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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Reloaded Trojans invade UA

    UA junior cornerback Wilrey Fontenot and USC senior wide receiver Steve Smith fight it out as the ball drops to the ground in last years game at the Coliseum. Smith and Fontenot are sure to see a lot more of each other tomorrow when USC and Arizona clash at Arizona Stadium.
    UA junior cornerback Wilrey Fontenot and USC senior wide receiver Steve Smith fight it out as the ball drops to the ground in last year’s game at the Coliseum. Smith and Fontenot are sure to see a lot more of each other tomorrow when USC and Arizona clash at Arizona Stadium.

    When asked Monday what lessons the Arizona football team learned from its 45-3 loss to then-No. 8 Louisiana State that it plans to apply to tomorrow’s matchup with No. 3 USC, UA head coach Mike Stoops got his words out quicker than a Dwayne Jarrett curl pattern.

    “”You better be mentally and physically 100 percent into the game,”” he said, “”or you don’t have a chance against these teams.””

    Stoops’ words may reflect the guarded optimism of the Wildcats (2-1), who face their second national top-10 team of the season but the first at Arizona Stadium when they host the Trojans (3-0) at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

    While the memory of the team’s Tiger mauling in Baton Rouge, La., two weeks ago is still fresh, Stoops said players can look back critically on their lack of preparation for that game, as well as the positives they showed in their 42-21 loss at USC last season.

    Although the Trojans put up more than 700 yards of offense, the Wildcats remained within a touchdown until the fourth quarter.

    In fact, the game stayed in reach for Arizona until about 10 minutes remained, when an interception by then-starting quarterback Richard Kovalcheck – the Wildcats’ only turnover of the game – effectively ended the team’s hopes for an epic upset.

    Stoops said the team has a shot at a repeat close performance tomorrow, but even inadvertent mishaps are out of the equation.

    “”We can’t turn the ball over in this game. We can’t turn it over one time,”” he said. “”We have to play close to the best we can and put ourselves in position to win. That’s what we’re gunning for.””

    Arizona’s current roster and coaching staff likely weren’t around Tucson Nov. 7, 1992, the last time the Wildcats took down a national top-five team at home (16-3 over No. 1 Washington).

    But if memory is the team’s motivation vehicle of choice, Arizona has last year’s 52-14 win over then-No. 7 UCLA to recall with fondness.

    The Bruins came in undefeated but left humiliated on Homecoming, as the Wildcats rode a 28-0 second-quarter lead to what was by far their biggest victory in Stoops’ two-plus seasons.

    “”That created a big shock to the whole city,”” said senior safety Michael Johnson. “”Everybody was just amped up and wired up after that big win. It just brings life into our team and the city.””

    Tight end Brandyn McCall said the team will be throwing around memories of that Bruin beat-down in the locker room before meeting USC.

    “”That’s the exact thing: ‘We did it before, we’ll do it again,'”” he said.

    To do so, Arizona will have to overcome a Trojans squad that suffered significant offseason losses but still figures to be just as loaded in talent as any of their teams under head coach Pete Carroll.

    The biggest shifts in the roster came at USC’s offensive skill positions, where the team has had to replace two Heisman Trophy winners.

    John David Booty is getting his turn at quarterback after spending two years behind current Arizona Cardinal Matt Leinart, who won the award in 2004.

    A trio of running backs – junior Chauncey Washington and freshmen Emmanuel Moody and C.J. Gable – have split carries in lieu of LenDale White and Reggie Bush, who took the Heisman last year.

    “”They’re going to throw out a little different (look with) formations,”” said linebacker Marcus Hollingsworth. “”They don’t have (players) like they had with Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, but they do have some good other (players), John David Booty and their running backs. I think they’re going to come out and do the same kind of offense they had last year.””

    Besides the team’s front seven, which boasts four of a collection of six linebackers who started last season, the team is also potent in its receiving corps.

    The group is headed by the junior Jarrett, who singed Arizona for 116 yards and two touchdowns last year and is poised to break almost every significant USC receiving record by the end of the season.

    Paul Phillip, a redshirt senior defensive tackle, said that while the Trojans had their way with the Wildcats in the passing game last year, he thinks Arizona’s defense has improved enough since then to succeed playing give-and-take.

    “”We’ll give them the short stuff,”” he said. “”We just got to keep it all within the game.””

    If the Wildcats can find a way to make their past errors work to their advantage, tomorrow’s game could become another breakthrough to remember.

    Or another sordid lesson to rehash Monday.

    “”We’re lucky enough to get an opportunity to play two top-10 teams,”” Johnson said. “”We want to make a statement by beating one.””

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