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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Stoops’ status wasn’t an issue

    UA quarterback Willie Tuitama slips out of the hands of UCLA defensive tackle Kevin Brown during the Wildcats 34-27 win over the Bruins on Saturday. Tuitama is one of the players to say that questions about head coach Mike Stoops job security didnt affect the Wildcats performance.
    UA quarterback Willie Tuitama slips out of the hands of UCLA defensive tackle Kevin Brown during the Wildcats’ 34-27 win over the Bruins on Saturday. Tuitama is one of the players to say that questions about head coach Mike Stoops’ job security didn’t affect the Wildcats’ performance.

    It has been quite apparent through the ups and downs of the Arizona football team’s season that its performances are somewhat affected by its current position.

    Whether the team is in a must-win situation or just feeling the pressure of being in the midst of a losing season, the emotional baggage has been carried over to the field – often causing players to play tight.

    At times and at different places, I feel like we have felt pressure and felt difficult times when we have big games,”” said linebacker Spencer Larsen. “”But I don’t feel that right now. I feel like we all have a good mindset.””

    Added wide receiver Anthony Johnson: “”At times I did think we played tight, and that may have been our downfall earlier on in the season. We have so much talent on this team, and everyone knows it. But when we play tight, that talent doesn’t show.””

    UA President Robert Shelton announced Monday that both head coach Mike Stoops and athletic director Jim Livengood will keep their jobs for at least another season, which has drawn mostly low-key reactions from players.

    Quarterback Willie Tuitama said the status of Stoops’ job wasn’t his main concern on the field, but that he had thought about it.

    Coach (Stoops) is honestly one of the best coaches I have been able to play for,”” Tuitama said. “”I never really felt (that we were playing for Stoops’ job), but it is kind of in the back of your mind. Coach Stoops is definitely somebody I want to play for.””

    Larsen said he didn’t think the news was much of a concern for the team, and that the Wildcats are focused only on the game.

    I don’t think that is really on anyone’s mind,”” Larsen said. “”It is good to hear. I am sure the coaches are relieved, but I don’t think it affected the players that much.””

    Johnson laments UCLA absence

    As the Wildcats took the field before their Homecoming win over UCLA on Saturday, Johnson was watching it in his room alone.

    As he sat on the edge of his bed, diagnosed with a severe case of strep throat, he could only think about being out there with his teammates, he said. Johnson had been out the whole week leading into the game.

    I didn’t want to be bothered. I was sick. I was to myself,”” Johnson said. “”But at the same time I wanted to watch and focus on the game like I was there and in the game. There was some wall banging, some hand claps, some screams, and some excitement and some screams of frustration.

    All and all, it was a frustrating experience not to be there with my teammates. It was one of the worst experiences of my life.””

    Though Johnson isn’t fully recovered yet, he is well enough to practice. He said the bye week is a good time for him to get his
    wind back.””

    Johnson said Tuitama had the same illness the weekend of the Oct. 27 Washington game, and after sitting next to him on the plane, he felt he must have caught it from the junior.

    He joked by saying he deserved it for hanging out with quarterbacks.

    Man, you try (to hang out with them) because they get you the ball, but sometimes it is bad for you,”” Johnson said.

    Bye week allows more prep time for Oregon

    Though the Wildcats took two days off before starting their preparation for No. 3 Oregon, they find themselves ahead of schedule.

    Arizona began to focus on its game plan for Oregon yesterday, which will give them eight days to ready for the Ducks’
    spread offense.

    Playing a team like this, you need the extra time,”” Stoops said. It should help, but it gives them extra time, too. They do a lot of different things offensively, and there is a lot to prepare for.””

    As the Ducks also find themselves in the midst of a bye week – they had their first bye the week of Oct. 6 – Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti said this break came at the right time for his team.

    I think it is a well-deserved bye,”” Bellotti said. “”Hopefully, that rest and that ability to get more focused on the next opponent will help us.””

    Recruit Golden an option again for Cats

    Recruit Golden an option again for’Cats High school cornerback Robert Golden might be choosing Arizona after all.

    Golden retracted his commitment to the program Oct. 25 after the Wildcats had lost their third conference game in a row, to Stanford, and media were speculating that head coach Mike Stoops was on his way out of town.

    Now that Stoops will officially be coming back next season with his coaching staff, Golden is leaning back toward Arizona.

    “”That’s the main reason why I decommitted was because I thought the coaching staff wasn’t going to be there,”” Golden said Tuesday. “”I went there on Friday and met with the athletic director (Jim Livengood), and he looked at me in my eyes and told me they were all coming back.””

    Golden, a four-star recruit out of Fresno, Calif., will make an official announcement Dec. 1, confirmed last night.

    That same day, Arizona’s regular season will come to a close in Tempe in the Territorial Cup game against ASU, another school recruiting Golden. Other Pacific 10 Conference schools looking at Golden are Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and UCLA.

    But Golden said the Wildcats are back to the top of his list because he highly respects Stoops and his brother, Mark, Arizona’s defensive coordinator, for the talent they produce at defensive back.

    Golden is ranked the No. 11 cornerback in the country and No. 18 overall among players from California.

    He was planning on making an announcement Tuesday, but after several media members bombarded his phone, he decided to postpone the decision until Dec. 1, when his high school season is completed.

    -Mike Ritter

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