Rich Rodriguez sounds wake-up call for Arizona Wildcats at Fort Huachuca



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The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 19 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.

Similar to a sugar rush, Arizona’s football team, especially its offense, hit the wall at Fort Huachuca last night. Instead of five-hour energy, the Wildcats need a five-month commitment.

“When our guys talk about making a commitment and sacrifice, you know, come on,” a perturbed Rich Rodriguez said after the last practice at the military post. “A commitment? The men and women here at the post are making a commitment. …

“Our guys have to be more competitive. It’s as simple as that. I told them that. You know, you can call me a mean guy or whatever but I’d rather be called that than a loser. The players got to be the same way. I don’t care what it is. You better be competitive or you are not going to last in this program. End of story.”

Mean guy is probably a G-rated version of what Rodriguez described himself to his team. Bob Knight, he is not. He does not have to be. Rodriguez can be that “mean guy”, however, and the UA players — many of whom endear themselves to his personable style — will take him seriously.

Rodriguez knows that before it is too late and the Wildcats become fat cats, he must be as demanding of them as Major General Robert P. Ashley is of his troops at Fort Huachuca.

Ashley addressed the Wildcats during their brief stay at Fort Huachuca. Rodriguez wants the Wildcats to take heed to Ashley’s speech, which must have included remarks about commitment, sacrifice and making the most of an opportunity, judging from Rodriguez’s comments with reporters last night.

“I can probably get five guys off the street. I can probably get a whole lot more than that here at Fort Huachuca, off the post … I guarantee I can get at least 10 guys off the post here who can block better than what we’re blocking. Easy.” — Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez commenting about the performance of his offensive line

The UA’s “hard edge” motto since its improbable win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December has been taken for granted by the players, fans and media because of developments superfluous to the core of the Wildcats’ objectives.

Normally a program that loses its starting quarterback, has a thin and unproven receiving corps and questionable defense is not as giddy about what lies ahead. It’s fine to be cautiously optimistic, but the Wildcats — again judging from Rodriguez’s comments last night — are showing a bravado that is a residual of the construction of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, those “Hard Edge” videos from Old Tucson and sleek new uniforms.

The feel-good nature of the program during the off-season even withstood the possibility of Heisman hopeful Ka’Deem Carey losing playing time because of his off-the-field problems.

Rich Rodriguez shows his disdain over the competitive nature of his team, especially the offense, after Saturday's practice at Fort Huachuca (WildcatAuthority.com video capture)

Rich Rodriguez shows his disdain over the competitive nature of his team, especially the offense, after Saturday’s practice at Fort Huachuca (WildcatAuthority.com video capture)

The UA lost four newcomers to academics and one of its valuable receivers — Tyler Slavin, the guy who made the winning catch against Nevada — was booted off the team.

All of that was here-today, gone-tomorrow kind of news in Tucson.

In past years, under the controlling John Mackovic and stodgy Mike Stoops, these kind of developments would create despair.

The Wildcats have continued with a sense of optimism, rightfully so, behind Rodriguez, who is a player’s coach and loyal to his staff. Of course, the UA can’t dwell on its problems. Rodriguez has certainly brought life to the program. Recruits are lining up fast to join. The fanfare over the renovated stadium, with the new turf, and the UA’s stylish new uniforms, has contributed to the energy the program has received during the summer.

Rodriguez is hoping that energy is more than just a jolt. By the fifth week of the season after Arizona opens the Pac-12 season at Washington and must travel to L.A. to face USC, the new facilities and uniforms, and making videos at Old Tucson, will be nothing more than that five-hour energy drink you had five hours ago.

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The best Arizona player to wear No. 19, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is saftey Allan Durden (1982-85). He started the run of UA’s all-conference safeties from San Diego’s Helix High, followed by Chuck Cecil and Jeff Hammerschmidt.


Last year, this site and TucsonCitizen.com ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series. I will relive that list here with less than 50 days to kickoff and add one game to it: Arizona’s improbable 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December, which landed as No. 38 on the list. Note, after clicking on the link, you will notice last year’s ranking. The list on this page is the current ranking.

No. 19: Arizona keeps “The Streak” without loss to ASU alive in ’87 with bizarre finish that ends in tie

No. 20: Arizona fit to be tied with Cal despite leading 26-3 in third quarter

No. 21: Zendejas’ last-second 45-yard FG vs. ASU generates momentum for “The Streak” to endure

No. 22: Arizona wins its first bowl behind “Heat-seeking Missile” Chuck Cecil

No. 23: Collapse vs. Utah after leading 27-0 in fourth quarter changed the face of UA football

No. 24: UA shuts out ASU, Kush during dominating run for Sun Devils coach

No. 25: Arizona’s defense and Doug Pfaff’s last-second FG enough to upset sixth-ranked Oklahoma

No. 26: UA upsets ASU from Fiesta Bowl consideration in program’s best stretch

No. 27: Trung Canidate rushes for record 288 yards and three long TDs in ’98 shootout against ASU

No. 28: UA dominates No. 3 SMU, highest ranked non-conference foe to lose to Cats

No. 29: Arizona stuns second-ranked Oregon in most significant victory in Mike Stoops era

No. 30: Arizona’s win on last-second FG over ASU ends Frank Kush’s dominance in the series

No. 31: Arizona reaches its zenith under Mike Stoops with victory over Brigham Young in Las Vegas Bowl

No. 32: Arizona owed Cal a couple, knock Bears out of BCS title, Rose Bowl run

No. 33: Arizona’s 10-9 loss at Oregon in 1994, derailing its Rose Bowl hopes, still hurts

No. 34: ASU ripe for picking in banana uniforms for “The Streak” to reach eight

No. 35: Arizona tries risky fake PAT to beat California but loses in epic 4 overtime game

No. 36: Veal to Hill “Hail Mary” pass highlights “The Streak” reaching seven games against ASU

No. 37: USC outlasts Arizona 48-41 in one of most wild games played in Tucson

No. 38: Arizona Wildcats’ comeback against Nevada No. 38 in Top 50 games list

No. 39: Arizona shows signs of life under Mike Stoops with rout over No. 7 UCLA

No. 40: Art Luppino “The Cactus Comet” rockets toward 38 yards per carry and five touchdowns

No. 41: Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time

No. 42: Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU

No. 43: Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA

No. 44: Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics

No. 45: Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally

No. 46: Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason

No. 47: “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish

No. 48: Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech

No. 49: Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State

No. 50: Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal

Dropped out: Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians

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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.


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