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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Kish debuts against UCLA

Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 15 Wildcats took on the UCLA Bruins in a Pacific 10 Conference college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Arizona held off a late fourth-quarter push to beat the home team 29-21.

Arizona interim head coach Tim Kish makes his head-coaching debut tonight when the Wildcats host UCLA at 6 p.m. at Arizona Stadium.

Arizona is looking for its first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision school since Oct. 30, 2010 at UCLA, a stretch that’s seen Arizona lose 10 straight games to FBS foes.

But Kish said that the Wildcats (1-5, 0-4 Pac-12) have put the winless streak behind them and are looking at the second half of 2011 as a new beginning.

“We kind of trashed that,” Kish said. “We put that away. We’re focused on a new journey right now. It starts one day at a time for us and that’s what we’re thinking.”

Since taking over for former head coach Mike Stoops on Oct. 10, Kish has put an emphasis on bringing the fun back into the game.

Each coach wore a different-style hat at Tuesday’s practice, and the mood at practice has been looser the past two weeks. Kish said he expects the atmosphere to be a little different on the sideline during tonight’s nationally televised showdown with UCLA (3-3, 2-1).

“I’ll probably have a little different demeanor,” said Kish, who’s returning to the sideline after coaching the last several games from the press box.

For UCLA, the matchup with Arizona comes as questions about Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel’s job security continue to trickle out of Los Angeles.

But even though he’s facing off against a program that just fired its head coach, Neuheisel said that he isn’t feeling any pressure about his job, and neither is his team.

“Maybe that’s naïve on my part, maybe that’s early onset of some sort of dementia,” Neuheisel said. “I don’t know. I’m just enjoying coaching this football team and trying to keep ourselves in the race.”

With a win tonight, UCLA would move into a first-place tie in the Pac-12 South at 3-1 with both ASU, which doesn’t play this week, and USC, which is facing non-conference foe Notre Dame.

The Bruins have battled inconsistency on the field since Neuheisel took over in December 2007, and Arizona is 3-0 against UCLA since that time. But UCLA is still one of the more talented teams in the conference, and Arizona outside receivers coach Dave Nichol said the Bruin defense can accurately be compared to the Wildcat offense.

“They’re still real talented,” Nichol said. “If they get hot and they get some confidence, that always worries you — kind of how we’ve been on offense. I’m sure sometimes we’re scary, but we need to be a little more scary than we have been.”

The biggest part of Arizona’s offense is senior quarterback Nick Foles, who was named one of 10 finalists for the 2011 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award on Wednesday.

Despite defenses being able to focus on stopping the Wildcat passing attack because of Arizona’s inconsistent rush offense, Foles is just 745 passing yards away from a 3,000-yard season, which has been accomplished just four times in Arizona history including Foles’ 2010 season.

As for the rest of the team, Kish said that Arizona needs to get back to playing fundamentally sound football to have a shot to knock off UCLA and put a dash in the Bruins’ hopes of winning the Pac-12 South title.

“They’ve got some really good players on the defensive side of the ball,” Kish said. “They’re good on special teams, they’re good across the board. We’ve just got to execute.”

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