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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“New coaches, attitude spark 2010 Arizona football campaign”

For the first time since the 33-0 drubbing at the hands of Nebraska in the 2009 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, the Arizona Wildcats took the field to welcome the 2010 season.

“”We’re excited to get back and working on the field,”” said head coach Mike Stoops in a press conference on Friday. “”We have some pretty big holes to fill but we feel really strongly about the some of our players that we have in our program.””

There are plenty of changes for the Wildcats this year, but perhaps the most underrated — and important — is the change in attitude.

Stoops said there’s no question the team is more confident. “”You look at the way we played the entire season and how we matched up with every team and had a chance to win all 12 games,”” he added. “”That’s hard to do.””

For 10 years, Arizona failed to reach a bowl game, but, in 2008, it won the Las Vegas Bowl. That following spring, the ‘Cats were still living on that excitement, and the enthusiasm translated into a second-place finish in the Pacific 10 Conference and a trip to the Holiday Bowl.

Despite the embarrassing loss, Arizona enters this season with a sense of pride that the program hasn’t had in a very long time.

“”We had a lot of good wins,”” Stoops said. “”Everyone forgets about (wins over) Stanford, everybody forgets about Oregon State, everybody forgets about USC. You don’t beat those teams without being good and having a good program.””

Coordinators excited about new roles

Replacing successful coordinators like Sonny Dykes and Mark Stoops puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the men who step in, so head coach Mike Stoops decided to place that burden on four guys rather than two.

It’s a little unorthodox, yes, but, Stoops stands behind the decision: “”I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think it could work.””

Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell will run the offense. Both were on staff last year as offensive line coach and running backs/tight ends coach, respectively.

While the role of play-caller has yet to be decided, Bedenbaugh and Littrell are confident that the transition from Dykes — who left to be the head coach at Louisiana Tech — will be smooth.

“”Seth (Littrell) and I have known each other for a long time,”” Bedenbaugh said. “”Everything up to this point has been great, and it’s going to continue to be great.

“”We’ve been in this offense. We know what we want to do. We think alike. We want to run the same things.””

Littrell echoed Bedenbaugh’s thoughts.

“”I think the biggest thing to ease the transition is that we’ve all been together for a long time,”” Littrell said. “”We’ve all been in this offense for a while. No wholesale changes (in the offensive scheme), we may do things a little differently here and there, but our biggest thing is to spread the ball around to as many different positions and make defenses honest and make them cover the whole field.””

The two showed solid chemistry during the press conference on Friday, seamlessly taking turns fielding questions from the media and never speaking over one another despite meeting with the media together for the first time.

On the defensive side, linebackers coach Tim Kish and Greg Brown, the secondary coach at Colorado last year, will join forces to replace Mark Stoops, who took the defensive coordinator job at Florida State.

Brown, the only one of the four new coordinators who wasn’t with Arizona last season, said the decision to come to Tucson was easy.

“”It’s a great opportunity to be here at the University of Arizona,”” Brown said. “”It was easy, it took all of two seconds. When Coach Stoops called up and mentioned that his brother Mark was looking at taking another job and he said, ‘Do you want it?’ and I said yes, that was it. Just the fact that where he’s taken this program from and what he’s been able to do on defense and accomplish on defense, it was a complete no-brainer.””

Kish added that his relationship with Brown will work well, especially considering Mike Stoops will have a say in the defense.

“”Coach (Stoops) is always going to be involved on defense, so nothing changes there, and that’s good,”” Kish said. “”Having his expertise there certainly helps. We’re excited. There’s no egos here between Greg and I. All we want to is develop this group because we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us and we need to replace a lot of starters.””

Replacing seven starters might seem like a daunting task, but both Kish and Brown seem more than ready for the challenge.

“”That’s the name of the game in college football, and every day is going to be critical in the spring,”” Brown said. “”We can’t waste a single rep, can’t waste a single period, we just need to get better.””

Depth chart notes

The depth chart heading into spring was revealed on Friday, with a few noteworthy changes.

On the offensive line, sixth-year senior Adam Grant will move over to left tackle to replace Mike Diaz, who was lost to graduation. The rest of the line, anchored by center Colin Baxter, remains intact.

On defense, Marcus Benjamin is listed as the starter to replace the departed Devin Ross. It was speculated that strong safety Robert Golden might move over to corner — his original position — and Joe Perkins would step in at strong safety, but instead Golden is staying there and Perkins is listed as the starter at free safety. Adam Hall, a high-rated recruit who saw minimal playing time as a freshman last season, is currently second on the depth chart at free safety.

However, while a depth chart in March is interesting, the piece of paper it’s on right now will be about as useful as scrap paper by September.

Holiday Bowl explanation?

The debacle in San Diego has been well documented, but the reason for such an embarrassing showing has been relatively unknown.

Some speculated that Arizona wasn’t ready, some pessimists believed that Arizona wasn’t good enough to compete, but cornerback Trevin Wade said that the 33-0 loss was because of a lack of focus that stemmed from the team not wanting to be there.

“”People wanted to go home for Christmas and see their families,”” Wade said. “”I know it’s all business and everything, but we’re still college kids and people wanted to go home. Had they given us a couple days, people would have come back happy and ready to go.””

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