Random Thoughts

One of the more exciting Arizona sports weekends in recent memory got me thinking. So, without further ado, here's what's been on my mind over the last 72 hours.

For those who closely follow Arizona sports it shouldn't come as a surprise that our football team's upset victory over Cal on Saturday was quickly followed by our highly ranked men's basketball team being upset by an unranked Virginia squad.

If there was still a question as to who Arizona's team leader in football is, Sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama erased all doubts when in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter young Willie literally pushed defensive coordinator Mark Stoops aside so that he could address the defensive unit before they took the field.

In basketball, we all know Mustafa Shakur is a great player. I'm just not convinced that he himself knows that we all know this. Time and again, Staf plays as if he's out to prove to the world how good he is instead of letting his natural basketball instincts takeover. When he does play within the flow, his gifted athletic ability emerges and he almost always outshines his opponents.

The truth hurts: Over the past 20 years, Arizona rarely has a successful postseason when they don't beat quality teams out of the conference. The loss to Virginia was a bad loss. Even when the Wildcats won the national title in 1997 and struggled to an 11-7 Pac-10 record, they still went 10-1 out of conference and won the preseason NIT. It's still early, but Arizona must find a way to play better so they can win games against the several top 20 teams who are on their schedule in the next two months.

I'm completely opposed to referring to any Arizona defensive unit as being Desert Swarm except for the Arizona teams that played during the actual Desert Swarm Era from 1992 to 1998. Still, the group that lined up against Cal on Saturday was flying all over the football field, gang tackling the Bears, batting down passes, jumping routes, and getting penetration. They were, in a word, disruptive.

The catch phrase "Stoops before Hoops" has never rung more true than this season.

I would hate to be the UCLA Bruins right now. Next year they get the unfortunate draw of playing the Wildcats on Homecoming Weekend.

Freshman fullback Earl Mitchell, 6-2/250, is a game changer. Whether he's catching passes or unleashing devastating blocks, Arizona is a better offense when he is in the game. It was Mitchell's block of a blitzing Cal linebacker that helped free Chris Henry for the touchdown that made it 17-10. If Mitchell didn't pick up the blitz, the play would have been at least a 3-yard loss.

Henry again ran with an attitude. He only had 53-yards on the ground, but each one was hard fought. The evidence is in his two touchdown runs where he broke tackles on both plays in order to get into the end zone.

Tuitama looked rushed in the first quarter. Once he realized that his O-line was buying him the precious extra two seconds that he had not yet had this season, he settled down and began to plant his feet before throwing. His accuracy improved, his receivers made the catches and Arizona was on its way.

Credit Arizona's co-Offensive Coordinators for sticking with the running game in the second half. Although the gains were minimal, it forced Cal to honor the run which enabled Syndric Steptoe and Mike Thomas to work one-on-one on the outside.

Sophomore Strong Safety Michael Klyce and Redshirt Freshman Defensive Back Corey Hall both looked great in filling in for the injured starters. They proved that Mike Stoops and his staff are doing things the right way by recruiting depth at all positions.

I'd give a game ball to Freshman Devin Ross for his outstanding special teams play. Steptoe gets another for his all around offensive performance while Antoine Cason gets one for making the defensive play of the season. Our entire linebacker core should be recognized as well, as should Wilrey Fontenot, Marcus Smith, Mike Thomas, Henry, Mitchell and Tuitama.

I can't believe USC is in line for another shot at the national championship. If they beat Cal, Notre Dame and UCLA, I can't see the computers keeping them out of the title game.

Goodbye Louisville, Texas, Auburn, Cal and West Virginia. Whether it's fair or not, they're out.

Teams on the still alive list: Florida, Arkansas, Notre Dame and the Ohio State/Michigan loser.

There's no denying that the SEC has some of the finest defensive coordinators in the business. So, can somebody explain to me why none of them can figure out that whenever Florida's Tim Tebow replaces starting quarterback Chris Leak at key moments in the game all Florida does is run a quarterback draw. It was amazing to me to watch South Carolina take the bait as Tebow dropped back and then scampered 12-yards up the middle for the go ahead score with 3:03 to play.

ESPN's Dan Patrick brought up a good point this morning. If the NFL is so quick to fine its players for not properly wearing their uniform (i.e. one sock lower than the other) then shouldn't they fine coaches for dressing like slobs? Two of the league's most notable coaches, Bill Parcels and Bill Belichick, have practically made wearing baggy sweatshirts, khaki pants and white tennis shoes an art form.

The NFL is again proving to be a betting man's nightmare. The underdogs were 9-4 on Sunday.

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