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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Football takes one game at a time

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets Washington State University in an NCAA football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 7, 2009. Arizona went on to win 48-7, getting their 6th win of the season, and becoming ball eligible.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Washington State University in an NCAA football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 7, 2009. Arizona went on to win 48-7, getting their 6th win of the season, and becoming ball eligible.

After throttling Washington State 48-7, Arizona football — No. 18 in the Associated Press’s rankings — is riding high. While the rankings are nice, the overriding scenario that most excites Wildcat fans is that if the team can win its next four games, Arizona will appear in its first ever Rose Bowl.

Don’t tell head coach Mike Stoops about that, though.

“”One game season,”” Stoops said. “”We’re in a good position and we want to stay there. (The players) know the caliber of football teams that we’re playing.””

“”That would be childish to explain that to them,”” he added. “”They understand exactly what’s at stake.””

The team and coaching staff are well aware of what opportunities lie ahead of them. What’s daunting, though, is just how hard it will be for Arizona (6-2, 4-1 Pacific 10 Conference) to win all of its remaining games.

“”We want to stay where we’re at, we know we have a good football team but we know we have to play a certain way to be effective,”” Stoops said. “”There’s a lot that we need to improve on, and our focus and attention to detail this week will be critical.

“”You get your second wind coming off the bye and being able to go out there against Washington State and not get pressed was good for us,”” he added.

Arizona starts its brutal final four-game stretch this week against California, and then must play Oregon, Arizona State and USC. Difficult, but the buzz surrounding Arizona football is undeniable.

“”This is a good time,”” Stoops said. “”It’s exciting and each game gets bigger and bigger.””

Special teams especially good

One of the reasons Arizona was able to beat Washington State in such a dominating fashion was because they played extremely well in every aspect of the game, especially special teams, which has been an Achilles heel for the team all season.

“”Our special teams has been an area that’s not performed as well as we liked oranticipated, we haven’t gotten a lot of big plays,”” Stoops said.

That all changed on Saturday. Travis Cobb returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown — the first kick return for a touchdown since 1998 — and William “”Bug”” Wright ran a punt back for a score in the second half.

“”I think you can see that Travis Cobb and Bug Wright give us some more punch and capabilities of big plays,”” Stoops said. “”Bug is a good returner because he can make people miss, and Travis has great speed. He’s far and away one of our fastest guys on the team. They give us more weapons, and that’s always good.””

Both Wright and Cobb are players with limitless potential and the capability to make an impact not only on offense — both primarily play wide receiver — but on special teams.

“”You’re always trying to develop players, and those are examples of two players that have grown within the system,”” Stoops said. “”Those are two players that are starting to come on.””

If those two can continue to put points on the board, it will make Arizona a much more dynamic team.

“”Being effective on special teams gives you confidence,”” Stoops said.

Injury update

For the first time in a while, Stoops wasn’t the bearer of bad news when he released injury updates.

“”We’re healthier,”” Stoops said, trying to hide a smile of relief. “”Brooks (Reed) will be full-time now.””

Reed, a defensive end, missed time this season due to an ankle injury. He saw limited action against Washington State, but made his presence felt by recording a sack and a forced fumble.    

Offensively, the running backs are getting healthier. Freshman Greg Nwoko has been bothered by a sprained shoulder and did not appear in the Washington State game despite dressing. He’s expected to be healthy and return this weekend at California.

While the news for starting running back Nic Grigsby is better than last week, the junior is still unlikely to play.

“”Nic (Grigsby) will be held out of contact all week, whether we put him into contact situations on Saturday is based on how he feels and what kind of soreness (is in his shoulder),”” Stoops said. “”Nic will be our only question mark.””

In addition to on-the-field injuries, Arizona has had its fair share of illnesses as well. The flu bug has hit the team hard but is on its way out.

“”Our flu epidemic that’s gone through the team seems to be slowing down which is really positive,”” Stoops said. “”We still have some guys fighting through that right now, but not many, it’s starting to subside.””

Stoops said that somewhere between 50-60 players suffered through the flu over the past few weeks. Each player had a flu shot two weeks ago, and the effects of the shots are starting to kick in, Stoops said.

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