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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Brother, where art thou?”

Forget about the failed extra points, the missed tackles, the dropped interceptions, the lack of a running game and the ramped up competition.

The Wildcats’ four-game skid heading into the Valero Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State boils down to something simpler than defensive schemes and positional matchups.

Togetherness.

Accountability.

Trust.

It was no secret why the Wildcats jumped out to a 4-0 start and exceeded expectations early in the year.

“”We just rally around one another,”” said quarterback Nick Foles after Arizona willed its way past California to remain undefeated. “”We come together as a team, and we’re so close. We’re like brothers. We play for each other.

“”It’s definitely a close-knit group,”” he added.

Senior safety Joe Perkins echoed Foles’ statement after the Cal win.

“”Just a personality change,”” he said. “”We’re just all together now and just have a bond.””

But that brother-like mindset has been MIA since November. And if the Wildcats hope to get out of the gutter and play like they’re capable, they need to recapture that team mentality.

Safety Adam Hall diagnosed Arizona’s problem perfectly.

“”Individually, there have been some great efforts and as a team we just need to play with some more togetherness,”” he said. “”We need to bond back together and play like we were in the beginning of the season, because I feel like we played well together and depended on each other. Right now it seems like we’re more playing, and we’re not sure what the person next to us is going to be doing, and that’s a big problem.””

The Wildcats didn’t handle adversity very well down the stretch. The frustration of losing took over, and all of that discord came out in an ugly loss to ASU.

But Arizona has 21 days before the Alamo Bowl to right the ship and regain the continuity that characterized this team early in the season. If the Wildcats’ reaction to the ASU loss is any indication, they’re on the right track.

Foles said that after the game head coach Mike Stoops and strength coach Corey Edmond both addressed the team. But after that, Foles “”went around to the guys, and everyone was going around to each other and just doing what teammates do, keeping everybody together and I think that will be the key for us the next couple of weeks.””

Arizona also held a players-only meeting in McKale Center on Monday afternoon, which has to be a good sign for a team struggling to regain its bond.

With all that said, the key to the game isn’t to stop OSU’s No. 2 aerial attack. It isn’t to slow down the offense that averages 44.9 points per game.

As Foles said, togetherness is going to be the difference — as it was the first four games, and as it was the last four.  

— Mike Schmitz is a marketing junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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