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Gimino: UA football team showing togetherness

A Saturday smorgasbord of sense and nonsense (the all-football edition):

Arizona has been talking about better football through chemistry since camp began, and the 70-0 opening-night victory against Idaho only reinforced that notion.

So does the new sticker on the back of UA’s helmets – a logo of Fort Huachuca, where the team trained for a few days and experienced new team-bonding kind of activities.

Anyway, it’s all led to a positive vibe as the Wildcats get ready to play Toledo at Arizona Stadium at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“This team is more accountable to each other, and they have been a very fun group to coach,” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.

“It leads you to being – I don’t want to say the word ‘softer’ – but we enjoy ourselves a little more because every day has been fun to coach. And that’s a credit to the guys because they work hard and they care.

“That’s not to say our other groups didn’t. It’s just been 100 percent. That’s what has been nice. This group is special that way, and that’s how you need to be.”

Junior offensive lineman Eben Britton said the same thing in a different way:

“Last year, we had some guys on the team that weren’t the best teammates.”

Poll talk

Arizona has one supporter among the 65 voters in the AP poll – Craig James of ABC. James had the Cats No. 23 in the preseason poll, and No. 24 in the first regular season poll.

Given the nature of UA’s first three opponents (Idaho, Toledo, New Mexico), the Wildcats – assuming victories – aren’t likely to pick up much more support until the Pac-10 season begins.

The good news is that UCLA upset Tennessee on Monday. That gives the Bruins a certain amount of cred, even if they lose at BYU next week.

If Arizona goes 4-0 with a win at UCLA on Sept. 20, then I think we can start to consider UA a Top 25 squad. But not until then.

Eye in the sky

UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes has changed his vantage point this season, calling plays from the press box instead of the sideline.

“I liked it actually,” he said about being upstairs for the Idaho game.

“You can see so much. It is just a little bit more relaxed atmosphere. I like that part of it. It’s going to help when it’s a close, tight game and there are a lot of bullets flying. It’s good to be up there and really communicate and talk.”

Church chat

Toledo’s top NFL prospect is junior safety Barry Church, already a two-time All-Mid-American Conference selection. Consider what he did against the Big 12′s Iowa State last season – 19 tackles, including three for loss.

Church told Toledo’s athletic Web site that Arizona’s victory over Idaho definitely got the team’s attention.

“Yeah, that gets us focused up a lot,” Church said.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, but 70 is a lot of points to score. Arizona has a very strong passing game with a lot of good players in the skill positions, and we’re going to have to play well to be successful.”

The envelope, please . . .

Underestimate teams from the MAC at your own peril. Toledo is definitely a step up in competition from Idaho.

But these Rockets aren’t as potent as recent editions, nor is Toledo expected to be among the class of its conference. Arizona should have its way along both lines, with all good things coming from that superiority. At least, that’s what should happen.

Last week’s momentum won’t mean a thing if the Wildcats come out uninspired or sloppy. Coach Mike Stoops needed to make this his hardest week of practice ever to prevent that from happening.

Let’s call it for Arizona, 45-14.

Anthony Gimino’s e-mail:


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