USC’s final Hail Mary pass came up incomplete in last year’s game at Arizona, allowing the Cats to finish off their 39-36 win. The Trojans went into a second-half tailspin to finish 7-6.

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star 2012

LOS ANGELES — It was rather obvious this week that the Arizona Wildcats are pretty sick of talking about tonight’s opponent, USC.

Consider these quotes:

“They did recruit me. I liked it over there, but they are too full of themselves,” running back Ka’Deem Carey said.

“They’re big, fast and athletic, especially on the front, but they don’t have depth. We’re trying to push our tempo even faster. Once their first string is tired, it’s going to be tough because they don’t have a lot of depth,” quarterback B.J. Denker added.

And perhaps the strongest of them all came from senior nose tackle Tevin Hood when he was asked about Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler.

“He’s kind of a shorter guy,” Hood said. “He holds the ball too long. Personally, I think he can’t see over the line so he makes some bonehead throws.”

Tonight, the UA will stop talking and start playing.

The Wildcats (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12), thanks to some funky scheduling, will be looking for their first win in nearly a month when the game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Last time we saw them, they stuck with Washington for three and a half quarters, but gave up two touchdowns over the last 16-plus minutes and fell 31-13 in wet and windy conditions in Seattle.

Denker struggled in that weather, completing 14 of 35 passes for 119 yards and two interceptions.

The UA used its semi-bye week to work on the passing game and is confident that tonight, in ideal Southern California weather, Denker and the passing attack will be sharper and more dangerous.

Denker said he worked on a lot since the Sept. 28 loss to the Huskies. Priority No. 1 was his decision-making.

“I need to make sure that I see the defense and put the ball where it’s supposed to be,” Denker said. “Sometimes against Washington, I anticipated them doing something and they did something else, and it caught me off guard. I just want to be prepared mentally and physically. That’s the big thing.”

As tough as things were for Denker and the UA in the Seattle weather, the challenge could be even greater tonight.

Yes, USC is 0-2 in league play and struggling to find its identity, but the Trojans still have a roster full of four- and-five-star recruits that Arizona surely would have taken out of high school.

Combine that with the fact that USC should play with some extra motivation tonight after seeing its coach, Lane Kiffin, get fired after an embarrassing 62-41 loss at Arizona State. Interim coach Ed Orgeron will run the program for the rest of the season.

“I did tell the players that this game is going to be more difficult because USC is going to play extremely fired up, loose and come out with a chip on their shoulder,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We will get USC’s best shot.”

Orgeron hopes he’s right.

“It’s a critical week for us to get back to USC football,”

Orgeron said. “Our players have been though a lot. We’re trying to ease up on them a little bit. We thought they needed some change, and it seems like it’s worked so far. They have responded great.

“They’re smiling, joking, but they’re still focused.”

Extra points

• Arizona’s home game on Oct. 19 against Utah will kick off at 7 p.m., the Pac-12 announced Wednesday. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.

It marks the second time this season the Wildcats will kick off at 7. The UA’s season opener against NAU was also a 7 p.m. start. It will be the third time this year the UA will have its game televised by Pac-12 Networks, joining the NAU and UTSA games.

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