Deja Vu

November 19, 2007

(at UA 34, Oregon 24)

It’s like deja vu.

It’s like deja vu.

(Actually, it’s supposed to be “déjà vu.” It took me 17 minutes to figure out how to type those fancy symbols.)

With Dennis Dixon out of the Heisman Trophy race, is it too late to throw Antoine Cason’s hat in the ring? 5uperman did it again. And again.

His NateNess started and ended the game with interceptions and now has five in just four starts. I loch that a lot.

Very quietly, defensive tackle Lionel Dotson is having an excellent senior year. He’s second to Spencer Larsen with 9 tackles for loss and he leads the team with 6.5 sacks. A tip of the hat to the coaching staff for making a Benz out of that Dotson.

Obviously we caught a large break when Dixon went down, but the Duck superstar wasn’t playing on defense or special teams so 24 of the 31 first-half points were scored straight up.

The defense gave up 463 yards of total offense but the Ducks only scored one touchdown in five red zone trips. The bend-but-don’t-break philosophy is fine if you stick to the don’t-break part. Well done, D.

Was it me or did it take an abnormally long time to untangle the pileup after that fumble on Oregon’s fake punt? It was like watching one of those nesting dolls being slowly opened one by one until way down inside the teeny tiny one they find…ARIZONA BALL!!!

We only had one scoring drive in the second half but it had a lot more than 30 minutes’ worth of suspense. First you had a pass to Gronk to convert a 3rd-and-4. Then you had Nic Grigsby’s barely-a-first-down rush on 4th-and-one. The very next play was the greatest 4-yard loss in UA history when replay showed that Willie Tuitama’s knee was down before the handoff to Grigsby that resulted in a lost fumble. And if that wasn’t enough we had to sweat it out as Jason Bondzio lined up a 46-yard field goal attempt to keep Oregon from having the ball with three minutes left and a chance to tie. That’s a lot of drama for three small points.

Because I know you love the uniform stats, I’m happy to tell you we closed the 2007 home schedule with a 2-0 record wearing blue-on-blue, 1-1 in red-on-blue, and 1-1 sporting the red-on-white. The interesting thing is we didn’t wear the traditional blue jerseys and white pants combo once all season, which has to be a first in a very long time.

(Reminder for December 1: White-on-blue, 4-1 record the last two years. White-on-white, four-game losing streak. You make the call.)

Now that was a win worthy of rushing the field. The streak continues – five years and counting. I am a bit concerned about the pre-rushing however. It was cute the first time (UCLA ’05) because that game was over in the first half and we were all waiting and waiting and waiting to get the party started. But this time it was a one-possession game until the very end, and in addition to the jinx potential you run the risk of a young person with more enthusiasm than knowledge of the game taking off early and leading the entire herd. Let’s just wait until the clock hits zero before unleashing the pandemonium.

I will say this: If you’ve never joined in on a field-rushing at Arizona Stadium I highly recommend it. After Thursday night’s victory I was out there with a buddy - two 30-something guys, each with a wife and children - and we’re chasing down players and shouting ridiculous things like, “You did your baby proud, Spencer! You did your baby proud!”

One tip for future stormings of the field: If you have a quarterback with a history of concussions, go ahead and avoid slapping him on the helmet as a congratulatory gesture. A simple pat on the shoulder pads will suffice.

So here we are, exactly where we were one year ago. The turnaround is even more improbable this time around. Last year the low point was 3-5 and we had the easy excuse of injuries forcing us down to third string on the QB depth chart. This year we dropped all the way to 2-6 with a 15-point deficit in the 4th quarter of the ninth game. When your goal is a winning season you can’t wait much longer than that to start the winning. Maybe Coach Stoops is just a procrastinator.

One game. One trophy. One mission. Win and you get to play again. Lose and you’re done. The records say we’re a little worse than last year and they’re a lot better. But that might be good news for our expect-the-unexpected team.

Last year we had everything to gain against a coach with nothing left to lose, and we lost it all. This year we again have everything to gain and they may have nothing to lose but the difference between the Holiday and Sun Bowls. Can we learn from last year’s mistakes?

And if all that wasn’t enough storyline for you, there’s some serious history at stake. Arizona State has not beaten Arizona in football three consecutive times since 1976-1978. The last time the same Wildcat coach lost three straight to ASu was Bob Weber who got fired after losing to the Sun Devils all four years from 1969-1972.

Mike Stoops, you really want to win this football game.

Let’s not do déjà vu.

[I’m taking another bye next week. Let’s hope the basketball season isn’t over before I get back.]

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