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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats won’t look past Wazzu

    UA running back Nic Grigsby attempts to break a tackle from Washington States Husain Abdullah in last years 48-20 win over the Cougars at Arizona Stadium. Despite being 39-point favorites heading into Saturdays game in Pullman, Wash., the Wildcats wont take their opponent lightly.
    UA running back Nic Grigsby attempts to break a tackle from Washington State’s Husain Abdullah in last year’s 48-20 win over the Cougars at Arizona Stadium. Despite being 39-point favorites heading into Saturday’s game in Pullman, Wash., the Wildcats won’t take their opponent lightly.

    Arizona football head coach Mike Stoops has made a point to avoid worrying about the past over the course of the season.

    While the Wildcats have been more successful this year than they have ever been under Stoops, the past has suddenly become relevant.

    For members of the Wildcats from 2006, the memories of winning six games and being left out of a bowl game still linger, but nonetheless have become essential to keeping their mentality the same when preparing to play against a team it is expected to beat.

    So when Arizona travels to Pullman, Wash., on Saturday to take on one of the weakest teams in any of the six BCS conferences in Washington State, winning its sixth game and becoming bowl eligible isn’t something that the Wildcats are talking about.

    “”We don’t talk (about becoming bowl eligible) and we don’t really think about it either,”” said UA offensive guard Joe Longacre. “”Six games doesn’t even mean anything to me. Seven is relaxing, but it’s not where I want to be. Seven is the number I am more concerned about, because I remember (being left out) a couple years ago.””

    With losses this season to New Mexico and Stanford, the common theme following those blunders was a similar feeling of accomplishment and over-confidence prior to each game.

    Washington State could lull them into the same kind

    of feeling.

    When looking over Washington State’s resume, one that consists of just one win over Division I-AA Portland State, it is going to be extra tough for the Wildcats not to succumb to over-confidence and relaxation.

    Opponents have dominated the Cougars (1-8, 0-6 Pacific 10 Conference) throughout the season, evident in the scoring margin. So far this season, WSU has yielded almost four times as many points as the team has scored – 443-111 – and lost by an average of almost 37 points per game.

    Lately, Washington State has been outscored 127-0 in back-to-back losses to No. 7 USC and Stanford, respectively, and has suffered blowout losses to Oregon (63-14), UCLA (28-3) and Oregon State (66-13).

    Arizona is rarely a favorite on the road, but entering this weekend, Arizona finds itself as 39-point favorites.

    “”They have had troubles in a lot of different areas,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops in his weekly press conference Monday. “”But that doesn’t mean they are not capable of putting something together and that’s not something that we can afford to overlook in any way.””

    To ensure the Wildcats will be properly equipped for the game against Washington State, Stoops began preparing for the Cougars last week.

    With Arizona’s pride and joy residing on its capabilities offensively, the Wildcats have practiced hard on how to exploit the Cougars defense that has allowed an all-time season record 350 points in Pac-10 play – and three games remaining on its conference schedule.

    Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said the Wildcats will try to jump on the Cougars early to prevent Washington State from gaining much-needed confidence.

    “”They are in a little bit of a transition with a new coach (Paul Wulff) and staff and sometimes that can happen, and they have had some injuries and kind of been beat up and had bad luck,”” Dykes said. “”It is just going to be important for us to keep the pressure on them and get off to a good start.

    “”The thing that you can’t do when a team hasn’t played well is you can’t let them hang around and start feeling good about themselves,”” Dykes added. “”Because if you do, you will be in for a dog fight, and I am sure they are hungry and they are going to want to play good against us.””

    Given Washington State’s struggles with stopping rushing attacks – including Stanford’s 344 rushing yards on the ground last week – the Cougars have loaded the box while leaving the defensive backs in man coverage.

    With Arizona known as a pass-first team, Dykes said it will continue to try and run the ball and hurt the Cougars the same way teams in the past have, but throwing the ball won’t be an issue, either.

    The type of numbers Washington State has put up this season will make it hard for the Arizona offense not to lick its chops.

    “”They are giving quite a bit of yards rushing, so what they are going to try and do now is get the rushing numbers down a bit by getting more people in the box,”” Dykes said. “”That’s going to be a challenge for us by trying to win some man-on-man coverage on the outside, so we will have to do a good job getting (the receivers) the ball so they can make plays.””

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