Upon further review, the Arizona Wildcats' cornerbacks aren't worried.
Sure, they were called for a combined five pass interference penalties in last week's 34-27 win over Iowa. And, yes, the Hawkeyes declined two of them because the receiver had caught the ball and, in one case, scored a touchdown.
But after watching game film and practicing all week, Robert Golden and Trevin Wade believe they're on the right track. They will both start at the cornerback spots when No. 14 Arizona hosts Cal on Saturday in the teams' Pac-10 opener.
"I watched the film, and I didn't think it was pass interference," Wade said. "One, the guy jumped on me so I don't know what happened there. On another one, I knocked the ball down. And the other one was out of bounds and uncatchable."
Golden, a junior playing his first full season at cornerback, said all five penalties were "really close calls" that could have gone either way. He believes the Wildcats did a good job of stifling Iowa's passing game, especially since the Hawkeyes threw more times (33) than they ran (26).
Quarterback Ricky Stanzi completed 18 of 33 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns against a UA defense that focused primarily on stopping the run. The Wildcats will probably take the same approach against the Golden Bears (2-1) Saturday at Arizona Stadium.
Tailback Shane Vereen is one of the conference's most electric players; he has scored eight touchdowns through three games, tied for second-most in the country.
Stopping Vereen will be the Wildcats' first concern. If the Iowa game is any indication, they'll put seven players in the "box," leaving their cornerbacks and safeties to stop the pass. Cal quarterback Kevin Riley is the conference's reigning leader in career starts and passing yards, but his career has been dogged by inconsistency. He threw for 277 in last week's 52-31 loss to Nevada, but was intercepted three times.
Riley said Arizona has "a good defense, for sure."
"They've done a great job of stopping the run, and always have," he said. "They like to get people in the box. You gotta beat them throwing."
Playing penalty-free "is a challenge," co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown said, but part of the job.
"Life on an island is lonely, but you have to do what you can to survive and move on," he said. "You have to have short memories."
In that regard, the Wildcats still have work to do. Wade and Golden recalled their flag-filled performance during practice this week and vowed to improve. They both focused on footwork and their "closing," keeping their focus on the ball and not the receiver.
Upon further review, last week may have been a blessing in disguise.
"That was our first real test. It helped us out a lot in terms of what we have to do to stop receivers," Wade said. "We know what we have to do now."
On StarNet: For Ryan Finley's preview of the Pac-10 opener, visit azstarnet.com/video
• What: California at Arizona
• When: 7 p.m., Saturday
• TV: Ch. 58, FSAZ Plus
• Radio: 1490-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)