A Cat trapPosted: Updated:
The Arizona Football team sits among the top 3 teams in the Pac-10 Conference, and has just the right amount of confidence going into their match-up against the University of Washington. Why shouldn’t they be confident? The Cats found a way to win their conference opener despite starting a new quarterback, playing on the road in a hostile environment, and dealing with a number of injuries at the time (RB’s – Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin; DE – Brooks Reed; OL – Mike Diaz and Vaughn Dotsy). On the other sideline you have the Washington Huskies – a team that has displayed their very best and very worst in the last 3 weeks, and has lost their last two games. After upsetting the USC Trojans, the Huskies were “dump-trucked” by Stanford followed by an overtime heart-breaker at Notre Dame. On the surface it appears that Arizona will come out of Husky Stadium with a “W.” The team has positive momentum on its side and injured players will return to the field; while the Huskies are hoping to just get back in the win column. That kind of speculating will have you disappointed come Saturday evening.
From a player’s mentality, season record’s coming into a game like this are simply numbers separated by dashes and might as well be Greek letters because they shouldn’t be paying attention to them. If there was ever a time to take things “one week at a time,” this is that time. The Cats played like that before and they’re going to have to play like that again. Arizona had its back against the wall going to Oregon State two weeks ago. The coaches knew that as soon as the Iowa game was in the books. A second straight loss combined with a 0-1 start in the Pac-10 would have created doubt and uncertainty. Think about it. The offense did not look too sharp against Central Michigan in the season opener, and at one point NAU was only down 14-10 late in the second quarter. Arizona had to have that win against the Beavers and they played like it for a full 60 minutes. The Cats responded to the adversity and big plays by OSU and they won a close game. Hopefully they’ll take that same attitude into Seattle because the chance to slip up is waiting for them.
At 2-3, the Huskies are a team that could easily be 4-1 this season. Two of their 3 losses have been by 8 points or less. They may not shut teams out, but their defense makes plays when necessary (ask USC). The offensive skill players are some of the best in the conference and most importantly, they have arguably the best quarterback in the nation. We all know by now that quarterback play is the defining factor of whether or not you have a chance to win. These are things that Arizona needs to respond to if they want to come out of this weekend 2-0 in the Pac-10. The sense of urgency needed for this game is practically indescribable. I guarantee you, UW head coach Steve Sarkisian is letting his guys know that they are still a contender for a top spot in this conference, and taking care of business against Arizona will prove that. If you saw the look in QB Jake Locker’s eyes walking off the field at Notre Dame you knew that was a determined young man. It was the look of a football player that has had too many winnable games slip through his fingers like running water, and he was not going to let it happen again. Now Locker is at home, his team is still in the race for the Pac-10 and they’re ready to host a Wildcat squad that may not be prepared to match their intensity for a full 3 hours. That’s where the trap lies.
Has Arizona realistically put the Oregon State win behind them? The only thing they need to remember from that game is the focus, the energy, and the “want to” that it took to come away victorious… AND QUADRUPLE IT!!!! Considering what is on the line now; the Iowa game might as well have been a training camp scrimmage. That’s how much Arizona needs to be thinking about the Washington Huskies. Having a 3-1 record is a great feeling, especially when you’re 1-0 in conference play, but it will mean nothing if you can’t move to 4-1 and 2-0 respectively. It’s much easier to THINK about improving to 2-0, than it is to think about what it will take to actually be 2-0. Arizona has to avoid the traps that will pop up throughout the course of the game. To do this they have to be confident knowing that as long as there are numbers on the game clock, there’s always a chance to win.