One


October 30, 2005

(UA 29, at OSU 27)


We won.

The University of Arizona football team won.

Wow, my keyboard actually does type those words.

We won!!! All the adjectives fit: ugly, sloppy, stressful, terrifying, agonizing. But they all sound beautiful when they end with W.

You know what starts with W? Willie. Or, as Sean Mooney's All-Access Pass taught us: William Coonley Lemalu Sevea Makapovi Tuitama Elaleni. You think that license plate is taken yet?

"Wow" also starts with W. "Whoa" does too. So does "We have this guy on our team??"

Thirteen of twenty-two for 335 and two touchdowns. Twenty-six yards a completion. Fifteen yards an attempt. No interceptions. A single sack. Game number One.

It must have been the fanny pack Willie was wearing under the fanny pack stripe on his uniform. You know what they say: Wear two fanny packs, kick much fanny.

This was our 300-yard passing game since John Mackovic got carried off the field.

This was the first time we held a second-half lead this year against a team not called the Lumberjacks.

We had timeouts at the end of both halves! Hold on!! This needs more exclamation points!!!!

From the Did You Know (How Bad We've Been) department: This was our first October win since 2000. We snapped a 22-game losing streak in the month of Halloween. Now that's scary. Look out though, we own November (2-1 last year, baby).

It's official: Mike Thomas is Superman. We just have to find those kryptonite patches on the field at Arizona Stadium and dig them up. Seriously, Money Mike and Willie need to hang out until they think as one. If Willie wiggles his pinkie, Mike goes deep. If Willie lifts his left eyebrow, Mike breaks to the sideline. If Willie orders the chili cheese fries, Mike's already there with the extra napkins and Rolaids.

And they're both true freshmen. TuiThomas is going to do some amazing things.

I'm very happy to see that Willie follows the Golden Rule of Underdog Football: When in doubt, throw it deep. It's better to strike out swinging for the fences than while attempting to bunt. Huck it down field, big fella.

Hopefully this was Anthony Johnson's breakout game. He had three receptions and I didn't hear one drop. They weren't puny routes in the flat either. A 68-yard reception, a 31-yard play, and an 18-yard touchdown. It sounds like he also got jobbed out of a fourth big catch. Welcome to the big time, AJ. Take off your coat and stay a while.

How about Nick "Danny Baugher Jr." Folk? I'm giving him a pass on the PAT's because of the new holder. He and Build This House With will get things straightened out by next week. But man that was a huge punt at the end of the game. Willie and Michael Johnson wrapped up game balls, but we'll give Nick the game shoe.

Mike Haas is the baddest white man since Rambo. That is all.

Why did we finally not lose? We won the turnover differential by six and the penalty differential by eleven. That'll win you a lot of games.

The fact is however, it almost didn't win this one. Our Wildcats sure don't do things the easy way do they? We had 15 drives and only 14 first downs. We got out-rushed 218 to 49. We gave up 654 total yards. We missed two extra points. We turned a first and goal at the one into three points. We increased the number of gray hairs in Tucson by 37% (and that's a lot of gray hairs). But we won.

Three weeks ago I said we started a new season. Well, that season is over. We were 1-4 in the Pre-Season, 0-2 in the New Season, but now we're 1-0 in the New New Season: The Willie Season.

--

I don't know the sound of one hand clapping, but the sound of one Wildcat victory is pretty dang loud. But here's the corner we can't seem to turn: Two. In 2002 we had Cal. In 2003 we had Washington. We had Washington and ASU last year but all that momentum evaporated long ago. One doesn't do you much good unless you get to two. And three real wins would ease a lot of early season pain and make us feel a whole lot better about 2006.

So what now? We go for two. It's too late to play for a bowl, but we can finish with a better record than last year, and we sill have a mathematic chance of hitting my LOAD of five wins. But it all starts with two.

On top of getting better with every practice, every snap, and every game, here's a Meaningless Fan Goal for the offense: Finish 2005 with a 21 points-per-game average. That's still not enough to consistently win in the Pac-10, but it would be a full touchdown improvement over last year. Right now we're averaging 20.75 points a game. We would need 65 points in the final three games to hit a three TD average.

MFG 2: Get Mike Bell 1,000 yards. I know he's got hands like Teflon. I know he's not Reggie Bush, or Maurice Drew, or Yvenson Bernard. But he's busted his butt here for four years. He endured the Clarence Farmer garbage. He single-handedly won Hankwitz's only victory. He dropped 139 on ASU last year. I want him to go out in style.

Bell needs 355 rushing yards to get to 1,000. If he can't do that, 255 gets him his third straight 900 yard season. If he can't do that, 144 makes him the fifth Wildcat ever to rush for 3,000 yards in a career.

Oh, and I want to get Chris Henry more carries so he's ready for next year. I guess we're going to need to pick up a lot more first downs if we're going to gain all these rushing yards.

Here come the Bruins. Eight and zero. Number seven in both polls. We all know the league, the media, and the vast majority of western college football fans would want nothing more than for USC and UCLA to be undefeated when they play on December 3rd. The Pac-10 would have a championship game. Los Angeles would have a pro football game. And the West Coast would be guaranteed an unbeaten team playing in a big time bowl game.

But we don't care about any of that. We need a win just as badly to get our New New record to 2-0 and maintain our high ranking in the Made-Up Championship Series. (My 386 is on the fritz so I'll have to get back to you on the MUCS computer polls.)

Forget shocking the world. Let's just really annoy it.



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