The Arizona Wildcats football team was flying high through the first three weeks of the season. But they have now been brought back down to earth after a 49-0 loss at the hands of the now second ranked Oregon Ducks. And it’s no rest for the weary. Up next is a Oregon State team that is defying odds and experts.
“We have a lot of things to clean up from Saturday night’s game, and we’ve got another team coming in that has been playing really good football,” said Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez on Monday. “I hope our guys will bounce back and have great practices this week. They weren’t the best last week and I was a little disappointed in that. We talked about it and now we just have to get back to work.”
The Wildcats squandered many opportunities to have a lead and get off to a fast start at Autzen Stadium last Saturday against the Ducks. Five scoreless red zone visits in the first half and seven total on the game costed the Wildcats the opportunity to stun the college football world. The lack of execution was the disappointing factor in the game and is something Arizona is looking to improve upon.
“Every time you’re in the red zone you expect to score and we just couldn’t make it happen,” said quarterback Matt Scott. “We couldn’t finish drives and we couldn’t execute. It hurts, our defense came up with big stops and we couldn’t capitalize on those. Missed opportunities hurt us. We’re going to fix that and you won’t see that problem this week.”
“There were situations where Oregon beat us, but then there were situations where we beat us,” Rodriguez mentioned. “The ones where we beat us, we’ve got to fix in a hurry.”
Beating themselves was a problem with Oregon and it will absolutely be a problem again if done so against Oregon State. They are currently fifth in the conference in total offense averaging 427.5 yards per game from scrimmage and third in the conference in total defense. A defense that has kept a Heisman candidate in Monte Ball of Wisconsin and a high-powered UCLA offense in check so far this season.
“UCLA has been putting points and yards on everybody they’ve faced, and Oregon State did a great job stopping them,” added Rodriguez. “It’s a different front and scheme compared to last week, but it still has its own complications and looks that we have to prepare for this week.”
As mentioned the offense is no slouch either. Quarterback Sean Mannion has been very reliable for the Beavers and is coming off a 379 yard and two touchdown performance. The Wildcats defense held their own for much of the game forcing three and outs and turnovers against Oregon, and will need a similar performance again Saturday.
“We have to play them very disciplined,” explained Rodriguez. “We have tackled well for the most part and that is going to be another key to this game; tackling in the open field and getting guys down.”
The Wildcats will be sporting a new look on Saturday as well. They will be wearing copper helmets during the game to pay tribute to the mining history in the state of Arizona.
“Being a history major, I know the importance of copper to the state and how big the mining industry is, so it’s going to be great to be able to represent that,” explained Arizona center Kyle Quinn. “We just have to go out there and play a great game in them on Saturday.”
“Obviously, there’s good history behind them,” mentioned Scott. “It’s not our general colors, but we’re going to wear them this week. I think we have to go blue jerseys, I don’t think red would look that good, but it doesn’t matter what you wear, you still have to go out there and win.”
Helmets aside, this matchup for Arizona is an opportunity to bounce back after a disappointing performance and also another opportunity to beat a top 20 team in the nation. The leaders on the team are making it a point to prove that the Oregon game is not the best representation of what this team thinks they are capable of.
“I think the mood of the team is we’re ready for Oregon State,” mentioned linebacker Jake Fischer. “We’re ready to get back out there and redeem ourselves. I think you’re going to see a different team on Saturday.”
Kick-off is Saturday at 7:00pm from Arizona Stadium. The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Network, so Direct TV owners plan accordingly.