Arizona’s competitive loss to USC is now a distant memory, replaced by a 2019 performance against Washington.
The Wildcats looked bad for three quarters in all facets of the game and didn’t cause any real fighting and setbacks until the fourth when Washington drew many of its starters.
The question now is, as the season approaches its final three games, who are the Arizona Wildcats?
Their 2-0 record undoubtedly gives the impression that they are just as bad as last year’s team that lost their last seven games, and the Huskies defeat only helped paint that picture.
But what if this record, and what is now a loss in nine games, says more about planning than about planning?
Do you remember the tough stretch that cost Mike Stoops his job? The 2010 Cats got off to a 7-1 start but lost their last five games, three of which were against top 15 teams. The other two losses were close against solid USC and ASU teams, with the Sun Devils (or maybe just James Brooks?) Defeat being particularly painful.
That losing streak ended in week 1 of next season with an outside-conference win against northern Arizona, but Arizona’s next three games were against top 10 teams in Oklahoma State, Stanford and Oregon. These were all uncompetitive losses, followed by competitive losses at USC and Oregon State.
A similar situation can play out before us for the same reasons.
We all knew that the first three games when the shortened schedule was released would be the toughest in Arizona. Incidentally, the one that was canceled – the start against Utah – was possibly the most winnable.
There wasn’t a state in Portland to hit and feel good about, nor was there a chance to repay yourself against Hawaii or beat Texas Tech for the second straight year. A home game against Stanford was stuck there and nothing about the cardinal scares you.
It’s fair to say Arizona wins some of these games, isn’t it? A win over one of these teams would have stopped the losing streak. A win over all four would have put Arizona in a pretty good place.
A quick start wouldn’t have meant Arizona was back, of course. Last season’s 4-1 record was a mirage, aided by the softest part of the schedule.
Nobody should be surprised that Arizona is 0-2. The Wildcats were double-digit underdogs in both matchups and competed with a severe talent deficit in every game.
Starting this weekend at UCLA, Arizona – still not preferring to win – has no excuse for not being competitive. The Bruins looked better at the start of the season, but against the softest part of their schedule.
A close loss in Oregon makes them look better, but we all know how quickly the sheen of moral victory can be removed.
On the other hand, at least UCLA has won a win this season, even though they faced a Cal team at home that had little more than a day to prepare.
So what can we expect on Saturday? A Bruins expert is unsure of the home team, especially because of his queries with the quarterback.
For Arizona it will be interesting to see them bounce back. Earlier this week, Kevin Sumlin fell victim to his team, saying coaches need to give their players a better chance.
« I’m the common denominator there, » he said. « There are a hell of a lot of players who played on Saturday night and had nothing to do with last year. I mean a lot of them.
« We can put it all into everything, but you can just throw this at me because it ends up with my name on it. ”
If the fourth quarter of the Washington loss showed the team didn’t quit, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they played a lot better against the Bruins. Many in the rotation were Sumlin recruits, so it should be more likely that they will continue to play hard for the coach who put them in the fold.
For her and everyone else on the squad, the game against UCLA is not only the next chance to end the loss, but also one of the best given the schedule.
Arizona Wildcats Soccer, UCLA Bruins Soccer, American Football, Pacific 12 Conference, Washington Huskies Soccer, USC Trojan Soccer, University of California, Los Angeles, Rose Bowl Stadium, Oregon Ducks Soccer
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