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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcat Cheat Sheet Sept. 22: College Game Day, Rich Rod on Scooby and UCLA

Sally Lynx / The Daily Wildcat
The Ghosts exhibition is on display at the University of Arizona’s Joseph Gross Gallery. The exhibition features the work of Ralph Ziman, a South African artist working to bring the realities of the African arms trade to light.

The calm before the storm is finally over. The storm, of course, is the race for the Pac-12 South title and a chance to play in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game in Santa Clara, Calif., on Dec. 5.

The No. 16 Wildcats will begin that race on prime time TV when No. 9 UCLA visits Tucson Saturday night. The game will be aired on ABC and ESPN’s College GameDay will be present.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez spoke Monday at his press conference about the importance of this week’s game.

“As I told the team, you can sense the big game feel on campus this week,” Rodriguez said. “It’s going to be there. GameDay is coming to town; there will be a lot of buzz about it all week. It’s a conference play in the same division against a highly rated, undefeated team. I told them, I think you come play Division I football with this kind of atmosphere and game in mind, and they get to do it early in the season.”

Arizona is coming off a 77-13 blowout of NAU. The Bruins squeaked out a 24-23 win over No. 22 ranked BYU the same night. Both teams are coming into the game at 3-0 with a chance to make a splash in the Pac-12 Conference and the national stage.

The Pac-12 already has experienced a shakeup this season. Stanford upset then No. 6 USC in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum by a score of 41-31. Now that ASU and USC have both suffered early losses, the Pac-12 South race has been blown wide open.

UCLA has defeated the Wildcats the past three seasons.

“[The defense] is probably faster now,” Rodriguez said. “Looking at them on film, this is probably one of the most athletic teams in our league and they may be a little bit faster this year than they were a year ago.”

Rodriguez says he is still looking at the film to see what BYU did well against UCLA. The Bruins will also be coming into town with a true freshman quarterback in Josh Rosen.

“Rosen’s a really good player. Everybody in the country wanted him and they got 10 starters around him including one of the best backs in the country,” Rodriguez said. “He played really well in the second half.”

Scooby Wright III’s status for Saturday is still unclear. The All-American linebacker is still recovering from a knee injury that he suffered in the Wildcats’ opener against UTSA.

“He’s doing well,” Rodriguez said. “He has not practiced in two weeks. We didn’t do much yesterday; we just did a walkthrough. It really determines if he can do anything this week—[Tuesday’s] practice, Wednesdays practice. Certainly, he won’t be going full [Tuesday], but if he can a little bit this week, then he has a chance on Saturday.”

Rodriguez also said he won’t know the full story on Wright until later this week.

Backup quarterback Jerrard Randall, who had 72-yard and 73-yard touchdown runs against NAU will also see some time at wide receiver, Rodriguez said.

“We started it a few weeks ago,” Rodriguez said. “This guy is an explosive player and one of the fastest guys on the team, and he’s a quarterback. So he probably knows what the wide outs do, at least you hope so. We’ve got to give him more reps there. As the season goes along, until Trey Griffey comes back and Tyrell Johnson comes back, he’s going to have a role there.”

Essentially, Rodriguez is ready for Randall to play a much bigger role in the offense.

“You worry about that a little bit. But I also have a lot of confidence in Brandon Dawkins. We got to try and find a way to get Jerrard in the game.”

As for College GameDay, Rodriguez says he never experienced it while he was a coach at West Virginia.

“I don’t know if I’m going on there or not. Blair [Willis] will probably get me over there,” Rodriguez said. “I think when I was doing TV before, I had to put makeup on. I hope they don’t ask me to do that again.”

GameDay will be an opportunity for the Wildcats to show potential recruits what life is like here in Tucson.

“I think we’ll have quite a few guys on unofficial visits because they want to be here for that atmosphere, more for the game than anything else,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll probably have a couple guys that want to make their official visits this weekend, which will make it a long weekend.”

Kickoff for Arizona and UCLA is at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“More than anything, just to show off the campus, the [UA], show off the city of Tucson, the atmosphere we got. I think it’s all positive,” Rodriguez said. “Our biggest challenge in recruiting is just getting somebody to come visit us, and now with GameDay, if they can’t be here in person, hopefully they can get a feel for us by watching us on TV. It’s going to be big.”

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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