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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Commentary: Football’s rosy mindset a realistic one

On the morning after the first day of training camp, the Arizona football team huddled up and made a statement to not only themselves, but to the University of Arizona and the entire Pacific 10 Conference.

A chant of “”Rose Bowl”” echoed through Rincon Vista Sports Complex, signifying a 2010 season of redemption and the motivation to grab hold of the wide-open Pac-10.

A few years ago, the words Rose Bowl would never have been uttered during training camp, especially publicly and on the very first day of work.

“”It’s really different because if we would have said that in the past, people would have probably laughed,”” said junior cornerback Trevin Wade.

Arizona is the only current member of the Pac-10 never to appear in the Rose Bowl, making the Wildcats’ chant and infatuation with the bowl game seem a bit far-fetched. But the Wildcats have been to back-to-back bowl games, and finished sixth, fifth and second in the conference the last three seasons, respectively.

“”There’s nowhere else to be but first now,”” Wade said. “”Everybody’s got to look to the same goals and we got to get this first place for the Pac-10 Championship.””

The simple fact that head coach Mike Stoops and his players talked so openly about accomplishing such a feat so early on speaks volumes about the determination and confidence that this group possesses. And that confidence is undoubtedly warranted.

Despite their history as a program, as well as being picked fifth in the conference’s preseason polls, Arizona is making the transition from the hunter to the hunted.

This is a team that was a few plays away from the Rose Bowl last season, but watched its season go down the drain after some unexpected losses and ultimately a no-show at the Holiday Bowl.

However, the Wildcats have proved their pedigree. With a more seasoned and lethal offense in place, as well as an extremely talented crop of youngsters, the time is now for Arizona football.

USC is out of the mix due to suspension, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was dismissed from the Oregon team and the rest of the talent crop is fairly even, leaving the door to the Rose Bowl is wide open.

The opportunity that lies ahead is certainly a motivating factor for the Wildcats, but there’s no doubt that ridding themselves of the sour taste that was the 2009 Holiday Bowl also keeps this squad pushing that much harder for its goals.

Toward the end of the 2009 college football season, the city of Tucson smelled the roses, as it prepared for what seemed to be Arizona’s first crack at the Rose Bowl.

But the Wildcats unraveled.

However, if their attitude and demeanor at the first day of training camp was any indication, the Holiday Bowl blunder served as the ultimate blessing in disguise, producing a hungry, determined and confident 2010 Arizona football team.

When asked what the difference in mindset was heading into this season, Stoops said, “”Just more confident.””

The players echoed that statement.

“”Our ultimate goal is the Rose Bowl, but that’s every team in the Pac-10’s ultimate goal,”” said quarterback Nick Foles.

“”We’re just trying to instill the confidence in the guys that we’re capable of doing that. If you instill that confidence than we’re more likely to succeed.””

The Wildcats did lose some major leadership on defense as well as their entire linebacker core at the end of last season, but they have enough talent and personnel to fill in the cracks.

It’s hard to say exactly what this Wildcat team will be able to accomplish on the field less than a week into training camp, but there’s no doubting that their mindset is a great indication of what they are aiming to do this season.

Stoops described their attitude as businesslike and emphasized that they know what they want to accomplish and are serious about making it happen.

While that isn’t automatically going to result in a Rose Bowl bid or one of the top spots in the Pac-10, it certainly is a good start.

— Mike Schmitz is a marketing junior and can be reached

at sport@wildcat.arizona.edu

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