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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats lack the will to win

Head+coach+Mike+Stoops+looks+on+during+his+team%3Fs+stunning+36-33+defeat+at+the+hands+of+the+Washington+Huskies+Saturday.+Stoops+and+Co.+must+develop+a+killer+instinct+if+they+hope+to+make+a+bowl+game+this+season.
Head coach Mike Stoops looks on during his team?s stunning 36-33 defeat at the hands of the Washington Huskies Saturday. Stoops and Co. must develop a killer instinct if they hope to make a bowl game this season.

SEATTLE – As Arizona football players and coaches made one of the longest walks of their lives from the sideline to the locker room Saturday, one thing was clear — this one hurt.

The unprecedented turn of events that transpired during the closing minutes of Arizona’s 36-33 loss to Washington will be discussed ad nauseum over the next few days. Some will blame it on luck, some will blame it on fate and some will blame it on the referees.

But the only thing the Wildcats can blame it on is themselves.

Saturday is a classic example of what can happen when a team fails to show that “”go for the jugular”” attitude.  Arizona proved on Saturday that it lacks the killer instinct needed to be a winning team.

The Wildcats did a phenomenal job setting the tone in the first quarter, intercepting Washington quarterback Jake Locker on the opening drive of the game then marching 67 yards downfield on the ensuing possession to take a 7-0 lead.

A few plays later, Arizona cornerback Devin Ross made a fantastic defensive play, avoiding a Husky blocker to blow up a screen play and force a fumble that was recovered by the Wildcats. After official review, the referees overturned the play and determined that the Washington receiver never had possession, changing the result from a second Husky turnover in as many drives to an incomplete pass.

Rather than leave the play behind them, Arizona’s defense looked deflated. Whether or not the officials made the correct call is debatable, but what isn’t debatable is that the Wildcats needed to put it in the past and get hungry to make another play.

Instead they sat back, missed some tackles and allowed Locker to scamper for a 56-yard touchdown.

At that point the game still belonged to Arizona. If the Wildcats took the ball downfield and responded with a touchdown of their own, Locker’s incredible score would have looked like a fluke, and the momentum — and confidence — would belong to Arizona.

Instead, Arizona drove down the field to set up a first-and-goal inside the Washington 5-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal. Points on the board, sure, but everyone knew that the real victor of that drive was Washington.

The Wildcats could have put the game away for good in the first quarter and taken a commanding lead, but instead they got complacent, allowing Washington to stick around.

It only got worse from there.

Running back Greg Nwoko was stuffed inches from the end zone on a critical fourth-and-goal in the second quarter, and Arizona settled for a field goal after taking over at Washington’s 9-yard-line. In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats settled for two more field goals deep in Washington territory.

Then it happened.

Locker led an impressive touchdown drive to bring the Huskies within five points, and Washington linebacker Mason Foster scored one of the most improbable defensive touchdowns to put the game away for good.

Had Arizona scored a touchdown on any of the four drives that ended with field goals or done the same on the drive that ended at Washington’s inch-line, they would have easily won.

Instead they settled for field goals, leaving points on the field and giving away a game that belonged to them.

The 2009 version of Arizona football is much better than any team in recent memory. It has a lot of talent, good chemistry and good coaching. The components to win close games are in place, but if the Wildcats can’t develop that killer instinct, then it is going to be a very long, disappointing season.

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