Cats want a shot at redemption

The day after the LSU game was not an easy one for Wildcat fans. For many, it was the first time in years they tried to avoid the sports page. Watching ESPN, meant a constant finger on the remote to turn the channel before the "highlights" came on. An off-season of anticipation was pretty much over before the 7:00 mark of the first quarter.

Monday was worse. After giving that ASU fan in the office a hard time the week before for the Sun Devils poor showing against NAU, he was on you twice as hard and you really had no comeback.

Even worse, the guy who was a Miami fan five years ago and now claims to be a lifelong USC fan (despite recent rumblings about the genius of Charlie Weiss) is giving you a hard time. Longtime Sun Devil fans are one thing, but the guy who jumps from team to team is another.

Even worse, you can't say anything because Arizona did play bad. Anyone who ever spent their hard earned money on a hat with the Arizona block ‘A' was at least a little embarrassed at the 45-3 loss in Baton Rouge.

Now imagine you are an Arizona player? You prepared all summer for a chance at impressing the nation on ESPN2 and you laid an egg. You did not only lose, there is no shame losing to a top-10 team, but the Cats were never in the game. It was over before it began. Seconds into the game Willie Tuitama had a concussion and within minutes the Cats were suddenly down 17-0 with no chance to claw their way back in.

"I was (embarrassed)," said Wilrey Fontenot. "My family was there. I don't want that feeling again. They are coming back out this week and that is something I don't want again. I am putting it all on the line this week."

That's right, the Cats get another shot at a top-tier team. They get a shot at redemption. After the poor outing against LSU the Wildcats welcome USC to Tucson. Like the game against the Tigers, this one is on national television.

The Cats get another chance to make a good impression to the college football world and they know it.

"We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to play against two top-10 teams," said safety Michael Johnson.

It is tough to take much from the loss to LSU being that it was so one-sided. The game film won't do much good, but the empty, hollow feelings inside the bellies of the Wildcat players and coaches should serve as a lesson. The Cats won't want to feel that way again and playing hard against USC would go a long way into alleviating the shame of the LSU loss.

"We're excited to step up to the challenge," said Paul Phillipp. "Step up, when it is time to. I think we learned a lot from that game. I am not glad that we went through that but it is definitely an experience we don't want to go through again."

Although the Wildcats looked confident before the game, that may not have been the case. Sure they stomped on the midfield logo and gestured to the crowd, but many players on the team wonder exactly how confident the players really were.

"Some players need to work on their confidence and need understand that they can play against good teams," Johnson added. "You're competing with another man on the other side of the ball."

Fontenot agreed with his fellow defensive back.

"They are men like we are," the junior corner added. "They put their pants on like we do. Don't be awestruck by whoever we play."

The Wildcats don't need to win the game. Few expect them to. USC is USC and they appear to still be a legitimate national title contender. They were a national title runner up a year ago and the Wildcats hung with them for 3+ quarters. A similar effort this year would go a long way into making players, fans and those who follow college football forget the LSU loss. A close, hard fought game would help show that the rebuilding process is a lot further along than it appeared in Louisiana.

Even more important, it would make going to work a lot easier on Monday.

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