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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Same flaws doom Wildcats

Mike+Christy+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AThe+Arizona+Wildcats+and+No.+14+Oklahoma+State+go+head+to+head+in+the+Valero+Alamo+Bowl+Wednesday%2C+Dec.+29%2C+2010%2C+at+the+Alamodome+in+San+Antonio%2C+Texas.+The+Cowboys+rolled+to+a+36-10+victory.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats and No. 14 Oklahoma State go head to head in the Valero Alamo Bowl Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The Cowboys rolled to a 36-10 victory.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Arizona swore it was a new season.

The Wildcats would tell anyone willing to listen that their four-game losing was behind them. Head coach Mike Stoops dubbed the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl a “”new beginning”” for the Wildcats.

This was their new campaign and they were expecting big things, as the boys in Cardinal and Navy supposedly had their best six practices of the season before departing for San Antonio.

This was a business trip for the Wildcats, after Stoops was too lenient with the team leading up to its embarrassing loss to Nebraska in the 2009 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.

A different mindset was in order and the Holiday Bowl loss to Nebraska was “”in the rear view”” and a thing of the past “”like an ex-girlfriend,”” according to Nick Foles.

This was a chance for Arizona to tap into the Texas recruiting pipeline — the Wildcats even placed a billboard off of the I-37 right before the Commerce Street exit that leads to the Alamodome.

But all of the billboards, talking and changes in attitude meant nothing come gametime, as the Oklahoma State Cowboys mopped the turf with a Wildcats team that looked eerily similar to the squad that dropped its final four games of the season.

The same careless mistakes plagued the Wildcats when the lights were bright and the stage grandiose.

Bug Wright still muffed punts, despite playing his first game since coming back from suspension.

Alex Zendejas still missed field goals — knocking in only one of his three attempts – yet Stoops still leaned on No. 14’s leg in important situations.

Arizona still committed careless penalties – eight for 65 yards, including four false stars coming on third down.

The defense as a whole showed up for the most part, but the secondary still got burned – Justin Blackmon grabbed nine balls for 117 yards and two scores, including a 70-yard play-action bomb during which safety Anthony Wilcox completely blew his assignment and was nowhere to be found.

Foles and company still struggled in the red zone, cashing in on only one of three attempts while the Cowboys went 2-of-2 inside the 20.

Even dating back to last season, this looked like the same lifeless team that ran timidly onto the Qualcomm Stadium field and laid down for Nebraska a season ago.

A few things were different, but none of them positive.

Foles was no longer Arizona’s savior, as he threw three crucial interceptions.

Keola Antolin’s durability came to an end when he left the game early in the first quarter with a concussion after getting blasted helmet-to-helmet.

Nic Grigsby actually played from start to finish, but none of that mattered as all of his carries came with the Arizona fighting to make a game out of its botched attempt.

Arizona’s defense finally woke up, but the tradeoff came in the form of an offense missing in action.

Some of the Wildcats’ elements changed, but none of which they talked about, and none of which they wanted. No matter how much they begged us to believe it, nothing truly changed during those three weeks off, and it showed on the field.

The Wildcats haven’t won a game since Oct. 30 and they haven’t ever gotten rid of the penalties, lack of focus, red-zone struggles, and missed field goals that plagued them down the stretch of the season. Bad habits formed and instead of learning how to win, Arizona quickly learned how to lose.

Stoops and company wanted the Alamo Bowl to serve as a new beginning, but instead it’s the end of one of the most epic collapses in Arizona history.

The Wildcats will have to wait until August for their true “”new beginning.””

— Mike Schmitz is a marketing junior and can be reached at Sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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