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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

The hungry, hungry Wildcats

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Larry Hogan
Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Down 28-13 late in the third quarter, quarterback Matt Scott failed to connect with David Richards on a third and six. The Wildcats were forced to give the ball back to No. 10 USC with 6:11 left in the third quarter and the game in danger of escaping them.

At the time USC’s Marqise Lee had a Pac-12 record 299 receiving yards and the Wildcats had been more or less useless at stopping the Trojan air attack. The defense could have panicked and let the game slip away. They could have folded and let USC humiliate them much in the same way Oregon did a month ago.

Instead, the defense decided it was hungry. Why, you might ask?
“[The team has] gotta eat, that’s what it is,” running back Ka’Deem Carey said. “That’s how we got to look at the next games, we gotta eat … We got to fill up the stomachs.”

And eat they did.

The Wildcats turned one of the most talented teams in the nation into a delicious meal, feasting their way to their signature win of the season. And with the way the schedule now stands, Arizona will continue eating all the way to a bowl game — it’s just a shame a Pac-12 team can’t play in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

“It doesn’t matter what our record is, anything like that, you always gotta eat,” center Addison Bachman said. “Fuel this drive and we’re gonna keep eating ‘til the very end.”

Three weeks ago, none of this seemed possible. The Wildcats had just blown a 14-point lead on the road to then-No. 18 Stanford.

They were banged up, frustrated and on the verge of being broken.

Already on a three game losing streak, Arizona had a talented Washington team coming to town and then back-to-back games against the Southern California schools.

Going into that week head coach Rich Rodriguez said the team created the mantra of being hungry. Mottos like that can often be empty words, and with the way the team had collapsed lately, they should have sounded hollow. The Wildcats easily could have lost their appetite, packed it in and waited until next year.

But that’s not what happened.

Now after two straight impressive victories, the only remotely difficult games left on the schedule are at UCLA and the rivalry game post-Thanksgiving. Obviously anything could happen in the Pac-12 — as things rarely ever make sense in this conference — and if Scott misses any time from the potential concussion he suffered Saturday, they’ll struggle against everyone except Colorado.

But if its senior leader stays healthy, Arizona could very well win out, finish 9-3 and challenge for the Pac-12 South. At the very worst Arizona going 7-5 and will mean going bowling in December.

“We never quit,” linebacker Jake Fischer said. “We don’t have quit in our guys.”

In the past two games, receiver Austin Hill has devoured 329 yards and two touchdowns, Carey has gulped down 291 rushing yards and Scott has gorged himself with nine touchdowns and 768 yards.

With the way Arizona was hit by injuries, it had every right in the world to unbuckle the belt, throw in the napkin and walk away from the table. Instead it captured a second wind and this team is headed back into the national spotlight.

— Kyle Johnson is a journalism junior, he can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via WildcatSports or KyleJohnsonUA

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