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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats face tough road test against Nevada

Wildcats+face+tough+road+test+against+Nevada

Arizona football’s first road test of the season will be in Reno, Nev., when the No. 22 Wildcats take on Nevada Saturday night.

Coming off a 42-32 victory over UTSA last Thursday, the Wildcats will be looking to continue their momentum in their non-conference schedule.

There is recent history between the Wildcats and Wolf Pack. Last season, Arizona defeated Nevada 35-28 in Arizona Stadium. Both schools met in the New Mexico Bowl three years ago where Arizona scored two last minute touchdowns to shock the Wolf Pack and win 49-48.

The Wildcats have had their fair share of injuries to open the season, most notably to linebacker Scooby Wright III. Head coach Rich Rodriguez says some teams just have bad luck.

“Guys are in shape and some of our best conditioned guys just have bad luck,” Rodriguez said. “It’s frustrating because probably most coaches, like myself, [had the players do] less hitting and probably less contact [in practices] during the season, but it just happens. It’s a fast, violent game.”

Rodriguez said he does not believe the tempo change from practice to a game is the problem because they practice at game speed to help better prepare for game situations.

“I just think it’s kids are faster and stronger and that may contribute something to it,” Rodriguez said.

Cornerback Cam Denson is probable to play Saturday and left tackle Freddie Tagaloa will be good to go. The Wildcats will also return receiver Samajie Grant, safety Tellas Jones and defensive lineman Anthony Fotu. All three players were suspended for the UTSA game for violating team rules.

Grant’s return adds more depth to a loaded receiving corps.

“Samajie being able to play, he’s an all-around talented athlete,” quarterback Anu Solomon said.

Tagaloa will look to play his first game of the season come Saturday. It will be his job to protect Solomon’s blind side.

“He’s a big target,” Solomon said. “With him being back out there, it’s a great thing for the other lineman because he’s mentally there on the field and it’s good for me.”

The offense did have moments of struggle against UTSA. Solomon said the first game of the season tends to have more mistakes.

“It’s our first game. People are going to have jitters. People are going to make mistakes,” Solomon said. “As the season goes on, we have to limit those mistakes. If we play like how we played our first game, it’s going to be a long season for us.”

Solomon and the offense now look ahead to Nevada and what the Wolf Pack defense will bring to the game.

“[The defense] is fundamentally sound. They’re very talented. They get after the ball,” Solomon said. “We can’t take them lightly because they’re another talented team.”

Coach Rodriguez understands the importance of coming out strong against the Wolf Pack.

“They did a good job moving the ball [last year]. We really didn’t have an answer for some of the things they were doing,” he said. “We moved the ball somewhat, but it was a tough bunch. It was a physical game and I expect the same thing Saturday.”

Rodriguez stressed to his team the importance of maturity and being prepared once they hit the road.

“I go back to the last road game of the regular season at Utah,” Rodriguez said. “Bad weather, good team we were playing and the kids just seemed to have a sense of maturity and awareness that nothing extracurricular was going to affect them. So I’m hoping this team is the same way.”

After the close call with UTSA on opening night and a close game with Nevada last season, the Wildcats cannot take the Wolf Pack lightly and will need to sharpen their own game if they wish to walk out of Reno with a victory.


Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.


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