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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A season slipping away

    California running back James Montgomery slips by UA linebacker Spencer Larsen during Arizonas 45-27 loss to the Golden Bears last weekend in Berkeley, Calif.
    California running back James Montgomery slips by UA linebacker Spencer Larsen during Arizona’s 45-27 loss to the Golden Bears last weekend in Berkeley, Calif.

    Though it seems there should never be a must-win game this early in the season, the Arizona football team has proven that is not the case.

    After getting off to a 1-3 (0-1 Pacific 10 Conference) start, the Wildcats find themselves needing a victory to keep hopes realistic for a bowl game berth.

    Arizona will attempt to get its season on track when it hosts Washington State tomorrow at Arizona Stadium at 7 p.m. “”It is a very balanced and competitive league,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops of the Pac-10. “”Every game has significant meaning, and this is the next game on the schedule and we need to win.””

    After Arizona defeated Washington State in Pullman, Wash., last season, it seemed to have been the psychological boost the Wildcats needed going into the final stretch of conference games.

    Arizona went on to upset then-No. 8 California and Oregon in the next two contests to put it on track for its firstbowl berth since 1998, before blowing that chance in the final game of the season by losing to ASU.

    Although the matchup comes much earlier in the schedule this season, the team hopes a victory over the Cougars can revive its season for the second consecutive year.

    “”There are some similarities (between the two games),”” Stoops said. “”We just have to go out and make plays. We are close in a lot of areas, but we just need to play a little better.””

    The defense continued to struggle last week at No. 6 California , allowing 21 firstquarter points , which forced the offense to abandon its game plan and try to play catch-up .

    Arizona has had problems stopping the run game while struggling to get to the quarterback. The Wildcats have only eight sacks in four games while giving up 440 yards rushing, 186 to the Golden Bears .

    “”It is extremely frustrating, of course,”” said defense coordinator
    Mark Stoops. “”The good thing is there is a lot of correctable things out there. It is frustrating because it is a team game, and it’s a little breakdown here and there.””

    Linebacker Spencer Larsen acknowledged Arizona’s defensive
    struggles, which he attributed to mental errors that led to big mistakes .

    “”Most of the time when you’re playing really hard, those mistakes get covered up,”” he said. “”We play hard. It is not
    a lack of effort, it is just lack of discipline here and there. …
    We can play much better.””

    The offense has continued to show it can be a force to reckoned with, but the unit has struggled in the red zone, as an assortment of penalties and turnovers have prevented the Wildcats from scoring valuable points.

    Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said before the season the goal of the Arizona offense was to score at least 30 points per game to put the team in a position to win every week.

    Though the Wildcats have come close to that mark – scoring 26.5 points per game – he said the array of mental mistakes has cost the team, resulting in a number of points being left on the field.

    Arizona is 12-2 since 2001 when it scores at least 30 points and 12-47 otherwise. “”We have done some decent things,”” Dykes said. “”We feel like we are moving the ball extremely well between the 20s, but we just need to do a better job in the red zone and eliminate turnovers.””

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