Off week offers chance to regroup
With intrastate rival Arizona State as the only team left on the Wildcats' 2004 Schedule, the UA football team has an extra week to prepare for the Sun Devils.
Traditionally, both schools have two weeks to get ready for the battle for the Territorial Cup.
Head coach Mike Stoops said it would help in preparing for the No. 20 Sun Devils with getting to look at their opponent that much more.
"We want to get as much repetitions of what they do as we can," said the first-year head coach.
Arizona had a week break earlier in the year prior to its 37-17 loss to the UCLA.
"It's always an advantage," said senior receiver Ricky Williams about the extra week of preparation "We can clean up things that we weren't able to execute against USC and focus on a lot of fundamentals."
Another thing the added week could provide is more time for both teams to instill the magnitude of the I-10 rivalry.
"Once you sign your letter of intent, you know that ASU is always a big rivalry game," said Williams. "All the young guys probably don't know how much this means, but they'll get a
first-hand feeling come next Friday."
Stoops said he doesn't expect to have to do anything special to motivate his team to get excited for their rival.
"We're going to go in doing the same things we've done all year, prepare as hard as we can," he said. "I think you try and keep it normal. I think the emotion comes natural. These guys won't need a pep talk come a week from Friday, they'll be ready to play."
DB Brooks, RB Harris expected back for ASU
Both the Arizona offense and defense received some good news on the injury front this week.
Junior captain Darrell Brooks returned to full practice yesterday, returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Wildcats' 49-9 loss to USC.
"He probably could have gone Saturday, but we just didn't want to aggravate his shoulder," Stoops said.
The junior safety was hurt in Arizona's 23-13 win over Washington two weeks ago and had been out of the line since.
The offense should get a similar boost with the return of junior runningback Gilbert Harris.
Stoops said he expects the Wildcats' second leading rusher to be back to 100 percent by the time UA squares off against ASU.
Youthfulness a positive during difficult season
In a 2-8 season it can sometimes be hard to find many positives, but one area where the Wildcats have reason to be optimistic about is their youth.
UA has three freshman defensive linemen who all have experience coming into next season, and two of those players can use a redshirt.
Johnathan Turner will receive a medical redshirt, Yaniv Barnett will return to the team without losing a year of eligibility and Paul Philipp has played a major role in Arizona's defensive line.
The defensive secondary also remains loaded and young.
The Wildcats return all four of their starting defensive backs, two of which are freshman and have three more in the wings to add depth to the secondary.
Freshman safety Michael Klyce redshirted this season as did junior college transfers Keil McDonald and Dramayne McElroy, both of whom were injured.
Stoops said the lack of injuries from a majority of the team's starters have allowed them to keep these players from being forced out of their redshirt.