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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Back to the drawing board

 Arizona senior linebacker Xavier Kelley struggles to bring down Iowa running back Adam Robinson. With 102 yards rushing, the freshman back caused problems for a lethargic Arizona defense.
Arizona senior linebacker Xavier Kelley struggles to bring down Iowa running back Adam Robinson. With 102 yards rushing, the freshman back caused problems for a lethargic Arizona defense.

It wasn’t supposed go like this.

Fresh off of its first bowl victory in a decade, Arizona football was supposed to be a team on the rise. It was supposed to be a team with blossoming talent at every position, a team that was supposed to give even Southern California a run for its money.

Words and phrases like “”trendy pick”” and “”Cinderella”” were used. There was even talk of a double-digit win season. On the cusp of a Rose Bowl bid? Anything was possible back in August. But now it’s almost October, and if anyone is still making those claims they aren’t making them with much confidence.  

A team on the cusp. Yes, but a team on the cusp of a very disappointing season.

Saturday cut much deeper than a 27-17 loss to Iowa. Arizona failed to make a national statement despite a golden opportunity to do so on ABC against a renowned Big Ten Conference program.

Its quarterback situation that was once promised as a race between two starter-quality players was exposed as a contest to see which player wasn’t worse.

Rob Gronkowski, the best player on the team and perhaps the best tight end in the country, has to undergo season-ending back surgery.

Wait, there’s more.

The Pacific 10 Conference is much better and has much more deepth than it originally seemed. California is a powerhouse and UCLA beat Tennessee, a Southeastern Conference team that held Florida to just 23 points.

And remember Washington, that goofy team in purple and gold that couldn’t play itself out of a paper bag? They’re legitimate. They beat USC, and could probably beat any team in the conference right now.

Yes, the ‘Cats still have a winning record, but after Saturday’s perfect storm of events Arizona is facing the turning point of its season much earlier than anyone expected.

And it’s all on them.

The toughest opponent that Arizona has to face is Arizona. Can they find a guy who can throw the ball? Can they find a way to have 11 starters on offense and 11 starters on defense show up ready to play, rather than just a select few? Can they tackle? Can they catch?

There are so many questions surrounding the program right now that I don’t think Jeopardy god Ken Jennings can help.

Now hold on a second, they’re only in the fourth week of the season – why such negativity?

Iowa was too hostile of an environment. Iowa was too big and too physical. Arizona should give both Matt Scott and Nick Foles a few weeks to get acclimated.

Those are excuses — excuses that surrounded the Arizona football program for most of this abysmal decade of football. Excuses that head coach Mike Stoops has been trying to eradicate since he first touched down in Tucson in 2004.

Stoops knows that the complacent attitude that’s plagued Arizona football for far too long can’t continue. Starting Foles this week is the right decision. Pundits might question whether or not it was too soon to make a switch and if it crushed the spirit of Matt Scott, but it was a decision that needed to be made. “”Air Zona”” was going nowhere with Scott at the helm, and rather than use his three games as a starter to prove his worth, he digressed with each week.

Given the way that the cards stacked against them on Saturday, the Wildcats need to make difficult choices and they need toughness — they need a sense of urgency. Football is a cutthroat business, and people who sit back and watch have no place in the game.

Stoops realizes this and is starting the movement forward.

Is anyone else with him?

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