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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona hosts Utah as bowl hopes grow slim

Janice Biancavilla
Janice Biancavilla/ Arizona Daily Wildcat UA vs. Stanford at Arizona Stadium on Saturday Sept. 17, 2011. Stanford beat UA 37-10

Time is running out for Arizona.

The Wildcats (2-6, 1-5 Pac-12 Conference) have to win each of their remaining four games to gain bowl eligibility, starting Saturday at 4 p.m. when Arizona hosts Utah at Arizona Stadium.

But even though Arizona faces long odds in trying to reach a bowl game, safety Robert Golden said he doesn’t feel the pressure mounting.

“We take it one game at a time, not looking at what we’ve got ahead of us,” Golden said. “We just want to beat Utah and keep it going. It’s just going to take one game at a time and see where we end up at the end.”

A board with Arizona’s schedule on it hangs on the fence in the Jimenez Practice Facility and illustrates Golden’s mindset. Every game is blocked out by black tape, except for the one being played that week.

Wide receiver Gino Crump said the turmoil that Arizona has faced in the recent weeks has forced the Wildcats to focus more on the task directly in front of them.

“We’re just hyped and ready to finish the season off strong,” Crump said. “I think a lot of times early in the season, we were thinking about too many things that were far ahead instead of just focusing on the task at hand.”

Utah (4-4, 1-4) enters Saturday’s game with the conference’s No. 12-ranked offense, racking up just over 306 yards per game while being led by backup quarterback Jon Hays, whom Golden described as “struggling.”

But Hays will try to air it out against a secondary missing starting cornerback Shaquille Richardson for the second straight week. Richardson was suspended for last week’s game at Washington and will miss the Utah game with a sprained ankle that he suffered in practice.

Nickelback Jourdon Grandon will likely slide into Richardson’s spot on the defense, while freshman Tra’Mayne Bondurant will play the nickel spot vacated by Grandon.

“We’ve had (Grandon) and Lyle (Brown) competing all week,” interim head coach Tim Kish said. “I think they’ll both play some.”

As ineffective as the Utah offense has been at times, the Utes have the Pac-12’s No. 2 scoring defense, giving up 20.6 points per game, and the No. 1 defense in total yardage, allowing just over 325 yards per game.

Crump said Utah’s pass defense is a little different than anything else the Wildcats will see in conference play because of the way that Utah’s cornerbacks will creep up close to the line of scrimmage and play physical man coverage.

But even though the Ute defense brings a physicality that Arizona hasn’t seen this season, Crump said that the Wildcat receivers are ready for the challenge.

“That’s what you want as a wide receiver,” Crump said. “For a guy to come man you up, pressure you, it’s mano a mano and that’s what this game’s about — just stepping up and proving who’s the best.”

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