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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA gets early present for holidays

    Arizona will go to one of these seven bowl games.
    Arizona will go to one of these seven bowl games.

    Kimball’s Bits

    Wildcat football fans can finally stop holding their breath.

    For the first time since 1998, they can’t finalize holiday plans with their families over the winter break because the football team just picked up a new hobby – bowling.

    After overcoming a sluggish start at soggy Martin Stadium, the Wildcats cruised to a 59-28 win over lowly Washington State and have three games left on their slate to determine just where they’ll play that no-longer-elusive 13th game of the season.

    “”I think that we’ve expected to do that all along. I think our players had high expectations and I don’t think they’re anywhere close to being satisfied,”” said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”I think they’re happy with what they’ve done but obviously really hungry to go out there and prove that they’re a good team. The guys have worked hard so I don’t think it’s going to do anything but make us hungrier.””

    In fact, after the business-like beating of the Cougars, UA players were somewhat low-key following the most significant win of their college careers. They weren’t reveling in their own success as they achieved one of their preseason goals, but instead, the whole squad showed signs of maturity as they immediately shifted their focus to this week’s opponent in Oregon.

    Aside from a post-game rendition of “”Bear Down”” led by head coach Mike Stoops, the atmosphere was rather subdued for a team that will do something that no Arizona squad has in a decade. Part of that could be because they know they’ll be practicing for a few more weeks than usual.

    Because Arizona clinched a bowl berth of some sort, even if it loses the rest of its games, the Wildcats will have practices they normally haven’t had the past nine seasons in the weeks leading up to the game. The added snaps for players on both sides of the ball will only help the program build on this success in the coming years.

    “”The great thing about going to a bowl game is you basically get another spring training for those guys,”” Dykes said. “”You get a lot of guys reps who have been working hard all year and get a chance to see what they can do, so it makes a huge difference in the development of your young players.””

    The extra month or two’s worth of media coverage and television exposure will also help the team in terms of recruiting, Dykes added.

    But as Dykes and other coaches stated multiple times, the team isn’t satisfied just because they’re going to a bowl game. These Wildcats are more ambitious. They have two games left against opponents ahead of them in the conference standings – Saturday at Eugene, Ore., and a week later they host Oregon State. Arizona could wind up crashing a bowl party that not many people thought it could have attended at the beginning of the year.

    “”It’s definitely a great feeling knowing that we will be going to a bowl game. It’s been a long, tough journey, but it’s been eventful to say the least,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”It makes all that much more gratifying. We know we’ve got our hands full with these last three games and they’re all very important to us and we want to win them all. We’re just focused on Oregon and excited about the opportunity to go up there and play.””

    And the coaches and players have a reason to be excited. If the Wildcats finish this season playing like they have been in the past few weeks, and carry the momentum from this bowl berth into next season, their new hobby just might become a more frequent fixture on their holiday agenda.

    – Brian Kimball is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.


    Pacific 10 Conference Standings

    Team Conf. Overall
    USC 6-1 8-1
    Oregon State 5-1 6-3
    Oregon 5-2 7-3
    Arizona 4-2 6-3
    California 4-2 6-3
    Stanford 4-3 5-5
    Arizona State 2-4 3-6
    UCLA 2-4 3-6
    Washington 0-6 0-9
    Washington State 0-7 1-9

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