By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
Same Seattle mistakes won't cut it in SoCal
Even after earning his first Pacific 10 Conference win as a head coach, UA football head coach Mike Stoops recognized his team's deficiencies, noting that the Wildcats are still making big mistakes that could hurt their ability to win, especially against this week's opponent, top-ranked Southern California.
"We turned the ball over three times Saturday and almost prohibited us from winning," said Stoops. "Probably against a better football team, we're not good enough to overcome those types of errors."
The Wildcats committed several errors that led to Husky points. Two Arizona fumbles resulted in six Washington points, two Wildcat penalties lengthened Husky drives and Arizona had two touchdowns brought back because of holding penalties.
"We continue to struggle and be our own worst enemy at times," said Stoops "It's the same story every week and obviously I'm as frustrated as anyone. I think we play hard, I just don't know if we play smart all the time. We have to continue to strive to play a lot smarter."
Stoops cited dropped passes, running wrong routes, turnovers and missed blocks as all mistakes that his team needs to correct and issues that could become even more apparent against the No. 1 Trojans.
"We have to play close to perfect," said senior tight end Steve Fleming about the prospects of beating USC. "We can't (make those mistakes) against SC. Mistakes we're making, you're not going to beat many teams. Against USC, if we make those mistakes we're going to find ourselves in a big hole."
Even though Stoops was concerned with his team's mistakes, he said it was nice to finally get a conference win.
"I'm happy that we won. I'm happy for our kids," he said. "They've worked tremendously hard, and to get a victory in conference is a good feeling. I know it's just one win, but we're obviously very excited and happy to go on the road and overcome some bad things and pull it off."
Brooks' bum shoulder could be big blow to UA
The Arizona defense could be facing a big blow if junior safety and team captain Darrell Brooks can't come back from a shoulder injury.
According to Stoops, Brooks is questionable for the Wildcats' contest against USC.
The junior captain left Arizona's 23-13 win over Washington with a shoulder injury in the second half and didn't return.
The UA defensive line got a bit of a boost this weekend with the return of sophomore defensive tackle Paul Philipp in Seattle. Philipp played sparingly in the win, but is expected to get healthier and should increase his playing time against the Trojans, according to Stoops.
Philipp had been out of the Wildcats' lineup since Oct. 9 when he hurt both shoulders in Arizona's 37-17 loss to UCLA.
Stoops: Dennard's day will come soon enough
Although freshman BJ Dennard saw just two plays on the offensive side of the ball Saturday, Stoops said the corner-turned-receiver should continue to see more time with the offense.
"We'll keep integrating him into the offense, so he'll continue to get more snaps offensively," Stoops said.
Dennard began taking snaps at receiver last week in practice and hopes to increase his playing time with the offense this week.
"It felt really good. It was like a dream come true," said Dennard. "I've been dreaming about it since I was a little kid."
Stoops said last week Dennard would continue playing on defense at his cornerback position, but wanted the freshman from Phoenix to get reps as a pass-catcher. He said it would be difficult for Dennard to see a substantial amount of playing time on offense right away because of the complexity of the system and the short time he has been able to try and adapt.
"It's hard picking up an offensive system in a week," said Stoops. "He'll be a bigger part of our offense this week. We have to get our best athletes on the field."
Dennard had one carry against Washington on a reverse play that picked up six yards.
Wildcats limit USC pair's Heisman Trophy hype
As the Heisman Trophy race picks up around the country, UA players should get a better look at two possible candidates this week in USC's quarterback Matt Leinart and running back Reggie Bush.
Several UA players were willing to chime in with their own Heisman selections yesterday in McKale Center.
Dennard thought Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson was most worthy, while junior defensive end Marcus Smith wanted to see Bush, a fellow San Diego native, pick up the hardware.
Fleming said Leinart had been the most consistent over the course of the last couple years and his team success has reflected that.
UA freshman cornerback Antoine Cason had a different outlook, however, saying it would be hard to pick between the Trojans' pair, let alone anyone in the country.
"There's a lot of good guys out there," said Cason. "I don't know who I'd give it to. I'm playing against a lot of those guys and I would like to take votes away from them if I could."
Stoops to show brotherly love to big brother Bob
Mike Stoops' older brother Bob might be cheering a little louder this week for his younger brother's team.
The Trojans, UA's opponent this week, lead Bob's Sooners in the Bowl Championship Series and a loss by USC could vault Oklahoma in first place.
"I'd love to help him out," Mike said, "if we can borrow a couple of his players this week."