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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

‘Cat fight

Cat fight

On paper, the Arizona football team’s matchup with the Washington State Cougars is a total mismatch. But UA players and coaches will be the first to point out that games aren’t played on paper and the Wildcats (5-2, 3-1 Pacific 10 Conference) aren’t taking the struggling Cougars (1-7, 0-5 Pac-10) for granted.

“”To me, they’re a Pac-10 team. They haven’t had much success, but we certainly know what that’s like, as much as anybody,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”We’re not looking to miss a step. We’re looking to get out and play well, get in a rhythm on both sides of the ball and try to put a total effort together. It’s Homecoming, and we want to get out and play well.””

If the Wildcats play well enough to earn the win during Saturday afternoon’s game at Arizona Stadium, they will clinch bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season and for the third time in the last four years. Arizona finished 6-6 in 2006 but didn’t go to a bowl game. While a post-season game is an achievement for any football program, in past years that could have been considered a dream season for Arizona. This year, the Wildcats are driven by more than qualifying for a bowl game.

“”That’s not a thought this year, it has been in the past getting to that magical number six. I think the thought of the folks this year is just winning the next game,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”I think that’s really what we’re striving for is playing well. I think our defense grew up a little bit the last time we stepped on the field against UCLA and just challenged ourselves to be a little bit better. That’s what we’re trying to build on.””

Following a bye week for the Wildcats, the Cougars could serve as a good building block in Arizona’s season. Washington State has allowed an average of 37 points per game this season and given up an average 511 yards per contest, marks that rank 114th and 119th out of 120 Division I teams.

The offense hasn’t helped the team often either as the Cougars average 15 points per game and 282.75 yards gained per game rank 116th and 114th, respectively. But despite their statistics being among the lowest in the nation, Arizona doesn’t expect an easy game to come to Tucson this weekend.

“”Last year Washington State came in and put up 28 points, so I don’t see how anyone can try and look past that defensively at all,”” said UA senior safety Cam Nelson. “”They have a young quarterback who’s pretty good, they have a returning running back, Dwight Tardy, he’s pretty good.

“”In the Pac-10 you’ve always got to be ready. You never know what’s going to happen any game, just like Washington. “”Nelson added. “”We felt like we were going to go in there and win that one and that’s what happens.””

Arizona knows from experience that any team can rise up, see last year’s 36-28 loss to a New Mexico team that finished the season with a 4-8 record, and coaches have been pounding that message home for the past two weeks.

“”Don’t miss any steps, the season will take care of itself, and you can only go one game at a time,”” Mike Stoops said. “”All we can do this week is be 6-2 at the end of the week or be 5-3. That’s kind of where we’re at.””

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