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Cats forced to look ahead after 3rd worse home loss

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Louisiana State University running back Barrington Edwards breaks away from Arizona's Darrell Brooks in the second quarter of Saturday's loss.
By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday September 8, 2003


That was just about the only thought that came to mind after the No. 13 Tigers of LSU drove 80 yards on their first possession ¸ scoring with 8:31 to go in the first quarter ¸ and was all that could sum up a game that most thought could jump-start Arizona's season if they were to knock off a powerhouse so early in their schedule.

The Arizona offense looked not just one step, but three steps behind throughout the game, overthrowing receivers at every opportunity, running incorrect routs, and only converting three first-downs to LSU's 19 in the first half.

"We had a couple things early in the game that might have given us a chance to get back in there, or at least close it a little bit, but they never materialized for us," head coach John Mackovic said after the loss.

"They really took it to us out there," sophomore quarterback Nic Costa said. "They forced (the offense) into situations we didn't want to make and we couldn't pick up first downs the way we wanted to."

Costa and red-shirt freshman Ryan O'Hara threw for a total of 91 yards in the game after the duo combined for 229 yards against UTEP just one week ago.

According to Costa, the difference came with the speed of the LSU defense and the inconsistency of the Arizona offense.

"It seemed that when we got in certain formations, they knew what we were going to do," Costa said. "They made checks with the linebackers and safeties and then blitzed us off the weak side. (The LSU defense) forced us into throwing to a short receiver and only picking up four or five yards."

Most could tell after the first Arizona possession ¸ the start of the barrage of three-and-outs ¸ that the LSU defense was just too quick for the Wildcat offense, and the problems just continued to pile up.

"Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong," Costa summarized.

Nothing negative could be said against an out-matched Arizona defense that spent most of the first half on the field chasing after LSU receivers.

"Our defense did the best they could," Costa said. "(LSU) was just way too much."

Most critics believed that for Arizona to win, it had to make a statement on their first drive. But after their first three plays, Arizona went for minus-two yards. Punter Danny Baugher began an unexpected long night, tag-teaming James Molina for 10 punts on the evening.

"We had a couple things happen on that drive," Costa said. "There were a couple of fumbles that if we get, it could have changed (the game) in our favor."

The first half was a tough one for both quarterbacks in which they completed a combined one pass for 19 yards on 12 attempts with an interception.

"We didn't have a lot of success doing anything," Costa said.

With Oregon in town next week to begin the Pac-10 schedule, the Arizona offense needs to look past a showing that had few, if any, bright spots.

"This week we have Oregon and things could be completely different," Costa said. "We go out with a good game plan and a lot of things could work against them that didn't work against (LSU)."

The young Wildcat offense will have to move on from the third worst loss in the 74-year history of Arizona Stadium. A 75-0 loss to Michigan St. in 1949 and a 65-12 rout at the hands of Colorado in 1958 were the only two greater catastrophes.

"I'm not sure what the positive things are going to be, but we'll find some things and then we'll build on that," Mackovic said.

With that, Costa could only say one thing as to what the Wildcats' mindset will be the next time they step on the field.

"Different game, different week."

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