Little if anything positive came out of the LSU game last weekend. We lost our quarterback, many players were dinged up, our offensive line and special teams play digressed, our team's national exposure was limited to ESPN and Fox Sports highlights of monster defensive hits and touchdowns by LSU, and the overall perception by the casual fan is that Arizona is soft – just like every other Pac 10 school. If that wasn't enough, B.J. Dennard has left the team for undisclosed personal reasons and former 5-star recruit, Gabe Long, denied admission by our university not more than three weeks ago, has enrolled at the University of Utah and is listed on the team's active roster. While many critical questions of the LSU game and the week's revelations remain unanswered, our team has no other choice but to embrace the challenges ahead of them and move forward. Quite frankly, it's time for all of us to move forward.
Arizona is 1-1 and pretty much where every prognosticator except Lee Corso thought we would be. We face off against Stephen F. Austin at home tonight and should have the opportunity to work on several aspects of our offense and defense that will prepare us for the grueling Pac-10 schedule ahead. Although Tuitama most likely will not play tonight, we do have a serviceable backup in Adam Austin who will get his first start against the Lumberjacks.
I know what you're thinking, but don't roll your eyes just yet sports fans because I'm a big believer in Austin. First, he has the size. At 6 foot 3 and 218 pounds, Austin will be able to see over the line of scrimmage and fend off arm tacklers if pressured in the pocket. More importantly, though, Austin has heart and is committed to this university, something that can't be said for several previous Arizona quarterback hopefuls like Nic Costa, Ryan O'Hara and Richard Kovalchek.
When Tuitama took the helm last year it was obvious that Austin was destined to be his backup. Instead of transferring to a Division I-AA school so he could play right away, Austin has embraced his backup role and competes hard each day on the practice field, in team meetings, and during film sessions with aspirations of becoming the everyday starter. Austin is exactly the kind of player Arizona needs right now in our program. We need winners, not quitters. We need players who are willing to work harder then they've ever worked in their life knowing that if they're not quite good enough to start, or even play this week, then understanding that they'll have to push themselves and their teammates even harder the following week. Austin is this breed of player and over the course of an entire season his presence in the huddles and on the sidelines will ultimately make us a better team.
Tonight, Austin's challenge is to make us a winning team. The challenge for our fans is to rally around him and the others to ensure that we are a team with a winning record heading into next week's conference opener against USC.
Not only is it time to move forward. It's time to Bear Down!