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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats cruising on the right kind of confidence

Larry+Hogan%2FArizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AAustin+Hill%2C+No.+29%2C+makes+a+diving+catch+during+for+the+UA+football+team+in+a+24-17+win+over+Toledo.
Larry Hogan/Arizona Daily Wildcat Austin Hill, No. 29, makes a diving catch during for the UA football team in a 24-17 win over Toledo.

They’ve won ugly, and now they’ve won big.

The most important question now for Arizona (2-0) looms large: Can the team win consistently in a surprisingly competitive Pac-12 conference?

If you were worried about the mindset of a team that won only four games last year, don’t be. The Wildcats are flying high early in the season by winning each game with high contrast, first needing overtime against Toledo and then exploding for 59 points and 501 total yards against then-No. 18 Oklahoma State.

Arizona has a confidence about itself right now, and rightfully so: it was forged from adversity the team experienced early on, such as resorting to using the third-string left guard against the Rockets because of injuries and being down 14-0 after two Oklahoma State scoring drives.

The ability to bounce back is the most surprising trait this Arizona squad possesses. It’s a far cry from last season — when the team was down, it was out.

Not anymore.

The Wildcats don’t seem to care about the lack of size on defense, or depth at linebacker and the defensive line. Most importantly, they aren’t playing scared.

“I’m never intimidated,” said receiver Austin Hill, who has collected back-to-back 100-yard-or-more games. “It doesn’t matter who your opponent is, you can’t go in there scared — you’re going to play scared.

It may be too early to talk about Arizona’s Sept. 22 meeting with Oregon or Oct. 27 date with the USC Trojans and Heisman frontrunner quarterback Matt Barkley, but at least we know that, even if it isn’t as talented as its opponent, Arizona has a chance.

How else do you explain a two-touchdown deficit that turned into a 21-point victory Saturday night?

“Our kids were saying ‘We have to believe’ [last week in practice] and I feel that if you really prepare and work hard, you’ll have confidence,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said after the game.

“The confidence comes from preparation. If you go work hard and play your tail off, you might not win, but you’ll have a good chance.”

Unlike recent years, Arizona fans can rely on the fight of their Wildcats, because they might be winning games solely on fight as they creep into a deep Pac-12 conference schedule.

“We might have guys that are smaller, slower, but if the guys are competitive, we’ve got a shot,” Rodriguez said.

— Cameron Moon is a journalism senior. He can be reached at
sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter at @MoonCameron20.

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