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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

On the prowl for Cougars

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats opened Pacific 10 Conference play against the University of California on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rallied from a six-point deficit and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes to edge the Golden Bears 10-9.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats opened Pacific 10 Conference play against the University of California on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rallied from a six-point deficit and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes to edge the Golden Bears 10-9.

There’s no question that Arizona lost some respect after its lackluster performance against Oregon State last Saturday.

But with the humbling loss nearly a week removed, the only course of action is to rebound and take back that respect with a convincing victory against Pac-10 bottom-feeder Washington State Saturday night in Pullman, Wash.

“”It’s back to the proving grounds,”” said co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown. “”We’re back to square one, and we’ve got to fight to earn some respect, because we definitely lost it a week ago. Our guys know that, and our backs are to the wall.””

After surrendering 393 passing yards and almost 500 yards of total offense against the Beavers, no unit has more to prove than the defense — particularly the secondary.

Arizona’s defense was shredded by OSU quarterback Ryan Katz, and linebacker Derek Earls said, “”I don’t think everybody was really focused last game.””

But the Wildcats’ secondary is back to prove that they aren’t as bad as they looked last Saturday, as they hit the road for the first time in 43 days against the 1-5 Cougars.

“”We still feel like we’ve got one of the top secondaries in the nation. We just got to go out there and challenge the receivers, and that’s what we plan on doing,”” said junior cornerback Robert Golden.

Golden said the secondary plans to be “”more aggressive”” in its coverage and will “”challenge receivers on the short routes.””

The Wildcats have their hands full with an improved Cougars passing attack led by sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel. Wazzu averages 252 passing yards per game, fifth in the conference, and has a pair of top-notch receivers in true freshman Marquess Wilson and junior Jared Karstetter.

The Cougars should expect to see a slightly modified Arizona secondary after James Rodgers and company burned the Wildcats deep time and time again.

But Brown wasn’t ready to admit what those slight changes would be.

“”I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,”” he said with a smile.

Regardless of how Arizona lines up defensively, it needs a bounce-back game worse than ever. Quarterback Nick Foles and the offense should have no problem against a Washington State team that surrenders a Pac-10 worst 42.8 points per game.

The Cougars rank dead last in the conference in scoring defense and rushing defense (254.7 yards per game) while landing eighth in pass defense (262.8 yards

per game).

But again, the Arizona offense that is one of the best in the Pac-10 isn’t the group that has something to prove Saturday night at 4:30.

“”It’s a big redemption game for us,”” Earls said.

“”I think we just need to come back and play a lot harder,”” he added. “”After a big loss, you’ve got to come back a lot more focused, and I think that’s what people are doing.””

Head coach Mike Stoops said his team has responded “”really positively”” to the loss in practice this week, but whether or not they learned from the loss will be seen at the Martin Stadium against Wazzu.

“”It seems like (Arizona is hungrier after the loss), but the proof will be on Saturday,”” Brown said. “”We’re out here, and it looks like we’re progressing, but we’ll find out Saturday.””

Given the immense difference in talent and win-loss record, Arizona is clearly expected to take care of the Cougars on the road Saturday. But the road game in

Pullman is the first step in a bigger goal for the Wildcats.

“”It’s still early in the season, so everybody knows we still have a chance to do something that’s never been done here at Arizona,”” Golden said. “”We’ve got to bounce back from this loss.””

 

Injury report

CB Trevin Wade: The junior missed two days of practice this week after taking a helmet to the thigh during the Oregon State loss. But Wade is healthy enough to start against the Cougars.

“”He practiced today, so he’s good to go,”” head coach Mike Stoops said Wednesday. “”We feel good about Trevin.””

WR William “”Bug”” Wright: The inside receiver is questionable with a shoulder injury and missed the first three days of this week’s practice. It’s unlikely that Wright will play.

G Vaughn Dotsy: The junior offensive lineman is out with a back injury.

Arizona vs. Washington State Preview

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, running back Nic Grigsby and linebacker Derek Earls talk to the media about Saturday’s game against Washington State.

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