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Arizona football: Strong finish could bring bowl

UA needs 3 more W's; starting with Huskies, each game 'important'
2012-10-16T00:00:00Z 2014-10-10T11:31:34Z Arizona football: Strong finish could bring bowlRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 16, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats have spent their last six weeks on a journey of discovery.

And yet, it seems, they've yet to move an inch.

The Wildcats are in the same spot today as they were the morning of their Sept. 1 season opener. The team has won as many games (three) as it has lost. Arizona's spread-option offense has led the way, while an undersized, outmanned defense has struggled.

And Rich Rodriguez continues to be optimistic.

Arizona's first-year coach used the team's off week to gear up for Saturday's game against Washington, and the final six games on the team's regular-season schedule. The Wildcats (3-3 overall, 0-3 Pac-12) can qualify for a bowl game by winning at least half of its remaining games.

"I don't know if it's a clean slate as much as it's a second half," Rodriguez said. "The first half is over: There was some good, some bad and a lot to learn from.

"Now, we're in the second half. Every (remaining) game is a conference game, and every game is really, really important."

The off week couldn't have come at a better time. Arizona has lost three consecutive games after starting 3-0, with two of them - a 38-35 defeat to Oregon State and a 54-48, overtime loss to Stanford - coming down to the final possession. Rodriguez said the team could have theoretically been 5-1 heading into the week off; if not for an overtime win over Toledo in Week 1, however, the team could be 2-4.

Arizona can start the second half on a positive note by beating Washington (3-3, 1-2), which upset Stanford 17-13 on Sept. 27 but has since been handled by both No. 2 Oregon (52-21) and 11th-ranked USC (24-14).

The offensively challenged Huskies have yet to score more than 21 points against an FCS school. After facing Washington, Arizona will host USC before finishing with games against UCLA, Colorado, Utah and Arizona State.

During that time, Arizona will show whether it's a second-half team - or fading.

Running back Ka'Deem Carey said he's rested and ready.

"Halftime is when you rejuvenate, get ready for the second half and get out there and give it all you got," Carey said. "This is what we needed. Our bye being in the middle of the season is perfect; now, we just have to go out and finish strong."

Injury update

The bye week benefited Arizona's ever-expanding list of injured players - just not as much as Rodriguez and his staff would have hoped. As many as 13 starters were held out of practice last week as they recovered from various injuries.

Eleven entered the bye week with known injuries. They were: Guard Trace Biskin (toe), center Kyle Quinn (ankle), wide receivers Dan Buckner (leg), Terrence Miller (leg/shoulder) and Johnny Jackson (knee) defensive linemen Reggie Gilbert (ankle), Dominique Austin (foot) and Kirifi Taula (leg), linebackers Jake Fischer (shoulder) and Marquis Flowers (shoulder) and safety Jared Tevis (ankle) have all been battling various ailments.

It's unclear how many will be included in Arizona's injury list when it is released Thursday.

"I was hoping that the week would be better for us, the week off, but the way the injuries were - and you'll get the report on Thursday - it takes time," Rodriguez said. "So many of these things take time to get healed up."

Fischer said he's already feeling better. He practiced Sunday night on campus with few ill effects.

"Sunday, we were running around and everything, and I wasn't getting tired," he said. "My legs felt great, and I got a boost of energy … Having the week off let us regroup and refocus and get some players that had been injured some time to rest. We look to come back to full strength - or as close to it as possible."

Watching

The Wildcats spent the weekend watching - what else? - football.

Fischer and his teammates watched the USC-Washington game on TV trying to learn both offenses' cadences and looking for tendencies.

Rodriguez said he spent about 10 hours "watching someone else suffer," and came away impressed with the offensive variety and athleticism on display.

The coach caught the controversial ending of the Stanford-Notre Dame game, and he thought that Cardinal tailback Stepfan Taylor scored the tying touchdown in overtime.

Officials ruled that Taylor came up short of the end zone.

"It's reviewable, right? I thought they scored," Rodriguez said.

Extra points

• Saturday's game will mark a showdown between two of the league's top dual-threat quarterbacks. Arizona's Matt Scott and Washington's Keith Price run different offenses, but are "similar in a lot of ways," Rodriguez said.

"Their offenses are built around what they do and their strength. In that case, they are very similar," Rodriguez said. "But Matt is an older guy … Matt has been here five years, and he's playing like a veteran."

• The UA's Oct. 27 game against USC will kick off at 12:30 p.m. and be shown either on ABC regional television or ESPN2, the schools said Monday. The game will mark the Cats' first daytime kickoff at Arizona Stadium all season.

On StarNet: Follow UA through the second half of the season at: azstarnet.com/finley

Up next

• Who: Washington at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.-5FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 South football standings

Team W L T PCT
Arizona 5 1 0 0.833
Utah 5 1 0 0.833
USC 5 2 0 0.714
ASU 5 1 0 0.833
UCLA 5 2 0 0.714
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429

Pac-12 North football standings

Team W L T PCT
Oregon 6 1 0 0.857
Oregon State 4 2 0 0.667
Stanford 4 3 0 0.571
Washington 5 2 0 0.714
Cal 4 3 0 0.571
Washington State 2 5 0 0.286
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