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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Stoops awaits first game for newbies

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Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona Wildcats scrimmage at Arizona Stadium Saturday, Aug 20, 2011.

With one week remaining until the Arizona football team commences regular season play, head coach Mike Stoops and company are trying to focus on playing against NAU on Saturday without sneaking a peek at the daunting schedule ahead.

“I don’t think players are really concerned about it,” Stoops said Monday. “They’re young and they’ll turn around, and I think once the excitement of this game and the excitement of playing on the Thursday night (against Oklahoma State), it’ll be fine.”
Stoops said the team is looking forward to playing against someone other than themselves.

For many, it’ll be their first taste of a collegiate game time environment, and that experience will prove invaluable, especially considering that after playing NAU, the Wildcats take on three consecutive Associated Press top 10 teams in No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Stanford and No. 3 Oregon.

“It’s much more important for our guys who are playing for the first time to really understand the speed of the game is going to change drastically,” Stoops said.

While the pace will definitely be an adjustment for the young guys, Stoops will be looking forward to the clarity that the speed will bring to his overall gameplan.

“I always think things are clearer in the games, you see things much brighter in the games then you do in practice sometimes,” he said. “This game is going to be a great learning experience, for our younger players especially.”

It’s always tough for teams when they don’t have a few non-conference games to find their bearings, such as last year when the Wildcats played Toledo and The Citadel to begin their season. Stoops admitted Monday that he could use an extra game to adjust.

“It’s not ideal, with the strong nucleus of young players, you would have liked to have the Louisiana-Lafayette game and the NAU game back to back, to give us some experience going into really the teeth of our schedule,” he said. “It happened this way and we’re going to have to learn quickly from the experience that’s going to take place Saturday for our young players.”

Byrne excited for Wildcat Walk, new video board

According to UA athletic director Greg Byrne, there’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a college town at the beginning of the football season, who continues to develop a sense of tradition for the Arizona fans.

In continuation with last year, Byrne announced that the team will once again take part in the Wildcat Walk, where the team follows the band down Cherry Street, walking past fans and into the stadium.

“That’s such a great thing not only for our team and what they get to experience there, but also having the coaches seeing all of the passion.” Byrne said. “(For) the fans, it gets people out and from a recruiting standpoint, we obviously can’t have them in the middle of it, but to see that passion that’s here that’s unlike anything on the West Coast.”

In addition to the Wildcat Walk, the new video board at Arizona Stadium should captivate fans from the first glance.

The board, which Byrne said is 20 percent larger than the McKale Center floor, is situated on the south end zone and is on par with the best video boards in the country.

“We really think that’s going to be a heck of an addition to game day, and I think our fans will like it,” Byrne said. “Like I’ve said before I think everybody but the officials will think it’s a heck of a deal.”

And it’s not just for the fans. Stoops thinks that the video board will also be used as a learning tool for his team during the game.

“They learn a lot from the replays,” Stoops said. “It’s funny, they can see what happened. You see it in the NFL, it’s the same way.

“They all look up to see what happened after each play, so I think it’s really going to enhance our stadium and create a lot of energy in there.”

Jenkins unlikely to play on Saturday

If the Wildcats weren’t already injured enough, Stoops said that running back Daniel Jenkins will be considered doubtful to play against NAU after suffering a sprained ankle.

Arizona will most likely use freshman halfback Ka’Deem Carey a little more than expected on Saturday as he fills in both his and Jenkins’ role along with senior Keola Antolin.

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