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Wildcats on their way with plenty of work ahead


Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Dan Rosen

By Dan Rosen
Arizona Daily Wildcat, October 11, 1999

A few weeks back, after the miracle win at Washington State, I wrote in this section of the paper that Dick Tomey needs to pick his permanent captains immediately or this season could really get ugly.

I doubt that Tomey read my column and listened to me, but it was pretty evident on the field that the captains were picked and they fully understood their new roles.

Dennis Northcutt, Keith Smith, DaShon Polk and Marcus Bell are the key ingredients to football success for this team. Of course, we can't forget about Trung Canidate, but he quietly leads by example, not by motivation.

From the opening coin toss to the final whistle, they gave everything they had to this football team. They left it all out on the field, did everything they could to win and played their best game of the season.

Statistically speaking it wasn't the best game of the season for all of them, but instead of just running in spurts, playing a solid quarter and then shutting down, they came out and played the complete game that Dick Tomey had been waiting for.

Northcutt would catch a touchdown pass, then defend one of the best receivers in college football on a few plays. If that wasn't enough, after the defense shut down the USC offense, Northcutt would go back as a punt returner.

It was pretty evident that he was burned out after the game as his entire body cramped and locked up after spending 15 minutes with the media. He was in agony, but no one could question his leadership on the team.

Marcus Bell and DaShon Polk needed to come out and prove to the rest of the Pac-10 that they were not the leaders of the worst rush defense in the league.

The Wildcats proceeded to hold the Trojans to minus 20 net yards rushing and sacked Mike Van Raaphorst seven times for a loss of 49 yards.

This was not the same rush defense that was ranked last in the conference coming into the game.

And of course, a team will not win without leadership at the quarterback position, which is exactly what Arizona got yesterday.

Keith Smith was 15 of 23 for 243 yards and a touchdown. He also had 10 rushes for 106 yards, including his 57-yard scamper for a touchdown in the first quarter that opened up the rushing game for both him and Canidate, who managed to grind out 194 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown.

Smith, Northcutt, Polk and Bell knew that they would eventually be called upon to lead this team, and now Tomey has given them the go ahead, which is all they needed to get this ship sailing north.

It may be weird to say, but due to the rest of the Pac-10's anemic play this season, the Wildcats are still in the race for the Rose Bowl.

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