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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona could rebound vs. ASU

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.

It’s been a season full of highs and lows for Arizona. The highs featured a 7-1 start, while the Wildcats are currently entrenched in the lows — a three-game losing streak with consecutive losses to Stanford, Southern California and Oregon.

But Arizona can salvage its season with a victory over ASU when the Sun Devils and Wildcats square off at Arizona Stadium on Thursday night at 6 p.m.

So what is the mindset of a team struggling to find itself as it faces its in-state rival in its regular-season finale?

“”We’re frustrated and determined at the same time,”” said head coach Mike Stoops on Monday. “”We need to go out there and compete for 60 minutes and win a rival game, and that’s what you have to do.””

Stoops said his team has lacked “”intensity and focus”” in the last few games, but a short turnaround after Oregon and a rivalry game on tap should allow the Wildcats to regain that focus.

They know what’s at stake and there’s no better medicine for lack of motivation than playing a hated rival.

“”There’s a lot of goals that we want to attain (this season), some we didn’t. But this has always been a goal of ours, is to beat Arizona State, and it will and always will be a goal,”” Stoops said. “”We understand the significance, and I think there will be a lot of excitement and energy in our players, and hopefully our play will reflect that.””

Bowl game least of Arizona’s worries

Despite their recent woes, the Wildcats are most likely destined for the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, or the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

But even though they’re one game removed from their third consecutive bowl game, it’s the last thing on Arizona’s mind.

“”We just want to win. I can honestly say that, this week, that’s the furthest thing from our mind,”” Stoops said. “”I think it’s important that we just put that in the back of our minds. We know we’re going to be somewhere. It’s not that big a deal who we play, where we go.””

Erickson connection

Although they’ll be on opposite sidelines on Thursday, Stoops and ASU head coach Dennis Erickson have a history dating back to Stoops’ time as a graduate assistant at Iowa.

“”I remember I was kind of in awe of him when I was just a young (graduate assistant) at the time, trying to move up in this profession, and now you’re coaching against some of these guys,”” Stoops said.

Stoops said he considers Erickson a “”good friend, a good person and a good football coach,”” and respects him “”as a person and a coach.””

The two even played golf last spring and, when asked who won, Stoops said with a smile, “”Of course.””

Erickson has been rumored to be on the hot seat at ASU, a thought Stoops doesn’t quite think is right.  

“”I don’t necessarily agree with it all, but I don’t think anybody necessarily cares how I feel about it, to be honest with you,”” he said. “”All I know is he’s been very fair and good to me, so that’s all I go by.””

Hall turning heads

Sophomore safety Adam Hall is coming into his own as of late, most recently an 11-tackle game against Oregon including an interception on the Ducks’ opening drive.

“”Adam’s really stepped up and become a factor in our defense and that’s really pleasing to see,”” Stoops said. “”His assignments are becoming clearer to him. He’s being able to play faster. He’s an aggressive player as it is, but that lets him play faster as he gets more comfortable in his position.””

In his last two games, Hall’s combined for 19 tackles and two interceptions. In the previous nine games Hall only collected 28 tackles and zero interceptions. Despite his success, Stoops said he still has some things to learn.

“”He needs to learn how to become a better form tackler in the aspect that you want to use your face and your whole body and not necessarily throw your shoulder in there for your well-being and obviously for his career,”” he said. “”I think he has the capabilities of being a great position tackler as well. I’m just worried about his shoulders and keeping them healthy.””

Bug Wright still suspended

Junior receiver William “”Bug”” Wright was suspended prior to the Oregon game for violating team rules. Stoops had yet to comment on the issue until Monday when he said, “”He will be suspended. When that is up, and if it’s up, is pretty tenuous right now. When that status changes I would certainly let you guys know.””

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