A case of "Tysonphobia"?

My friend in college, Tyson Kelly, claimed he had a rare mental condition. He called it "Tysonphobia", the fear of success. After Saturday night's game against Washington, I am starting to wonder if the Wildcats could be diagnosed with the same affliction.

For three seasons now the Cats seem to choke when faced with the prospect of success. A chance to beat Wisconsin, a false start pushes them back and forces a long field goal on a messy field.

We all remember the near miracle fumble against Washington State.

The next year the Cats dropped not one, not two, but five passes late in close games that would have either kept drives alive or scored touchdowns.

How many times did the Cats drive inside their opponents 30 only to jump offsides? How many drives stalled inside the 10?

Curious decisions by coaches and players have contributed. Throwing to the wrong receivers, failing to use timeouts, choosing to punt (or not punt) at the wrong time has plagued this team.

Even injuries have plagued this team. The Cats were rolling against ASU, even with leading receiver Mike Thomas hampered with an injured hand that rendered him nothing more than a decoy. So what happens? They lose Tuitama, Mike Bell and Brad Wood and the offense becomes impotent. Even though they stifle the potent ASU offense, they give up a punt return for a score and end up losing on a last second field goal.

Even when they do have some success, they cannot sustain it. They beat ASU to conclude the 2004 season, but lose the opener against Utah the next year.

Later in the season they go down 21 to Oregon, but battle back, tie the game and knock out the Ducks' starting quarterback. Even though the Ducks' offense can get nothing going, a Bell fumble is returned for a touchdown and the Cats lose 28-21. Two weeks later they utterly destroy UCLA, but follow it up the next game with a one-sided loss to a one-win Washington team.

Against Washington they blew their chances. Early in the game Marcus Hollingsworth dropped a sure interception that could have gone for a touchdown on the first drive.

They hold Washington scoreless for the first 20 minutes, in fact limit them to just 27 yards passing. 10 minutes later they trail 21-3 and have surrendered almost 250 yards of passing.

In the second half the Cats show some signs of life when they drive down to the four yard line and have first and goal. Two plays later they have third and goal from the 24. They still have a potential score when Tuitama hoists a perfect throw to Syndric Steptoe in the endzone only to have it slip right through his hands. Even worse, they missed the ensuing field goal.

The Cats missed more opportunities later on. Several key penalties and sacks killed drives and at least one more interception (that looked to go a long way) was dropped.

The fact is, the Cats are not good enough to overcome numerous mistakes. Frankly, one or two mistakes are enough to cost them a win. We can all speculate on why these mistakes occur. Some blame the coaching, some blame the players. Some feel it is a product of youth, while others feel this team just chokes. Some may even blame "Tysonphobia".

Whatever the reasons, the Cats better find a way to avoid these critical mistakes. The season, and possibly the program, depend on it.


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