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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Golden chance for ‘Cats

    Before the Arizona football team traveled to Palo Alto, Calif., last weekend to take on Stanford, the Wildcats were sitting pretty.

    Arizona was 4-1 overall, undefeated in Pacific 10 Conference, sitting atop many statistical categories, and was poised to continue an unexpected conference run.

    A loss to the Cardinal has changed it all.

    When Arizona (4-2, 1-1 Pac-10 Conference) takes on No. 25 California (4-1, 2-0) at Arizona Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m., the Wildcats won’t be worried about anything except saving the season from going down that same dreaded path the Wildcat faithful has grown accustomed to seeing.

    “”We weren’t far off in that game, I promise you,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops of the loss to Stanford. “”It is disheartening that we lost, but I am not displeased with the way the kids played.””

    Almost a week since the loss to the Cardinal, the Wildcats have been raving about the energy and enthusiasm in practice – perhaps the most encouraging set of practices this season.

    Undoubtedly a good sign for Stoops, Arizona has a made a point of moving forward in an attempt to regain control of its season.

    “”When you get knocked on your butt and you go in there and lose a game, you expect to win and you want to win, it kind of stirs up a little juice,”” said senior wideout Mike Thomas. “”When the juice has been stirred up a little bit you need to come out here and put forth some intensity and get ready for the week.””

    While the Wildcats have remained focused on their vast improvement from last year – Arizona started off 2-4 last season – a 2008 season that once looked very promising may be turning in the wrong direction.

    Despite sitting in a fourth-place tie in the Pac-10 heading into tomorrow’s game against the Golden Bears, Arizona currently finds itself in a desperate situation.

    In danger of letting the season slip away with California in town and next weekend’s game against No. 6 USC, Arizona more than likely needs to win at least one of those games to stay competitive in the conference.

    If not, Arizona could fall to 4-4 and put itself back down toward the cellar of the conference, severely altering its path toward a bowl game.

    Even so, the players said they don’t feel any pressure in terms of a “”must win”” against Cal.

    “”We are doing good things, and last week it was all about the inches,”” said quarterback Willie Tuitama, who received a scholarship offer from the Golden Bears. “”We were so close in so many different ways and so many different plays, but we had our opportunities, and we just didn’t capitalize on it.””

    If the Wildcats intend to turn things around, their task of beating Cal may be tough to manage, especially given that the team is arguably the toughest squad Arizona will have seen so far this season.

    California, which is first in the Pac-10, has proven to be one of the top teams in the conference.

    The Golden Bears pose a threat offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes isn’t taking lightly.

    “”They’re going to be a big challenge,”” Dykes said. “”They do a good job defensively and probably (have) the most team speed that we’ve played against this year, without a doubt.””

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