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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    An opening for a stretch run

    UA quarterback Willie Tuitama looks downfield for an open man during the Wildcats 48-20 rout over Washington State on Sept. 29 at Arizona Stadium. Lacking consistency throughout the season, Tuitama and the rest of the Wildcats will try their hand at rebounding tomorrow afternoon against Stanford.
    UA quarterback Willie Tuitama looks downfield for an open man during the Wildcats’ 48-20 rout over Washington State on Sept. 29 at Arizona Stadium. Lacking consistency throughout the season, Tuitama and the rest of the Wildcats will try their hand at rebounding tomorrow afternoon against Stanford.

    If there has ever been a must-win for the Arizona football team, this week’s game is it.

    Entering this season it would have been thought improbable for Arizona (2-5, 1-3 Pacific 10 Conference) to be tied with Stanford in the Pac-10 seven games in. But now reality has set in: The Wildcats are right aside the Cardinal (2-4, 1-3) in the conference standings.

    With a faint light of postseason hope still shining, the Wildcats will host Stanford on Saturday at Arizona Stadium at 4 p.m.

    “”It is an important game,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”We need to get back on a run here, and this will be a great opportunity. We are going to have to do a lot of the same things we did last week (against then-No. 10 USC) and get our kids in a great state of mind.””

    But the personality of the Wildcats has yet to be identified. Question marks still surround a squad that has submitted one contradictory performance after another.

    One of the Wildcats’ biggest uncertainties is, suddenly, its offense.

    At times the unit has shown glimpses of excellence, like in a 567-yard performance against Washington State on Sept. 29. But just one week later it showed the exact opposite, channeling last year’s putrid attack by putting up only 231 yards at Oregon State.

    After averaging 30.8 points in the first five games, the Wildcats have scored 29 in their last two combined.

    “”Offensively, we have been a little bit immature at times,”” Stoops said. “”The lack of maturity in the system and in the players is frustrating, but those are the growing pains you go through against some very competitive teams.””

    Though Arizona’s offense is typically pass-based, the running game seems to be the deciding factor in the Wildcats’ success.

    In Arizona’s two victories, the Wildcats have rushed for a combined 416 yards – in their five losses, a total of 122.

    At USC, the running game struggled as freshman running back Nick Grigsby fumbled in the second quarter and was subsequently benched.

    Though senior Chris Jennings – the Wildcats’ starter the first two games – replaced Grigsby for the remainder of the contest, the freshman is still expected to be the No. 1 option tomorrow.

    With both players expected to see the field, quarterback Willie Tuitama said he was encouraged by the backs’ abilities.

    “”They both have shown great things,”” Tuitama said. “”They both support each other. If one starts, the other one will be there to support them, but will also be ready to go, too.””

    With the slight chance the Wildcats still possess for a bowl game berth – possibly needing to win the remainder of their games – Arizona hasn’t lost sight of its lofty goal.

    “”We have five more games, and it is not over yet,”” said offensive tackle Eben Britton. “”You have seen the flashes of brilliance and explosiveness. You see what Texas Tech does in moving the football, and I think we could be there with a little experience.””

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