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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Desperate for a win

Time is running out.

With five games and four losses in the books and the 2011 season evaporating, Arizona’s chances of making a fourth consecutive bowl game are quickly fading. Winning the Pac-12 South is almost all but out the window and the Wildcats are in desperation mode as they head to Corvallis, Ore., to take on Oregon State on Saturday.

“It’s pretty desperate right now in a lot of situations,” said head coach Mike Stoops on Monday. “To have any chance to win the South, I think you’ve got to pretty much run the table. I know there are a lot of teams that have a lot of losses on their side but Arizona State, I don’t think has any. But we just need to worry about Oregon State and do what we need to do to win any game.”

It’s been awhile since Arizona’s earned a notch in the win column against an FBS opponent — 11 months and four days to be exact. After defeating FCS opponent NAU 41-10 to open the season, the Wildcats dropped four straight games to Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and USC to move to 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the Pac-12. Losing has become the norm for the Wildcats, which players and coaches are out to change this weekend.

“Losing creates doubt, and you can’t win if you have doubt and lack of belief and all the things you need to win because there’s a physical part of it but it’s more important mentally to understand how to play this game,” Stoops said. “That’s something we need to get back to.”

After facing four consecutive perennial powerhouses, the Wildcats get a drop-off in competition this Saturday with an equally woeful Beavers team. Like the Wildcats, Oregon State sits at the bottom of its Pac-12 division at 0-2. The Beavers are winless in 2011 after falling to Sacramento State 29-28 to kick off the season and losing to Wisconsin, UCLA and ASU thereafter.

“They’re as desperate as we are for a win,” Stoops said.

Oregon State did, however, play ASU tight last weekend as the Beavers jumped out to a 13-0 lead and were within one point midway through the third quarter before the Sun Devils took control.

And the Wildcats are well aware that with the way they’re playing defensively, any team can beat them. Arizona gave up 564.8 yards per game in its last four contests. On Saturday, 468 passing yards from USC quarterback Matt Barkley contributed to the totals.

“They got us going one way and came back the other way,” said freshman defensive tackle Saneilia Fuimaono. “They just keep filtering through their plays and just getting us on the little mistakes. We were just one step behind and they were one step ahead.”

Arizona has become the Pac-12 punching bag, ranking last in nearly every major defensive category, including scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and sacks.

“We can’t continue to play defense like this and expect to win,” Stoops said. “That’s been the most disappointing part of it all is just that we haven’t been very good defensively and guys we relied on to make plays haven’t really made plays for us, and we need those guys to step up and be accountable and be better players. Hopefully that will happen this week.

“If it does, then we’ll have a great opportunity to win,” Stoops added. “If we continue to play like this, then we won’t have any chance to win.”

Arizona’s offense remains one of the top units in the Pac-12. Quarterback Nick Foles has been stellar all season, and he received a huge boost in the running game against the Trojans as the Wildcats rushed for 129 yards and two scores.

But the offense can only do so much. Arizona needs its defense to hold up its end of the bargain in a game that could remind the Wildcats what it feels like to win and kick-start a second-half run.

“It’s big,” said senior center Kyle Quinn of Saturday’s game. “It’s going to be a dog fight. Both teams are going to be hungry for wins. Both programs need wins. We’re both on losing streaks so it’s going to be a big game on Saturday.”

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