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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Remembering 2009’s loss to Iowa and why 2010 is different

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats take on The Citadel Bulldogs Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson Ariz. The Wildcats rolled the Bulldogs 52-6 to earn their second win of the season.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats take on The Citadel Bulldogs Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson Ariz. The Wildcats rolled the Bulldogs 52-6 to earn their second win of the season.

Each Arizona sports fan, player and coach remembers the Wildcats’ 2009 loss to Iowa in Iowa City.

Amid a competition between quarterbacks, then-starter Matt Scott and now-starter Nick Foles, Arizona came out rattled by the Hawkeyes.

The Wildcats were offensively stagnant, struggled defensively and fell to the Hawkeyes, 27-17, in their third game of the 2010 campaign.

“”Last year I didn’t think we played well as a team,”” said head coach Mike Stoops after Arizona’s 52-6 win over The Citadel. “”I think our defense obviously wore down. I think we only had close to 50 plays. You can’t do that and expect to beat them.””

The Scott-led offense struggled through three quarters, scoring only by a Trevin Wade 38-yard pick-six and an Alex Zendejas field goal. Arizona collected only eight first downs to Iowa’s 19 and totaled only 50 passing yards before the fourth quarter.

“”I remember starting out real slow,”” said junior receiver Juron Criner. “”We just couldn’t get it going. Then we made a couple changes, couple subs, then it just started clicking and only if we had a little more time.””

The change Criner referred to was the Scott for Foles exchange. The pace picked up and there was a glimmer of hope with Foles at the helm.

“”Things started going a little faster and started clicking a little more and it just changed the whole game,”” Criner said of when Foles, who went 6-for-11 for 55 yards and a score, entered the game.

Foles moved the ball and ultimately earned the Wildcats their first offensive TD – a 10-yard pass to Criner – of the game, but it was too little too late.

The defense had already worn down and allowed 27 Hawkeye points with 4:40 left in the fourth, while Arizona trailed with 17.

Arizona looked like an inexperienced team without much discipline, but 2010 may look to be a different story when the No. 24 Wildcats host the No. 9 Hawkeyes Saturday night at 7:30 on ESPN.

What is different this time around?

“”I feel a lot more confident,”” Criner said of the team’s chances in round two. “”We only lost to them by 10 (points) a year ago and I feel like we was not as complete of a team last year when we lost to them, so I feel like we’re definitely going to give them a run for their money.””

That confidence is a theme throughout the entire team.

Although they’ve lost seven starters on defense, as well as wideout Delashaun Dean on offense, Arizona is more seasoned offensively and more cohesive as a unit. As Foles put it, the team has “”grown together.””

“”We were young last year,”” he said. “”We’ve played a lot more games and I think we’ve grown together as a team and I think that’s going to be key in this game, is how close we stay together.””

Defensive backs Devin Ross and Cam Nelson are no longer in the secondary, and Earl Mitchell, Vuna Tuihalamaka and Xavier Kelley are no longer leading the defense.

But the 2010 Wildcats have the Hawkeyes at home, a drastically improved and more seasoned Foles – as well as the prolific combination he and Criner now form –  and a chance at revenge.

They certainly won’t total only 105 passing yards and they won’t have to deal with a quarterback controversy or the hostility of Iowa City.

“”We’re at home, we got the atmosphere, our offense is clicking this year so I think we have a good chance to get them this time,”” Wade said.

 

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