By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Ignore which team jumps out to the lead first. Forget the score at halftime. Don't accept one team as the winner until the clock has fully expired.
Arizona watched Oregon come back from a 9-0 halftime deficit last week to pull off a 10-9 upset. It was d‚j… vu for the Wildcats ÄCal came back from a 20-0 halftime margin last year to score two touchowns in the last five minutes, eventually winning 24-20. For Arizona, that game was the difference between spending New Year's Day in Tempe and spending it in Pasadena.
The No. 18 Wildcats (6-2 overall, 4-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference) hope to prevent a second-half turnaround this time as they turn their attention toward a matchup with Cal at Arizona Stadium tomorrow night at 7:22.
"This is a pride sort of thing," UA coach Dick Tomey said. "With both teams coming off losses, it will be who has the most pride."
Cal (3-5, 2-3) now understands a little of what Arizona was going through on such occasions. The Golden Bears entertained a 20-0 lead in the first half over Washington State last week, only to lose 26-23.
What to make of such strange turnarounds? Teams can no longer lie down after controlling one half. The conference has too many strong teams.
Getting back on the field is important for the Wildcats, if for nothing else than
to erase memories of their problems toward the end of last week's game against Oregon.
"We have a real bad taste in our mouth that we want to get rid of," Smith said. "We lost our cushion game. Somebody will lose down the stretch. We just can't lose ourselves."
Arizona hopes for more success on offense this time around so a late comeback won't be mandatory.
"I don't think we always get what we want. We'll just take where we are," Tomey said. "We had a pathetic performance offensively in the second half (last Saturday). When you don't block on the run and get open on the pass, it's difficult. That's pretty much everything."
Cal enters the game expecting second-stringer Pat Barnes to play quarterback. If Barnes isn't ready, wide receiver Ziv Gottlieb will again take over the position.
Quarterback problems and a primarily young team with just one returning starter on offense have caused Cal's fall this season from its 9-3 finish last year.
"We're basically starting all over," Cal coach Keith Gilbertson said. "We're not nearly the same group we were a year ago."
Five seniors lead the Golden Bear defense including All-America candidate Jerrott Willard, who has registered 71 tackles.
"Cal's defense does some of the same things Oregon does, they gang up on you inside," Tomey said. "Willard is certainly the guy whose gotten the most publicity. When you look at the film, you can't help to be impressed."
In the Tomey years, the Wildcats have gone 1-5-1 against the Bears, a fact that still haunts the coaches Äand if not, the players Ä who have suffered some of those losses.
"They're our monkey on our back," Smith said. "Just like Stanford can never get it done against us, we have never been able to get it done against Cal."
Read Next Article