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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Limiting turnovers crucial to Wildcats’ bowl chances

    Pardon the Wildcats for being extra frustrated after a disappointing performance in a 36-28 road loss to New Mexico.

    After all, they did hand the Lobos game. Literally.

    While posting a turnover ratio of + 4 and point differential of + 95 in the first two games – albeit against lesser competition than New Mexico – Arizona had a ratio of – 4 in Saturday’s eight-point loss, and that cost them the game.

    “”You’re not going to win any games like that,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”That’s something that we want to pride ourselves on is not beating ourselves and turning the ball over. You just won’t have many chances to win.””

    And the chances get slimmer if an opponent coverts those mistakes into as many points as the Lobos did in Albuquerque, 19, and it could have been worse if not for a second straight game of stout goal line defense by Arizona.

    Part of the problem for the rash of turnovers could be that Arizona was pressing the issue too much as it was trying to get back into the game after falling behind early, said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes.

    “”I think that’s the thing that happens sometimes is you get behind a little bit and then you try to do too much,”” Dykes said. “”I think (quarterback) Willie (Tuitama), especially, was trying to make a play to help the team and he’s just got to do a better job of staying within the framework of what we’re doing.””

    There are a myriad of potential reasons behind the miscues, but only one thing is certain – Arizona can’t win enough games to become bowl eligible if it continues to treat the ball in such a haphazard fashion.

    No one knows this better than Tuitama, a senior. He was responsible for four of the five Arizona turnovers – two fumbles and two picks. Dykes said players “”can’t try to make plays when they’re not there”” and Tuitama was guilty of that at times on Saturday. But, Tutitama knows he must improve his decision-making if he wants to lead the Wildcats’ into the bowl season.

    “”I just kind of learned from (the turnovers) and moved on,”” Tuitama said. “”One thing we didn’t do was give up. Throughout the whole game we kept trying to move the ball and score and that’s one thing I was real proud of.””

    Perhaps the Wildcats’ signal caller could have been prouder if he allowed the team to punt more often – which Dykes said is “”the second best thing an offense can do.””

    “”I certainly don’t like (punting) and I know (the players) don’t like doing it, but it is,”” Dykes said. “”We play good enough defense to where if we don’t turn the ball over our guys are gonna stop them. … We’ve just got to learn from that and realize that we don’t have to go out and score 45 points to win.””

    No matter what happens in the Wildcats’ nine Pacific 10 Conference games, turnovers can’t be the name of the game if they want to post their first winning season under Stoops.

    “”(Tuitama) will bounce back, he’ll play better,”” Dykes said. “”We probably need to run the ball a little bit more in those types of situations.

    “”He’s just got to make better decisions and understand that all he’s got to do is just execute our offense,”” Dykes added. “”Don’t do anything special and just let those guys go out and make plays.””

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