SHREVEPORT, La. — It’s been 31 days since we’ve last seen the Arizona Wildcats.
And it wasn’t a pretty sight.
The Wildcats were walking off the field at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe with their heads down, their uniforms dirty and their pride at an all-time low after a 58-21 loss to rivals Arizona State. Coach Rich Rodriguez called the performance “embarrassing.”
Today, Rodriguez and the UA get to hit the reset button.
After 15 practices, days of pre-bowl events and a short holiday break, it’s time for the AdvoCare V100 Bowl between the UA and Boston College. Kickoff is set for 10:30 a.m.
“Having a month since the last game, you want the execution to be there,” Rodriguez said. “Whether it’s offense, defense or special teams, you want to play a clean game from a no-penalty standpoint and you certainly want to take care of the ball.
“This has a first-game feel to it, but that being said, we’ve had 14 or 15 practices, so we have to get out and play crisp and see what happens.”
It’s also been 31 days since Boston College last played — a 34-31 loss to Syracuse — and the layoff is a concern for Eagles coach Steve Addazio as well.
“That’s what you’re worried about,” Addazio said. “You make your decisions and try to live with them. These are the challenges that you face in a bowl game: How do you prepare? How much in pads? How much contact? Are we in shape enough?
“You hope everything you do is the right kind of mix and that you play at competitive excellence.”
Both teams have spent their time in Shreveport with one eye on football and the other on having some fun. There have been bowling outings, game show competitions, trips to Air Force bases and enough food to even make the linemen full.
But after Sunday afternoon’s practice, Rodriguez told his players that all of their attention needed to shift to today’s game.
“Earlier in the week, I wanted them to think about the game a little bit, but I also wanted them to enjoy the experiences down here,” Rodriguez said Monday. “Now, it’s game time. From (Sunday’s) practice until 11:30 (Shreveport time, today), we have to be dialed in pretty good.”
Arizona players said they don’t think it will be an issue to be “dialed in.” Even with a kickoff before noon local time, a week’s worth of distractions and a month layoff, they’re ready to get back to work.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a deal, but we do have to get off to a good start,” linebacker Jake Fischer said. “We don’t think they’re going to try to anything fancy. We think they’re going to come out and try to run it down our throat. It’s very important for us to get off to a good start, and hopefully we get the offense back out on the field after a couple of three-and-outs.”
Today will mark the final game of Fischer’s career. The Ironwood Ridge High School product graduated from the UA earlier this month.
But the biggest piece of intrigue surrounding today’s AdvoCare Bowl involves Ka’Deem Carey.
The junior running back will decide sometime after today’s game whether he’ll enter May’s NFL draft.
Rodriguez said he’s hoping for one more season.
“I think he’s been one of the best in the history of Arizona, certainly,” Rodriguez said. “Whether it’s one more game or one more year and a game, he’s done an awful lot for this program.”