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Cats ready for Duck hunt

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wildcat receiver Syndric Steptoe is hit on a punt return late in the fourth quarter by Louisiana State's running back Alley Broussard.
By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday September 12, 2003

First conference game offers shot at redemption

With the Oregon Ducks coming to town tomorrow, and another nationally televised game, the Arizona Wildcats have another opportunity to prove that last week's result was just a fluke.

After the Wildcats got bashed 59-13 at the hands of Louisiana State, the Arizona (1-1) coaching staff has spent the last week making sure its players stay focused, even after its worse loss in over a decade.

"We are focused on Oregon," quarterback Ryan O'Hara said. "We're going to use (last week) as a learning lesson."

The Ducks (2-0) come to Tucson undefeated after sliding past Nevada last week and beating Mississippi State the week before.

Oregon's offense has at least one thing in common with its opponent both teams use a two-quarterback rotation, with the Ducks rotating between redshirt sophomore Kellen Clemens and senior Jason Fife.

The two have combined for the third-best passing efficiency rating in the nation at 185.78, with wide receiver Samie Parker being their most-used target.

The wakeup call last week for the Wildcats has sparked new motivation throughout the locker room, and O'Hara believes that the LSU loss was just a stepping stone to help them with tougher conference games throughout the rest of the season.

"We've learned from our mistakes," O'Hara said. "Now we're just going to get better and we're going to prove that against Oregon (this weekend)."

O'Hara and sophomore quarterback Nic Costa combined for a total of 91 passing yards last weekend against the Tigers, the worst showing of the year and a different story from their

airraid on UTEP in their first game.

Even with an offense that stalled for nearly the entire game last week, Arizona understands this is a start of a new season in a season, the beginning of Pacific 10 Conference play.

"This game is important for a lot of reasons," senior tackle Brandon Phillips said. "It really is the most important of the (games) we played so far."

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona fullback Gilbert Harris breaks a tackle from Louisiana State cornerback Ronnie Prude during last week's loss.

Last year, Oregon came to Tucson to begin conference play and walked away with a 31-14 victory, the start of a horrendous conference stretch for the Wildcats.

With a win this week, Arizona would break a streak of 11 straight home conference losses, and is looking to win its league opener for the first time since 2000.

"We're going to find out how our team reacts to some adversity," Phillips said. "I know we are going to react well."

The only bright spot for Arizona last week was running back Clarence Farmer, who had eight carries for 61 yards and a touchdown, while looking to be back to his old self in the second half against LSU, giving Arizona its only offensive score in the waning minutes of the game.

With Saturday's game being televised on TBS for the second time in as many weeks, the Wildcats will look to show the nation they aren't as bad as they seemed last week.

"I know we are (going to) come back and we are going to fight, and I believe we are going to win," Phillips said. "(Oregon) is good and to be able to win; we are just going to have to play better all around."

The Wildcats have their chance at 7 tomorrow night at Arizona Stadium.

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