By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Sympathy is the last thing the Arizona football team will be thinking about when it stares across the field at the Bruins tomorrow afternoon.
Even though UCLA has gone from first to worst in the Pacific 10 Conference in a span of one year, and despite the fact that there are friendships between the two, the No. 14 Wildcats (5-1 overall, 3-0 in the Pac-10 Conference) have little sympathy for the Bruins, whom they will face at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow at Arizona Stadium (Ch. 9). UCLA (2-5, 0-4), which has lost five straight, is merely another obstacle Arizona is being confronted with on its run toward a conference title.
During the game, UA quarterback Dan White will see J.J. Stokes, his receiver back in their days at Point Loma High School in San Diego. Stokes, the top returning vote-getter in last year's Heisman Trophy balloting, is expected to sit out the game with a deep thigh contusion, an injury suffered in the Bruins' opener which has forced him out of all but one game.
Wildcat right tackle Joe Smigiel will get to watch Wayne Cook, the quarterback he blocked for at Newbury Park (Calif.) High School, as Cook tries to maneuver around a rejuvenated Desert Swarm defense.
"I feel bad for him," Smigiel said of Cook, explaining that he feels sympathy for him because his team is playing poorly. "But not this week."
But most apparently, UA coach Dick Tomey will match wits against the man he worked under during his last year as a UCLA assistant in 1976 Ä Terry Donahue Ä the man who still coaches the Bruins today.
"He's obviously had difficult times before and turned it completely around," Tomey said. "He's come back and he will again. We have to keep him from doing that this weekend. I love him to death, but I hope whoever they play next week they kick the hell out of them."
The two teams could not be at further ends of the spectrum. After both sharing last year's Pac-10 championship with Southern Cal, the Wildcats have continued their conference domination while the Bruins have had a hard time picking up wins.
Clearly, injuries and the NFL took a lot out of UCLA. Missing Stokes, a record-setter last year with 17 touchdown receptions, has limited offensive production and the early departure (to the pros) of two of the Bruins' top defensive players, linebacker Jamir Miller and safety Marvin Goodwin, has also hurt.
On top of that, All-America sophomore kicker Bjorn Merten has faltered, making just 8 of 16 attempts.
Donahue wishes his team didn't have to meet the Wildcats.
"I don't relish anything about it, to be candid and frank about it," Donahue said. "I have a wonderful friendship with Dick Tomey but I don't look forward to playing him this year. I looked forward to playing him other years when we were stronger."
Meanwhile, Arizona has continued almost on the same path it did last year, albeit this time with the burden of a nonconference loss. The Wildcats understand the importance of the game, however, they haven't forgotten how last year they came off a similar close win over Washington State and then got trounced by the Bruins 37-17.
"We have to look out for them
because they'll be fired up to get after us," Smigiel said. "They have a lot of talent and they're still mostly the same team that handed us our lunch last year."
On UCLA's side, the players are the only ones who look forward to their chance to oppose the Wildcats.
"The kids like to play against the best," Donahue said. "Some coaches do. I prefer to play somebody I could pound every week and I would be as happy as a clam."
With their memories of last year's loss to UCLA and their desire to start another home winning streak after seeing it end at eight against Colorado State two weeks ago, it's doubtful anyone on the UA sideline will doubt the Bruins' capability.
A loss to a lowly team like the Bruins would seriously derail Arizona's hopes for the time being.
"What you see when somebody is desperate is guys play hard, they hustle hard and make plays that they haven't been making," Tomey said. "When guys think they have a very difficult challenge in front of them is when they play best. We have no doubt UCLA will play its best."
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