Oklahoma State a “great challenge but great opportunity” for Wildcats

Arizona Sports News online

The first game of the Arizona Wildcats season was not what the team and fans alike were expecting despite the win in overtime against Toledo.

The biggest thing that stood out were the points that were left off the board due to penalties or lack of execution. Two game-breaking touchdowns by Ka’Deem Carey and Daniel Jenkins called back because of penalties around the line of scrimmage and the two missed field goals by John Bonano adds up to 20 points un-accounted for.

“There are a lot of mistakes we made in that game that we didn’t make in scrimmages or practices that we have to clean-up,” said Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez at his weekly press conference on Monday. “We take care of the football and we take a lot of pride in that. That was not good at all on Saturday. They understand the quality of the type of opponent we have this week if we want to win the game.”

That opponent is a program that has not been so nice to Arizona over recent years. The Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The two teams met for the first time in 68 years at the 2010 Alamo Bowl where the Cowboys won 36-10. Then again last season in Stillwater, Oklahoma where it was a similar result, 37-14. Now with the Cowboys coming off an 84-0 season opening win over Savannah State last week, the Wildcats will welcome another very talented Oklahoma State team to town.

“It’s an opportunity for us to play a ranked team,” Rodriguez explained. “I told our team there’s not a lot of people who talk about Arizona football in certain circles, and if you want to become more relevant, the best way to do it is to beat a ranked team. It’s a great challenge but also a great opportunity.”

“They have a well-established program and they have great coaches,” said Arizona Center Kyle Quinn. “They have athletes on defense. Watching film today, they fly around, they make plays and they blitz a lot. We have to be ready to play a great game on Saturday.”

You would think there would be a lot of familiar faces seeing as these teams are meeting for a third straight season. But some of the main characters involved will not be present this time. Nick Foles has been the man under center for the Wildcats in this match-up and the quarterback on the other side, Brandon Weeden, are both now gone and in the NFL. Same is said for Justin Blackmon, Juron Criner and many others.

The new face of this Cowboys team burst onto the scene last week. True Freshman quarterback Wes Hunt, who did not play a ton last week because of the lop-sided score. But did make a huge impact when he was on the field, leading the Cowboys on scoring drives on each of their first five possessions of the game. They were the only five possessions he played and didn’t throw one incompletion in the process.

“He may be young but he has good reads and our defense has to play the same,” said Arizona Linebacker Jake Fischer. “He is starting for a reason. We are going to be aggressive and go after the ball.”

“From the start, he wasn’t challenged at all,” added Rodriguez. “It looked easy for him, but that’s what you want from a quarterback, for them to look composed and make it look simple.”

It will be important for the Wildcats to keep up on the offensive side of the ball. That responsibility once again falls into the hands of fifth year senior Matt Scott who had an outstanding season opener. Scott made barely any mistakes against Toledo completing 30 of his 46 passes for 387 yards and two touchdowns.

“Matt (Scott) was pretty composed, he’s a competitor, and he made plays when he had to,” Rodriguez mentioned. “After watching the film, he’s saying we could’ve had a lot more points if we had just hit a few more plays. I’m excited for Matt. Everything we thought we had this spring, he’s shown us this fall. And it’s going to be a tough one this week for him, but we’ve got a good one in Matt Scott.”

Scott and the Wildcats continue work all week leading up to their big home test against Oklahoma State on Saturday. Kick-off will be at 7:30 from Arizona Stadium.

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