Stanford head coach Walt Harris had a large undertaking before him when he accepted the team's vacant position in December, leaving behind Bowl Championship Series-qualifying Pittsburgh.
In 2004, the Cardinal (2-2, 1-1 Pacific 10 Conference) finished on a five-game losing streak en route to a 4-7 overall record, 2-6 in the Pac-10.
Stanford, Arizona's (1-4, 0-2) opponent tomorrow at Arizona Stadium, has renewed direction in 2005 under Harris, who serves as both head coach and the university's Bradford M. Freeman director of football.
It's a facelift not unlike that Arizona underwent last year, when Mike Stoops took the reins following the disastrous 2 1/2-year tenure of John Mackovic.
"(Stanford is) a much improved team," said Stoops, who will be facing the Cardinal for the first time. The two squads last squared off in 2002, a 16-6 Stanford win.
"You can see them gaining confidence," Stoops said. "They're starting to execute some things."
The Cardinal started the 2005 campaign slowly with a narrow 41-38 win at Navy and an embarrassing 20-17 home loss to Division I-AA UC-Davis, but has since rebounded with a road Pac-10 win Saturday at Washington State.
Both of Stanford's wins have come away from Palo Alto, Calif. - double the number of such victories from a year ago.
Arizona senior safety Darrell Brooks said the similarities between Stanford's transition from former head coach Buddy Teevens is similar to the Wildcats' under Stoops last year.
"We're identical programs," he said. "They're at a point right now where they're trying to get a hold of everything. - It's a big change and a lot of new things for them, and as the weeks have progressed, they're better."
The Cardinal progression culminated in their performance in Pullman, Wash., with the offense accumulating a season-best 473 total yards.
Largely behind the outpouring was senior quarterback Trent Edwards, who Stoops said gives the Cardinal offense another dimension.
The 6-foot-4 quarterback finished with 257 yards on 19-of-28 passing with three touchdowns, on top of 12 carries for 92 yards.
"It was very exciting to see us run the football," Harris said at his weekly press conference Monday. "When (Edwards) scrambles up the middle, it will help our passing because teams will have to be more cautious about how they rush."
Edwards' ability to scramble is something of which Brooks said he is well aware.
"He's a damn good quarterback," he said. "He's one of those who steps out of the pocket and can bust out for 10 or 15 yards."
Stoops said the key to limiting Edwards' production is getting to him while he's still in the pocket, a task that begins with the defensive line.
"We're going to have to do a great job of containing him in the pocket, defending his legs as well as his arm," he said. "They've got better pass protection, and that's enabled them to throw the ball down the field better."
Edwards spread the ball to six receivers Saturday without an interception, including receiver Mark Bradford, whom Edwards found twice for scores.