Arizona football notes: Colorado just became more interesting
Wildcats still in search of a road win
Now that the chances of quarterback Matt Scott playing have been significantly reduced with news of a concussion, Saturday’s game with Colorado might be a bit more tightly contested than originally thought.
The Buffaloes are in last place in the conference, and it was safe to presume the Wildcats had a chance of blowing them out of Arizona Stadium, as Colorado has given up more than 40 points in each of the last two games.
After Arizona’s 56-point loss to UCLA and with the possibility of B.J. Denker starting at least one game, the Wildcats appear to be primed for an upset. Receiver Richard Morrison and freshman Javelle Allen will be the backups.
“They might [think that] just because of our lousy performance,” junior linebacker Jake Fischer said. “We’re not going to completely forget about UCLA.”
Losing to Colorado may not be as far-fetched as it sounds, considering the Wildcats went to Boulder, Colo. last season trying to end a losing streak and instead were blown out, allowing the Buffaloes to rush for more than 270 yards.
“Early in the season we played a lot better,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “The focus has been pretty good in redirecting toward the next team. We have to get back to executing.”
“Your performance shouldn’t change when you’re on the road,” Rodriguez said, but it has for the Wildcats. In road games at Oregon, Stanford and UCLA, the Wildcats have only played competitively just once, falling in overtime to the Cardinal. Against Oregon and UCLA, they were outscored 115-10 and looked unfocused.
“I don’t know if it’s youth,” Rodriguez said. “I thought our execution wasn’t that bad at Oregon. I didn’t see any wide-eyed looks [from players before the game].”
Rodriguez said the team appeared focused and that he did not notice anything different in playing.
On the road, they faced more than 80,000 fans in a charged environment at the Rose Bowl, and a sold out crowd at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., which they have not seen at home, since Arizona Stadium has only had more than 50,000 fans on one occasion.
Rodriguez to open up punt return competition
Arizona punt returner Richard Morrison’s season-long struggles continued against UCLA, and after fumbling a punt in the first half of Saturday’s loss at UCLA, which led to a Bruins touchdown, Rodriguez said that there will be other players taking reps in the punt return game in preparation for the Colorado game.
“[Corner] Jonathan McKnight, maybe [receiver] Johnny Jackson,” Rodriguez said. “We haven’t repped [receiver] Austin Hill there, but he did it in high school.”
Morrison returned a punt for a touchdown against Washington two weeks ago, but has still not seen very much time at receiver since early in the season, in part due to fumbling problems.
“Don’t try to make the heroic catch,” Rodriguez said. “If you have to run up and catch it, it may take a funny bounce anyway.”