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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    WSU not looking past UA this time

    For the third time this season, the Arizona football team faces off against a team with a feasible chip on its shoulder .

    Last year, the Wildcats beat Brigham Young, then-No. 8 California and then-No. 25 Washington State to account for half their wins. All three opponents essentially had the outcome of their seasons affected by Arizona’s victory.

    BYU would have gotten into a better postseason game than the Las Vegas Bowl, and California would have been the Pacifi c 10 Conference’s representative in the Rose Bowl.

    As for WSU, the Cougars were sitting pretty entering last season’s game, coming off consecutive upsets over UCLA
    and Oregon.

    Then there was Arizona, at 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the conference, coming to Pullman, Wash. The Wildcats had lost their last four meetings against WSU but pulled off its fi rst conference upset, 27- 17, in a string of three that ultimately defi ned the 2006 season.

    The Cougars went on to lose their final two games, fi nishing with the same overall and conference records as Arizona (6-6, 4-5), as well as the same postseason result – no bowl.

    Now Arizona is 1-3, with two of those losses coming against teams it beat last season.

    “”Last year’s game was very disappointing,”” said Cougars quarterback Alex Brink. “”We came in kind of on a high note. We were ranked at the time. They kind of jumped up and got us. I think that game was certainly a turning point in our season. It was a pretty big key for what happened down the stretch.””

    In their second battle of the season against a Cougars team, the Wildcats see several similarities between them and WSU. Both have pass-heavy attacks, both are coming off losses against
    teams ranked in the top 10 nationally and both team’s seasons may be defi ned by tomorrow’s outcome.

    After a 47-14 loss last week at No. 1 USC, the Cougars can ill afford to lose another conference game, and make their bowl chances even sparser.

    Sound familiar?

    “”I think we’re both at a crossroads,”” Brink said. “”We need to take it and go somewhere with it.””

    “”You certainly don’t want to start the season 0-2 against the Pac-10, especially with how many good teams there are,
    but the pressure is what it always is, you know, very high,”” he added.

    Brink noticed several similarities between tomorrow’s game and last year’s.

    “”I said before the season there comes a time when we’re going to have to step up to the plate and make the season what it is,”” he said. “”I think this game is going to be a good indication.””

    The game may be a four-hour display like the UA-New Mexico game Sept. 15, as both teams like to keep the ball off the ground.

    “”A lot of guys who aren’t accurate are indecisive because they don’t know where they want to go with the football, and I feel like that’s one of my strengths,”” Brink said. “”I’m able to get the ball out fast, and I’m fortunate to have a great group of receivers who make a lot of great catches for me.””

    Brink ranks 18th nationally in passing efficiency, but WSU’s offense doesn’t spread the ball as much as Arizona’s, as only four receivers have more than fi ve catches.

    “”Alex Brink is a guy that’s played a long time,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”The thing you love about him is he’s a very competitive player.””

    Brink also is known for his scrambling and rushing ability. Last year he had 220 yards on 78 attempts, as well as two touchdowns.

    “”He’s one of the more elusive quarterbacks Wilrey Fontenot. “”He can beat you with his arm or his leg .””

    Wide receiver Brandon Gibson averages 90 yards per game, four more yards than Arizona’s leading receiver, Mike Thomas.

    The Cougars also bring a balanced rushing attack with sophomore running back Dwight Tardy, averaging 82.5 yards per game with four touchdowns. As a whole, WSU averages 136 yards per game, nearly doubling Arizona’s output.

    “”They can move the football with some real consistency,”” Stoops said. “”Washington State is a lot like us, fi ghting for position.””

    Add in the solid passing game with Brink and the offense is outgaining Arizona’s spread attack.

    “”It’s going to be a great atmosphere,”” Brink said about tomorrow’s game. “”It’s something that we’re ready for.

    “”Defi nitely this week, our run for a bowl game starts, and we recognize that and realize the importance of this game.

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