UA football notes: Wildcats working to ensure Devils 'don't have anything to talk about'

2013-11-26T00:00:00Z UA football notes: Wildcats working to ensure Devils 'don't have anything to talk about'By Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Born and raised in Tucson, Jared Tevis has never really liked Arizona State.

“I went to a couple (Territorial Cup games) and growing up, I really hated these dudes,” the junior safety said Monday. “My sister ended up going there — she’s a traitor — and I have some buddies that go there, so that even amplifies it a little more because they like talking trash.

“We have to make sure that they don’t have anything to talk about.”

It doesn’t seem like anyone in cardinal and navy will have a hard time getting up for Saturday’s Territorial Cup in Tempe. The Wildcats are still days removed from a season-changing win over then-No. 5 Oregon; a victory over their in-state rival would end their regular season on a high note.

Some UA-ASU games are bigger than others, and this week’s will certainly be among the more significant ones. Both teams enter the game with at least seven wins for the first time since 1986 — that year, the UA won 34-17.

A win for the Sun Devils will ensure coach Todd Graham’s team gets to host the Pac-12 championship game against a Stanford. Lose to the Wildcats, and ASU will have to head to Northern California.

Of course, UA coach Rich Rodriguez doesn’t really care about that.

“I couldn’t care less about what they’re playing for,” Rodriguez said. “Their mindset, that’s up to them. I only worry about our guys.”

And the coach said his guys will be ready for their archrival after an emotional win over the Ducks.

“By the time we get together with them again on Tuesday, I think they’ve probably heard enough talk about ASU and the rivalry that they’re ready to get focused on that,” Rodriguez said during his weekly news conference. “ASU just had a big game themselves. Rivalry games are usually easier (to get up for) because our guys hear about it so much from alumni and all the UA folks that live up in the Valley.”

Rodriguez, who admitted on Monday that he used to make up or exaggerate quotes from players on former rivals and post them in the locker room, has spent the last year hearing about the Wildcats’ 41-34 loss to the Sun Devils in Tucson.

Rodriguez said he’s been reminded “a bunch of times” by UA fans and alumni.

“I say, ‘Oh, really. That’s a great revelation. I didn’t know that. Thanks for reminding me. Next person,’” Rodriguez said. “If I hear about it all the time, I’m sure our players do too. It gets a little old, but I don’t blame them.

“It’s an important game for a lot of people.”

Just imagine what Rodriguez has heard from the Sun Devils faithful.

“You get tired hearing about their fans; they’ll say some stuff,” Rodriguez said. “Guys that have never played — that couldn’t play dead in a western movie — bragging about their football team.”

Scooby’s big play

Saturday’s upset of the Ducks started with what might have been the defensive play of the season.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was picked off by UA linebacker Scooby Wright on the game’s first play; cornerback Shaq Richardson tipped the ball to Wright as he was falling out of bounds.

“SportsCenter” listed the pick as its No. 1 play of the weekend.

“I saw the ball thrown and I saw it was a quick gain and I was hustling to the ball and then I saw Shaq and the ball coming back to me and I started to slow down and was like, ‘Oh, I’m about to catch this ball,’” Wright said Monday. “I caught it and then tried to make the most of it. I can say I’ve never been involved in a play where someone is out of bounds and throws it back to somebody in bounds. I knew I was close (to being out of bounds), but after seeing the play, I didn’t know I was that close.”

Healthy Cats

Through 11 games, the Wildcats have — for the most part — avoided the injury bug.

“Last year it seemed like we got hit at the wrong position all the time,” Rodriguez said. “This year, we’ve been a little luckier. We couldn’t have afforded some injuries to some plays. Thankfully we got to Week 12 without too many.”

Left tackle Mickey Baucus appeared to suffer a leg injury on Arizona’s first drive Saturday. While Baucus was helped off by a pair of trainers, he returned the next drive and didn’t miss an offensive play.

Quarterback B.J. Denker, who has been battling a minor ankle injury the past couple of weeks, irritated it on the same drive. Like Baucus, he stayed in the game.

“The ankle was a little sore afterwards,” Denker said. “I rolled it. Nothing serious. They taped it up and I was fine and am fine now. I get banged up after every game. I’ll be fine for Saturday.”

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

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