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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wildcats seek revenge on Lobos

    UA wide receiver Mike Thomas (10) tries to wriggle free from the grasp of New Mexicos Jerome Jenkins (24) in last years 29-27 Lobo win at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats look to return the favor in Saturdays game in Albuquerque at 5 p.m.
    UA wide receiver Mike Thomas (10) tries to wriggle free from the grasp of New Mexico’s Jerome Jenkins (24) in last year’s 29-27 Lobo win at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats look to return the favor in Saturday’s game in Albuquerque at 5 p.m.

    Arizona at New Mexico

    Following New Mexico’s 29-27 victory over Arizona last year at Arizona Stadium, the Lobos had a strong sense of achievement. After all, New Mexico, a Mountain West Conference team, knocked off a Pacific 10 Conference team on the road.

    As time slowly ticked off the clock toward the Lobo victory, an assortment of New Mexico players stood on their bench facing the Arizona crowd and proceeded to taunt the Wildcat faithful.

    Statements like, “”The Pac-10 doesn’t want you,”” and, “”You can’t compete with the Mountain West,”” riled up the Arizona crowd but nothing could be done. The Wildcats lost.

    The Arizona players haven’t forgotten the pivotal nonconference loss and, more importantly, the Lobos’ actions following the game. So when Arizona (2-0) invades Albuquerque on Saturday to take on New Mexico (0-2) having won its first two games under head coach Mike Stoops for the first time in his tenure, the Wildcats certainly have revenge on their minds.

    “”It was a pretty bad game for us because we should have won that game, and they ran off the field like it was the Super Bowl or something,”” said running back Nic Grigsby. “”It was pretty bad, so we are going to go over there and we are going to show them what we are really about this year.

    “”A lot of teams do that to get to our heads,”” Grigsby added of the taunting from the opposition. “”They know what happened last year was a fluke and we are going to come back this year and put it on them.””

    When scheduling the UA’s nonconference opponents, the goal in mind was to make sure the Wildcats get all three of the games before Pac-10 play kicks off in order to improve their chances of making a bowl game for the first time since 1998.

    The Wildcats seem to have turned the corner in their first two wins over Idaho and Toledo, but going on the road for the first time could pose new challenges for the Wildcats.

    “”Three wins is three wins no matter who you get them against,”” said center Blake Kerley. “”Every game has to be fought hard for and it doesn’t matter who you play, and the fact that we have two under our belt now and we have a chance to have three is always good going into Pac-10 (competition).””

    If New Mexico is known for anything in Tucson – aside from its behavior following their victory over Arizona last year – it is their unorthodox blitzing schemes on defense.

    The Lobos utilize a rover that moves from place to place on defense with plans of attacking via the blitz in a variety of different ways from a handful of different places.

    Given that Arizona must protect quarterback Willie Tuitama in the pocket to be success, protection from New Mexico’s blitz will be key in order for Arizona to find any offensive rhythm like they have in their first two games.

    UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes is aware of this challenge and has prepared his offense accordingly.

    “”The thing about (the New Mexico defense) is (that) their whole thought process is to make you adjust to them, and they are unorthodox and they are different than anybody else you’re going to see,”” Dykes said. “”That’s what they do and they’re good at it. It’s a funny deal; they show you a million different looks, but they’re really sound in their coverage.””

    Kerley’s job just got a lot tougher. The center is in charge of keeping track of New Mexico’s rover and communicating to the other lineman Arizona’s blocking scheme.

    When facing a defense that diverse, it certainly is not an easy undertaking.

    “”I don’t know if it is the trickiest, but it’s close,”” Kerley said of New Mexico’s defense. “”They do everything if you have ever seen them on the football field. … The biggest thing is us preparing for what we have seen and being ready for what we haven’t seen.””

    Being in the position Arizona is currently in – remaining undefeated – and coupled with the emotion stemming from the “”revenge”” factor from a year ago, the Wildcats are certainly eager for their rematch with the Lobos.

    “”We are just angry,”” Tuitama said. “”We have waited a long time for this game and we just have to make sure we stay focused and concentrate on things we do out here every day and take that into the game on Saturday.””

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