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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bowl still in ‘Cats’ sights

    Arizona wide receiver Delashaun Dean breaks a tackle during Saturday nights 29-27 loss to New Mexico at Arizona Stadium. Fellow wideout Anthony Johnson still believes the Wildcats can be atop the Pacific 10 Conference at seasons end despite a pair of early losses.
    Arizona wide receiver Delashaun Dean breaks a tackle during Saturday night’s 29-27 loss to New Mexico at Arizona Stadium. Fellow wideout Anthony Johnson still believes the Wildcats can be atop the Pacific 10 Conference at season’s end despite a pair of early losses.

    With high hopes of reaching a bowl game for the first time in nine years, the Arizona football team didn’t expect to be 1-2 heading into Pacific 10 Conference play.

    It also didn’t expect to be in ninth place in the conference before the season even started.

    “”That’s one of the more frustrating things,”” said wide receiver Anthony Johnson. “”This is definitely the most talented team I’ve been on since I’ve been here.

    “”We have all the pieces to the puzzle. For some reason it hasn’t come together, but we still have a lot of football left to play this season.””

    The standard to reach a bowl game is usually seven wins. Last year, Arizona was bowl-eligible with six but was not invited – much to the dismay of UA head coach Mike Stoops, who argued that the team’s eighth-toughest schedule in the country was reason enough to make a postseason berth.

    With the Wildcats’ current schedule, they would have to go at least 5-4 in conference play to get into one of the lesser bowl games. Last season, they went 4-5 and finished in a four-way tie for fifth place, losing a tiebreaker.

    And it’s never going to stay bad. I think it’s a lesson that needs to be learned. You have to pick yourself up. Every player that’s ever played here has been very good at that because it happens over and over again, and it’s gotta stop eventually.

    – Spencer Larsen, UA Linebacker

    Going into conference play, the Wildcats are hoping their preseason, which included two losses to Mountain West Conference teams and a win against a Division I-AA team, doesn’t come back to haunt them.

    “”We haven’t changed anything philosophically in what we do, we just have to do it better,”” Stoops said. “”Our kids have been really resilient. I certainly sense their frustration.””

    “”I’d give you an answer why we haven’t played as well through this three-game stretch,”” he added. “”It’s very difficult to put your finger on.””

    Johnson said he still believes Arizona can still finish atop the Pac-10, adding that there is a huge sense of urgency within the program.

    “”We’re not where we want to be,”” Johnson said. “”We know we have to turn this thing around. …You’ve got to do it as soon as possible. Now is definitely the time.””

    Despite consistency problems, Johnson isn’t worried – yet.

    “”It means we’ve got to try to win the rest of the games. We’ve got to be Pac-10 champs,”” he said. “”Not many people probably would believe us, but we believe that we can do it.””

    Linebacker Spencer Larsen said the message resounding with the team is that “”it’s never as bad as you think it is.””

    “”And it’s never going to stay bad,”” he added. “”I think it’s a lesson that needs to be learned. You have to pick yourself up. Every player that’s ever played here has been very good at that because it happens over and over again, and it’s gotta stop eventually.””

    Stoops has been the most frustrated with the New Mexico loss of all the team’s mishaps this season. At his Monday press conference, he said he was still disappointed in himself for his decision-making at the end of the first half, as the Lobos scored a last-second touchdown.

    “”Anytime you have a great chance to win and don’t, especially in the situation we’ve been in, it hurts a lot, he said. “”I wish I had more answers. We seem to be so close, yet so far at times, and that’s hard to pinpoint.

    “”Our expectations are a lot difference. I guess that’s why we’re disappointed.””

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