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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Moving forward means ignoring the recent past

    Tom Knauersenior staff writer
    Tom Knauer
    senior staff writer

    You can bet the Arizona football team is looking forward to playing Stephen F. Austin at home on Saturday.

    After the shellacking the team took in Louisiana State’s Death Valley this weekend, players are probably salivating at the thought of all the frustration they can let out against a D-I AA team that’s already fallen 45-7 to a Tulsa team that lost to Brigham Young 49-24 on Saturday.

    By that logic, the Wildcats could hang triple digits on the Lumberjacks.

    But that’s not the point. Getting some offensive momentum to use against Southern

    Getting some offensive momentum to use against Southern California in two weeks will certainly help prevent a blowout on the level of Arizona’s latest letdown.

    California in two weeks will certainly help prevent a blowout on the level of Arizona’s latest letdown.

    The more pressing issue, though, is wiping the team’s mental slate. And quickly.

    It helps that there are no more expectations for Arizona. There can’t be, with Willie Tuitama’s savior status going hit-by-hit with his battered person in the backfield.

    The lack of pressure, real and perceived, should only help the team this weekend and beyond.

    Recall the Wildcats’ season opener against the Cougars, which took place in a relatively controlled environment against a team from an inferior conference.

    The weight of expectations accumulated over months of waiting seemed to nearly bury Arizona before it got its bearings together and pulled out an exhilarating last-second win.

    That didn’t happen Saturday in one of the nation’s more difficult road environments against a vastly more talented team. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    So when the Wildcats take the field again in front of their home crowd at Arizona Stadium, everyone watching will hopefully know one thing.

    They, players included, should look at the product on the field and realize that it probably isn’t ready to make the same winning leap in head coach Mike Stoops’ third season that other Pacific 10 Conference schools – i.e., Washington State and California – have made after two consecutive poor seasons this decade.

    They should also know that the Wildcats still have just as good a chance to reach the postseason as they did before getting embarrassed and thoroughly outworked in front of a national television audience.

    Arizona hasn’t even hit its Pac-10 schedule, which, while chock full of probable losses (USC, at UCLA, California, at Oregon), contains many winnable games and holds the potential for the kind of upsets – another Bruin beatdown, anyone? – the team would love to have had by now.

    It had nothing of the sort as of 6:31 p.m. Saturday. That’s just the reality of the situation.

    LSU was supposed to be a loss. Was there any question that the Wildcats wouldn’t waltz right into Tiger Stadium and waddle their way out, heads down in dejection?

    As they stand, the Wildcats are .500, and with a win Saturday, they would have their first winning record after three games since 2002.

    Yeah, yeah – that team finished 4-8, and this one has designs on a least a couple more wins than that.

    But it’s the bright side of a suddenly murky season outlook, a perspective Arizona hopefully kept in mind on the flight home from Baton Rouge.

    Tom Knauer is a journalism senior. He can be reached at

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