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Wildcats’ defense tries to rebound

UA can't afford to give Cal receivers as much room as they did New Mexico's Josh Fussell, who hauls in a pass against Cam Nelson (20), UA

UA can't afford to give Cal receivers as much room as they did New Mexico's Josh Fussell, who hauls in a pass against Cam Nelson (20), UA

Arizona defensive coordinator Mark Stoops says the Wildcats need to play with an edge or they could look foolish at No. 6 California.

“When you play a great team that will expose you at any given moment, you have to play on edge or you will get flat-out embarrassed,” Stoops said. “That is what is so great about this week. The focus will be there.

“Cal is so good. They make you execute. You better be in the right position, or they will embarrass you.”

Kickoff is 3 p.m. Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.

The Wildcats rank eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring defense and passing after a 29-27 loss to New Mexico last weekend at Arizona Stadium.

“I was completely sick all day Sunday,” Stoops said. “I started losing that feeling after we watched (the replay) and corrected (some of the problems) with the players.”

UA is allowing 24 points, 267 passing yards and 352 overall yards a game.

As bad as the Wildcats may seem, defensive lineup changes are not planned.

Arizona plans to use the same schemes that worked in previous years, Stoops said, despite NAU scoring 24 points two weeks ago vs. the Cats and New Mexico passing for 327 yards against them.

“When no plays are starting to work, you get completely frustrated and things can look like garbage,” Stoops said. “It really was not the case. Did we play our best? No.

“We were not far off (against New Mexico),” he added. “They made plays and we didn’t. The combination of everything looks so sloppy.”

The Cats pressured New Mexico quarterback Donovan Porterie at times, getting three sacks, but they did a poor job of containing and tackling receivers Marcus Smith and Travis Brown, who combined for 285 yards in catches.

It didn’t help that Arizona defensive tackle Lionel Dotson and defensive end Louis Holmes were called for debatable roughing-the-quarterback penalties.

“The late hits, I can’t even get on their cases. I can’t,” Stoops said. “How can I get on their case when they are playing hard and they barely touch them? There was not one thing malicious about them, not one thing.

“Nobody is more disciplined than us, and I can’t get on them. Lionel was blocked into it. Louis was not one bit malicious. I didn’t feel they were selfish. Most of the time, you think players who cause a late hit are selfish. That was not the case.”

Stoops conceded that there’s plenty of work to be done, with California averaging 40 points and 436 yards a game.

“We have guys who are maybe pressing,” Stoops said. “People say we have 10 starters back, but does that make us the No. 1 defense in the country? No. . . .

“You have to play with great position on the ball and you have to play with a mental edge. That means being smart, playing hard and executing your assignments.”


‘I was completely sick all day Sunday.’


UA defensive coordinator

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