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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats rue 1st-half inconsistency

    Freshman running back Nicolas Grigsby gets sandwiched between two California defenders in Arizonas 45-27 loss Sept. 22 at California Memorial Stadium. Grigsby had a breakthrough performance the following week against Washington State.
    Freshman running back Nicolas Grigsby gets sandwiched between two California defenders in Arizona’s 45-27 loss Sept. 22 at California Memorial Stadium. Grigsby had a breakthrough performance the following week against Washington State.

    Up and down. Up and down. That’s been the story of the first half for the Arizona football team.

    No one on the Wildcat roster could have predicted a 2-4 record heading into arguably its toughest matchup of the year, a date with No. 10 USC in Los Angeles.

    Expectations before the season were sky-high, with excitement brewing over a new offensive coordinator and a defense that featured eight seniors.

    A bowl berth was seemingly the biggest goal for the 2007 season, and while it may seem out of the question right now, the Wildcats still don’t have a sinking feeling.

    “”You can’t ever get that,”” said linebacker Spencer Larsen. “”We work too hard to lay down and give up.””

    Larsen pointed to last season, when Arizona was 2-4 at the half and could have clinched a bowl berth with a win over ASU on the final game of the season.

    It may not be as easy this year. Following the matchup with the Trojans, the Wildcats will face teams such as UCLA, Oregon and ASU, all teams that have been ranked in the top 15 nationally at one point this season.

    “”We wish we were better, but we still have a lot of things to play for,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”We just haven’t played as well as we needed to against good teams.””

    We think we got something going and then something bad happens. …Consistency is the key that we need to find.

    Jason Parker, defensive end

    The good teams Stoops speaks of are all teams that made bowl games last year. Losses to Brigham Young, New Mexico, California and Oregon State – all bowl teams last year – damned the first half thus far, accounting for all of Arizona’s losses.

    The Wildcats’ only two wins came against teams that didn’t play any postseason games in 2006. If the trend continues, Arizona would finish the season 4-8.

    Defensive end Jason Parker said the inconsistencies of the first half – strong offensive and defensive showings followed by poor ones – is “”a bad habit that we’ve picked up.””

    “”Each person needs to look within their self and bring out the fight,”” he said. “”We can only afford to lose a few more games before our goals are shattered, and that’s a bowl game.

    “”It’s very frustrating. We think we got something going and then something bad happens. It’s played a big part of our season so far. Consistency is the key that we need to find.””

    Parker, who started his first game of the season Saturday against Oregon State in place of the injured Louis Holmes, said a 2-4 record didn’t even cross his mind throughout preseason and summer workouts.

    Arizona can take solace in that the past few years, the team has played its best football in the late months. Last year, it had three consecutive upset wins entering the showdown with the Sun Devils with a 6-5 record.

    Larsen said he notices a recurring trend from his first three years at Arizona.

    “”I can honestly tell you that in three years here we’ve never, ever played our best and had someone beat us,”” he said. “”We just haven’t been able to play to our potential. …I can’t think of one game where we played great and lost.””

    “”My senior year I expected a lot bigger things,”” he added.

    Larsen’s belief seems to resonate with everyone in the program, that it’s not an effort problem, nor a physical problem, but a mental problem.

    “”We just really haven’t put it all together yet,”” said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”I’m kind of curious to see how good we can do if we do put it all together. I think we have a chance to have a good football team still.

    “”The funny thing about it is, when you win, you always think you’re better than you really are, and when you lose you always think you’re worse than you really are. That’s the weird thing about football is that you never know how things are going to play out.””

    In the first two years of the Stoops era, his teams started out with 1-5 records. Last year and this year, they have posted 2-4 records.

    “”We certainly wish our record would be better,”” Stoops said. “”Everybody goes through these times. It’s not a pity party.

    “”We’re still capable of a lot more than we’ve shown.””

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