 27 tackles, including four tackles-for-loss, in eight games this season.

    The mask: If you watch Arizona games, you’ve probably noticed the giant black ski mask that Hood wears over his face.

    What’s the deal with that?

    “It’s a voodoo thing,” Hood said laughing. “The first time I wore that mask for a full game was the ASU game last year, and that was the best game I ever had. So I stuck with it. When I put it on, I go to work. I don’t wear it in practice or anything, because when I wear it, I get kinda angry.”

    Hood’s mask is, shall we say, a conversation starter.

    “The ref against Cal asked me why I wore it, and I told him it was because I got shot in the face when I was younger,” he said smiling. “He looked at me with a blank stare and said ‘Shot in the face?’ I said, ‘Yeah, when I was younger.’ He said, ‘My god!’ He then spotted the ball and walked away and didn’t speak to me the rest of the game.”

    Hood said he has to speak a “little more forcefully” when talking to his teammates on game day but said it’s worth it.

    The tattoos: Hood got two more tattoos this week and has 70 total.

    From different designs to quotes, Hood has all kinds of artwork on his body.

    Tattoo No. 69, which is located behind Hood’s left ear, is a quote: “Time waits for no man.”

    Tattoo No. 70, on the inside of his arm, is also a quote: “Fate takes a man far from his heart.”

    “They’re just a part of me,” Hood said. “I got my first in March of 2010, so not that long ago. And I’ve just been going ever since.”

    The incident: Hood’s probably still best known for his sideline fight with teammate Cody Ippolito last year during the New Mexico Bowl. Both players were escorted to the locker room following the fracas, which began as a screaming match and led to blows.

    Hood said the two have squashed their beef and have no problem with each other.

    “There’s no animosity,” Hood said. “When the whole thing went down it wasn’t even like we had animosity. It was just a heat-of-the-moment-type thing. I had the mask on.

    “It was my alter ego. Ever since then, we’ve been cool. I’ll see him out when we’re on campus and there are no problems. His girlfriend knows my girlfriend, and it’s all good.”

    • Date: Nov. 3, 2012
    • What went down: UCLA built a 42-3 halftime lead and went on to rout the UA 66-10 at the Rose Bowl. Arizona was held to just 257 yards of offense, while UCLA gained 611 yards on 93 plays.
    • How it read: The Star’s Ryan Finley wrote that not only did the UA get blown out, it also had to deal with injuries to three players. He wrote: “Matt Scott collapsed in a heap, and his white facemask pressed into the Rose Bowl turf. He stayed there for exactly 100 seconds, a slash of white in the baby blue end zone, as Arizona’s already slim chances of a victory slipped away. No. 25 UCLA blitzed 24th-ranked Arizona 66-10 Saturday night in Pasadena, snatching away whatever momentum the Wildcats built with back-to-back Pac-12 wins over Washington and USC. The specifics, for once, were secondary. Scott’s injury, and those to guard Chris Putton and linebacker Hank Hobson, provided sobering perspective for a team that’s battled injuries all season.”
    • Turning point: Is there really a turning point in a 66-10 game? It was already 45-10 when Scott went down in the end zone in the third quarter with a concussion. Arizona went through the motions after that and just looked to get out of Dodge.
    • Stats that matter: UA running back Ka’Deem Carey was held to 54 yards on 16 carries, but had one TD. Carey has rushed for more than 100 yards in 15 of his past 16 games, with this one against UCLA being the only exception. UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin (now with Green Bay) ran for 162 yards on 24 carries and added two TDs in the win.
    • It’s history: UCLA won its next two before dropping its final three games, including a setback to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. Arizona went 3-1 after the embarrassing loss — Scott returned after missing one game — including a win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl.
  • Steven Gurrola has a simple goal: go the entire season without being noticed.

    The UA’s starting center knows he’ll only receive attention if his shotgun snaps are bad or if he’s getting called for penalties.

    Gurrola, a transfer from Glendale Community College, arrived on campus last summer and immediately won the starting spot.

    “He’s a competitor, he wants to do well (and) he wants to win,” offensive line coach Jim Michalczik said.

    “It’s always a big transition for junior college players when they come to a program like ours. It’s a lot bigger than people think. Overall, he’s done a good job and I think he still has room to grow.

    “From Day 1, he’s been able to play.”

    The Star chatted with Gurrola this week about his first year at the UA:

    On the transition: “It’s a lot; it’s tough. I have to read a lot of defenses, and defenses are hard to read. As the center, you never know what the defense is going to do. The defenses are crazy every game.

    “Everything was simpler in high school and junior college.”

    On his responsibility as the center: “I have to call out the points. And by that, I mean the points, the areas that we’re working to. I call out where we’re going and it sets the track for where we’re going as linemen. We want to go where the defense isn’t.”

    On the shotgun snaps: “It’s rough. We did it at junior college. When you’re going fast, you don’t always know where the ball is going. Sometimes I have to look back to get where my aiming area should be.

    “When I got here, I was really bad at it. My snaps kept going to the left. ‘Coach M’ told me to aim to the right, so every time I snap, I aim to the right and now they go in the middle.”

    On having to wait to come to Tucson until the summer and not the spring like most junior college transfers: “If I would have had that spring, I would have been a lot more comfortable in the fall. I wanted to be here so bad, but I had to finish school to be here.”

    On blocking for Ka’Deem Carey: “I’ve never blocked for a guy like him before. Ever. He just makes our job easy. You make a block for two seconds and he’s past you. Then I’m like, ‘That’s all I had to do for a 10-yard gain?’”

  • Tonight’s game will mark the UA’s first against a ranked team in November at Arizona Stadium since 2009. Here’s a look at the six most recent home November home games against ranked teams.

    Nov. 21, 2009No. 11 Oregon 44Arizona 41
    Nov. 22, 2008No. 22 Oregon State 19Arizona 17
    Nov. 15 2007Arizona 34No. 2 Oregon 24
    Nov. 11, 2006Arizona 24No. 8 California 20
    Nov. 5, 2005Arizona 52No. 7 UCLA 14
    Nov. 26, 2004Arizona 34No. 18 Arizona State 27
  • Ka’Deem Carey probably doesn’t have much, if any, chance to be invited to New York City for next month’s Heisman Trophy presentation.

    Nothing against Carey, but there are several factors working against the UA’s star running back.

    First, it’s insanely hard these days for a nonquarterback to win the award. Second, Carey missed the UA’s first game of the season against NAU.

    Finally, although Carey is putting up big numbers, he’s had his biggest games against the Pac-12’s bottom-feeders.

    But we do applaud Ka’Deem for one thing — he’s telling the truth when asked about the Heisman. Carey said he’d love to go to New York and represent the UA.

    “Making big plays, winning big games will put me there,” Carey said this week. “I feel like we’re at a great spot for me to be able to go to New York. You’re talking about a 200-yard game against UCLA. What does that say? I feel like it’s just about making plays in this game.”

    Carey will certainly get more national attention if he can post big numbers tonight against a stellar UCLA defense. But it’ll be tough: Carey has been held to under 100 yards once in his last 16 games, and it came against the Bruins last season at the Rose Bowl.

    Carey said he didn’t know UCLA was the one school to keep him down.

    “I didn’t realize that,” Carey said. “To bring that to my attention now, I have a lot to prove. They haven’t seen me play my best football. I’m excited to show them how I’ve developed since last year.”

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