- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Arizona Wildcats will look to put last week's debacle at UCLA behind them and make a push for bowl eligibility when they host Colorado this weekend.
Chances are, they'll pick up win No. 6 against a Colorado squad that has dropped five straight and has allowed an average of 52 points per game during that stretch. Still, there were all sorts of problems for the Wildcats against the Bruins.
“We certainly didn't play well in any of the three phases," said Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez. "I thought we had a good week’s preparation but maybe we didn't Our guys seemed focused and right before the game I even mentioned to one of the coaches, the guys seemed extremely focused. We didn't play that well. You certainly have to give UCLA credit. They dominated us in every facet. It’s a learning experience for our guys. The good thing is that a lot of the stuff we saw, we can correct it this week. Some of the stuff, some of the inefficiencies cannot as easily be corrected, but it can be corrected and that will be our focus this week.”
The Wildcats (5-4, 2-4) still aren't sure if they'll have quarterback Matt Scott available. After suffering a concussion against the Bruins, Scott will continue to be evaluated throughout the week.
“I think we are dealing with hypotheticals, but our policy is that you at least have to take some reps on Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for Saturday," Rodriguez said. "Our quarterbacks do not get hit during the week anyway. We do very little hitting as a team. Most coaches don’t do it during the season, and our team is so thin. Taimi (Tutogi) got injured in brief contact last week in practice and missed a game Saturday. That wasn’t even a full-padded situation. We are very cautious about that. If Matt is cleared to go Saturday and everything is good, I think Matt can play well without a whole lot of reps. That is all hypothetical so I am not thinking about that right now.”
If Scott can't go, B.J. Denker will get the call.
“It doesn’t change the offense at all," said wide receiver Austin Hill. "We are going to go out there and play our offense. We are going to run our routes the way that Coach Rodriguez wants us to run them. B.J. is more than capable of running the offense.”
The 66-10 loss to the Bruins provided plenty of teachable moments. For example, 15 penalties for 124 yards -- well, that's bad. Losing the turnover battle 3-0 -- that's bad, too. But now the Wildcats are putting it behind them and moving on --- mostly.
“We already watched the film, and we learn from our mistakes," said linebacker Jake Fischer. "We saw that we didn't play very well. We've got to have a different attitude this week. This game doesn’t mean more than the next, so our focus is now on Colorado. We have to take it one game at a time. We are going to focus on the game plan and start from there.
“Colorado might feel that they have a better chance after our game against UCLA but we are going to prepare for them the way that we have been preparing for the other games. We’re not going to forget completely about the UCLA loss; we’re going to learn from the loss but that game is in the past. We have to treat this game like any other game and prepare for their formations and schemes.”
After taking time off from a bowl game last year, the Wildcats can get back into the postseason this week. And while Rodriguez hasn't gone out of his way to emphasize bowl eligibility as a goal, he knows what it would mean to his players and the program.
“It will be a nice goal," he said. "After I was first hired, we were sitting at home and 70 other teams were playing a bowl game. Our guys certainly did not like that, I wanted it to hurt. If you are a college football player at the Division I level and you aren’t playing a bowl game, you should be disappointed. We have not talked about it as being a goal but it is certainly out there for us.”
2dChantel Jennings and David Lombardi