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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Arizona football searches for answers as Tucson looks ahead to basketball season

Arizona+head+coach+Rich+Rodriguez+scowls+during+the+Wildcats+loss+to+Washington+State+at+Arizona+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+24.+The+Wildcats+will+host+Utah+for+senior+night+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+14%2C+in+Arizona+Stadium.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez scowls during the Wildcats’ loss to Washington State at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 24. The Wildcats will host Utah for senior night on Saturday, Nov. 14, in Arizona Stadium.

Swish. That’s the sound every Arizona fan wants to hear right now because apparently it’s basketball season after the Wildcats’ disappointing 45-42 finish on Homecoming weekend against Washington State.

The discussion of basketball isn’t the one head coach Rich Rodriguez wants to hear, considering there is an entire month of football left to play. But this is the typical reaction by fans when the football squad isn’t performing to the higher standard set by Tucson basketball fanatics who are used to seeing Arizona win consistently.

Arizona Stadium wasn’t close to being sold out Saturday, which included the ZonaZoo only being three-quarters full. The Wildcats entered Saturday’s contest with a 5-2 record, 2-2 in Pac-12 Conference play and on the outside looking to attempt to defend their Pac-12 South crown.

There was a reason Arizona scheduled Wazzu for Homecoming: so alumni, students and locals could witness an exhilarating game. A winning record, a week filled with special events and two Arizona football legends returning to Tucson all seemed to be leading up to a perfect weekend for the UA.

Former offensive weapons Ka’Deem Carey and Bobby Wade were inducted into the Ring of Honor at Arizona Stadium during halftime Saturday.

Cougars head coach Mike Leach is a pioneer of the spread offense, and Saturday’s matchup was a duel between two offensive magicians. Leach got the upper hand over Rodriguez on Saturday afternoon as his quarterback Luke Falk threw for 514 yards along with five touchdowns and no turnovers.

Rodriguez limited himself in the short post-game press conference, but said the game was “very frustrating.”

The Cougars deserved a win because they quickly recognized a struggling and desperate Arizona defense that had trouble getting to the quarterback. A quarterback like Falk who has four interceptions on the season proved to be detrimental to a depleted Arizona defense.

Falk targeted 10 different receivers Saturday and ultimately picked apart the Wildcats’ defense, but that’s not a reason to stop believing in Arizona’s football squad. One man was forced to put an entire team on his back with his arm and playmaking ability, and it worked.

“There wasn’t anything that was new, I don’t think, from what they’ve done before,” Rodriguez said. “We certainly didn’t get [any] pressure on the quarterback, and it was just like, he just sat there, [took] his time and [threw] it to the open guy. Frustrating.”

Rodriguez is in his fourth season at Arizona and fans are desperate to see the winning theme return from the 2014 season. If not, the basketball team can and will take all the support they can get. Isn’t this the typical Arizona fan, though?

Remember in the Mike Stoops era when fans would chant “hoops over Stoops” because Stoops’ squad was mediocre? Is it because it’s that easy to end the season early with everyone knowing another run at a basketball championship is right around the corner?

Arizona took a disappointing loss to a Washington State program that is still in the rebuilding process, so it doesn’t look good on the schedule results. But don’t jump ship just yet.

The Wildcats are now 5-3, which is still a winning record and has been rumored to send Arizona to the Sun Bowl, Alamo Bowl or Las Vegas Bowl. It’s still a successful season if the Wildcats become bowl eligible, regardless of what the fans may think or expect.

It may not be the historic season Wildcats fans witnessed in 2014, but this program isn’t to the point where it can expect to make a New Year’s Six bowl game every season.

Arizona won six games within one possession last season. Imagine if those games went the other way, and Arizona went 4-8 instead of a 10-2 regular season that sent the Wildcats to Levi’s Stadium for the Pac-12 Football Championship Game last year. The Wildcats would have headed home in shame.

Arizona is having another one of those types of seasons, but now it’s favoring in the other team’s direction.

It’s understandable that basketball season is a very special time of the year, but until January comes around, football season should still be on every Arizona fan’s agenda. Basketball will always be there for fans’ pleasure, but football only has one more home game left against Utah. A matchup with a top 10 team at home will be a true test for Arizona fans to show that hoops is the second thing on their minds behind the pigskin.

The Wildcats will square off against the Utes on Saturday, Nov. 14, at Arizona Stadium.


Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.


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