ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Wildcats put focus on new beginning

Players hit field today, place bad memories in past
2010-08-05T00:00:00Z 2010-08-05T07:08:16Z Wildcats put focus on new beginningRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 05, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats' white helmets were mothballed seven months ago - packed up and, presumably, sent back to the land of one-time-only, bad ideas.

The helmets returned to McKale Center on Thursday.

Or at least it looked that way.

"We added a stripe to it," quarterback Nick Foles said with a smile. "It's a different helmet."

Memories of the Wildcats' Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl loss can't be whitewashed away, even though the now-infamous helmets - repurposed this year as part of an alternate uniform - live on.

The UA will open training at 6:15 this morning determined to rebuild an image tarnished by the bowl-game blowout. Nebraska's 33-0 shellacking has stuck with the UA through a long, disconcerting off-season, infiltrating the team's voluntary workouts and weight room sessions.

The Wildcats will open their season Sept. 3 at Toledo. Though Arizona has posted back-to-back 8-5 seasons, the team is expected to have a chip on its shoulder.

"That's been our motivation all off-season," wide receiver/kick returner Bug Wright said. "Every time we touch the field, we remember that game, how embarrassed we were and how our school felt about it. We didn't represent Arizona football in that game."

Few inside McKale Center need reminding.

Arizona managed just 109 total yards - 63 on the ground and just 46 through the air - during the course of the nightmare game. The Wildcats gained just six first downs, and ran 51 plays. The result: The first shutout in the 30-plus year history of the Holiday Bowl.

Mike Stoops' initial reaction - that Arizona's "storm trooper" look consisting of white helmets, jerseys pants and shoes was bad luck - has been replaced with a more objective assessment of the game. The Wildcats were dominated physically by Nebraska's defense, led by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who became the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft in April.

Foles completed 6 of 20 passes for 28 yards in, easily, the worst performance of his career.

Defensively, Arizona was blindsided by a revamped Huskers passing attack.

"They outplayed us," Foles said. "Football is so much about execution. We got down early, and they just started pounding us. It was a learning experience for us all - for the coaches, for the players. … It's something that we'll deal with until we start our first game."

The Wildcats' penance - and hope for an eventual redemption - begins today at daybreak. The UA will hold early-morning workouts at the Rincon Vista practice complex on Tucson Boulevard between Broadway and 22nd Street, for a week before relocating to Fort Huachuca.

The Wildcats will train on the Army installation Aug. 12-15 before returning to Tucson.

All practices at Rincon Vista and Fort Huachuca are open to the public; the UA isn't expected to christen the on-campus Jimenez Practice Facility until school starts.

Maybe the Wildcats' Holiday Bowl hangover will be over by then.

"I like the white helmet," Foles said. "I'll be excited to wear it in a game and do a lot better this time around."

On StarNet: Check out pictures of the Wildcats' white helmets on Ryan Finley's blog at go.azstarnet.com/finley

FORMER WILDCAT DEAN GETS DIVERSION IN WEAPONS CASE

Former Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Delashaun Dean will enroll in a diversion program after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor weapons violation Wednesday in Tucson City Court.

Dean must complete the course and pay a $200 fine; if he does, the former UA receiver's charges will be waived.

Dean was arrested on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon early in the morning on June 19.

Tucson Police Department officers were called to an IHOP Restaurant on North Oracle Road at about 2:40 a.m. after a patron reported seeing Dean flash a gun in his waistband.

Dean was frisked for weapons, according to reports, but officers found nothing. Shortly thereafter, officers found two semiautomatic handguns underneath Dean's car.

Coach Mike Stoops dismissed Dean from the team after learning of the arrest.

Dean has transferred to Texas A&M-Kingsville, where he will play football this fall.

Ryan Finley

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

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