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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Stoops disappointed, but optimistic”

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Head coach Mike Stoops looks on during his team?s stunning 36-33 defeat at the hands of the Washington Huskies Saturday. Stoops and Co. must develop a killer instinct if they hope to make a bowl game this season.

Forget about moving forward to next week, Saturday’s loss to Washington was heart-breaking enough to leave a player or coach in bed for a few days.

But there was head coach Mike Stoops in his weekly, Monday-morning press conference, taking blame for some play calls, commending both the Wildcats and Huskies for their efforts, pointing out the good things that Arizona did, and even cracking jokes to lighten the mood.

“”(I’m) still disappointed about what happened on Saturday, but I’m encouraged by a lot of things we did,”” he said. “”The way our kids prepared and the way we played, we’re fighting through some personnel issues, but to play that well for that long and not win was probably the most disappointing part of it all.””

Despite the loss, Arizona did a lot of good things throughout the contest. The Wildcats nearly doubled the Huskies in total yardage, total plays and total time of possession. Nick Foles continued to impress, completing 39-of-53 for 384 yards and scoring once through the air and once on the ground.

“”We just didn’t finish the game,”” Stoops added. “”We had some opportunities to really gain control throughout the game. We got down inside the red zone eight times and kicked four field goals and that hurt. We just didn’t play as well as we needed to. There’s a lot of things we still need to improve on.””

Catch or not, it was something unique

While there were several factors that led to the outcome, the easiest target to point a finger at is Mason Foster’s interception return for a touchdown off of Delashaun Dean’s foot.

It wasn’t an incredible play by Foster by any means, but more of a “”right place, right time”” type of play.

“”(The interception) was just an unfortunate thing that happened and we were on the wrong end of it,”” Stoops said. “”There were just some bad breaks. That’s part of football, but our kids have been very resilient.””

There’s been much debate over whether or not that ball hit the ground, or only Dean’s cleat, before it bounced into Foster’s hands and also whether Devin Ross forced a fumble in the first quarter.

Both plays were reviewed by the officiating crew, both worked against the Wildcats and both cited a lack of conclusive evidence.

Stoops was visibly upset on the sideline, but was much more composed on Monday morning.

“”They are what they call,”” Stoops said to questions about whether or not the results of the reviews were correct. “”There’s nothing you can do about it now, it is what it is.””

“”To me, their interpretation (of conclusive evidence) can be whatever they want it to be,”” Stoops added about the officials. “”What is indisputable evidence? To me, that’s still subjective. It is whatever you want to make it.””

Injury Update

This week was more of the same in a season mired with injuries. Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell was left off the traveling roster on Friday after he was hit in the head by a swinging door in the hallway of McKale Center. Stoops is unsure if Mitchell will play this week.

Running backs Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin and defensive end Brooks Reed are expected to play this week, although they all suited up against Washington and saw minimal playing time.

Guard Conan Amituanai left the game against the Huskies with a knee injury. Stoops said the hope is that it is just an MCL sprain that will keep him out for just 2-3 weeks, but they are awaiting results of an MRI that was administered on Monday afternoon.

On the bright side, wide receiver William “”Bug”” Wright is expected to suit up this week for the first time since arthroscopic knee surgery. Wright is expected to contribute to the passing game, as well as return to his role as punt returner. In his absence, the Wildcats are currently ranked dead last in the NCAA with -0.33 yards per punt return.

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