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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Jennings could start as running back against USC

    UA head coach Mike Stoops roams the sidelines at Arizona Stadium Saturday as the Wildcats pushed their record to 2-1 with a 28-10 victory over Stephen F. Austin. Stoops and company have a more daunting task ahead next week against USC, a team the Wildcats havent beat since 2000.
    UA head coach Mike Stoops roams the sidelines at Arizona Stadium Saturday as the Wildcats pushed their record to 2-1 with a 28-10 victory over Stephen F. Austin. Stoops and company have a more daunting task ahead next week against USC, a team the Wildcats haven’t beat since 2000.

    Fresh off a 201-yard performance, junior running back Chris Jennings may find himself on the top of the depth chart Saturday against No. 3 USC.

    Even though normal starter Chris Henry returned to practice yesterday after a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules, Jennings could get the nod because of his solid performance against Stephen F. Austin despite a sore left foot that forced the running back to wear a boot during and after practice.

    “”The game comes pretty easy to him,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said of his sudden star during his weekly press conference yesterday. “”Chris Jennings really earned a spot in my eyes after the way he played on Saturday. … We’re always going to reward strong play.””

    Though his performance wasn’t flawless, Stoops was pleased with the way Jennings handled such a big workload on such short notice.

    “”He made some mistakes here and there, but he carried 26 times. That’s a lot to carry for a guy,”” Stoops said. “”He got a little tired in the second half, but he ran the ball well.””

    Still, Stoops warned not to read too much into a potential reshuffling of the depth chart at running back.

    “”Whether Chris Henry or Chris Jennings starts, I don’t know – it’s irrelevant to me,”” he said. “”We’ll see how they practice this week.””

    Barnett on the mend, Bell out

    On the injury front, Arizona could get a much-needed boost on the defensive line from the return of defensive tackle Yaniv Barnett.

    Barnett, who hyper-extended his shoulder against No. 10 Louisiana State Sept. 9, is expected to be available against the Trojans, with Stoops anticipating the junior to return to full practice tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, offensive tackle Tanner Bell, who’s been hampered by injuries throughout his career at Arizona, has been battling a concussion and its after-effects this season.

    “”I don’t know if it’s post-concussion syndrome or something of that nature,”” Stoops said. “”I’m not going to rule him out for the season. Hopefully at some point he’ll be able to come back.””

    Bell, who has been slowed by injuries since fall camp, hasn’t played at all this season and didn’t even make the trip to Baton Rouge, La., to play LSU two weeks ago.

    Dennard rejoins team

    Junior wideout B.J. Dennard returned to the team yesterday a week after leaving for personal reasons, team spokesman Matt Rector said yesterday.

    Dennard, who had one catch against Brigham Young earlier this season, has nine career receptions for 97 yards.

    Trojan lore

    This week’s opponent – four-time defending conference champion USC – is a bit different from last week’s – Division I-AA SFA – and with that comes an added lore.

    “”They’ve got the white horse, and about 100 years of tradition doesn’t hurt,”” Stoops said. “”They’ve got the Coliseum. They (have a) storied past. … It just makes you a great program.””

    With a program that has produced 27 NFL draft picks in the past five seasons, including 11 last year, USC has become known as somewhat of a football factory.

    “”They’re a great system team,”” Stoops said. “”They don’t waver from what they do. … It’s like a farm system. They just keep bringing (talented players) on.””

    White horse or not, junior tight end Brandyn McCall didn’t buy into the Trojan lore.

    “”We’ve played them every year, so it’s not ‘awe.’ It’s just another good team,”” he said. “”We played LSU, they’re a great team. … We’ll be OK.””

    Stoops also spoke about Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, the nation’s winningest active head coach (56-10 in six years at USC) with at least five years of experience.

    “”It’s not about him. It’s about the team, and that’s a great lesson, to have that many stars on the team,”” Stoops said. “”I think that’s the mark of a great coach; to keep his kids hungry and humble to play at that level is probably what I think separates the great ones.””

    Searching for the ‘edge’

    After Saturday’s 28-10 win over SFA, Stoops mentioned that sometimes his team plays to the level of its competition. Though last week it hurt Arizona, this week it’s something the coach is banking on.

    “”Coming back home and opening the Pac-10 season, I’d hope our kids would be excited and play on edge,”” Stoops said. “”I don’t think our kids played on edge the other night (against SFA). Defense is a game of playing on emotion and enthusiasm. … It’s going to be critical that we play a very inspired and emotional game (against USC).””

    Said nickelback Marcus Hollingsworth: “”That’s every defense. If you don’t play like that, you might as well not even come out to play. Every defense has to play with an edge. … If you’re coming out flat, you’ll get your butt kicked.””

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