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October 6, 2008

(at UA 48, UW 14)

Let the revisions begin.

“If we would’ve had Rob Gronkowski we wouldn’t have lost to New Mexico!”

“If Robby plays against Idaho we would’ve scored 137 points!”

“If Gronk plays the whole year there’s no way we need an economic bailout!!”

It would be wise to take a deep breath and remember things get a lot tougher for the Cats from here on out. Stanford has three wins while the four teams we’ve beaten have a combined four wins. I’m not complaining about our schedule, I’m just saying it’s a good thing we don’t have to mark to market.

(Don’t worry, that’s the last one. None of the rest of my jokes are subprime.)

David Hasselhoff made his return to the Zona Zoo and caused quite the pregame stir. But shortly after the ball went into the air it was clear to all:

GRONK! > Hoff

It sure is nice having a tight end who finds the end zone on 62.5% of his receptions, isn’t it? Gronkowski already leads the team with his five touchdown catches. He only had six TDs all last year. It’s fitting we finished with exactly 48 points.

Tuitama is doing a better job of looking off the safety this year, especially in the red zone. But we’re getting to the point where Willie could be looking at the bottom of his shoe while checking his cell phone and the defense will still triple-team GRONK!

[We interrupt this GRONK! gushing to offer our condolences to the Chicago Cubs, the Arizona Football Wildcats of pro baseball.]

As you know, I’m a Red Zone dweller and I’ve come to the conclusion that the best live football moments are when a player on your favorite team scores on an interception or punt return while running right at you. Thank you, Mike Thomas, for one of those moments. I also appreciated the added flair of leaping that small Dawg in a single bound.

It all added up to two points away from free tacos by halftime. (Follow-up to last week’s tacofesto: So there I was, midday Sunday, with an extra game ticket in my pocket and some space in my stomach. I hit the JITB drive-thru, went home, got settled in and – lo and behold – they had put four free tacos into my bag instead of two. And the cheap shall inherit the earth.)

The Bonz killed that 49-yard field goal. Yes, he had a stiff breeze at his back, but the way it hit halfway up the net was Folk-like. Now we just have to get him to quit kicking the ball out of bounds once a game. Are you telling me seven kickoffs, five extra points, and a field goal are enough to wear you out?

[We interrupt this kicker-kidding to do some math: Lute is 74. His new fiancé is 47. It must be true love. Either that or dyslexia.]

Now we start to find out exactly what we’ve got with this here Wildcat football team. The Pac-10 is already sorting itself into distinct strata. USC is still at the top. You’ve got Cal and Oregon in tier 2, and OSU, ASU, Stanford and UCLA in tier 3 (there should probably be a tier 3.5 for UCLA with their QB situation, but let’s keep things simple). The Washington schools are at the bottom (in the tier of tears).

The big question is: Where do you put Arizona? We'll find out these next two weeks. If you beat Stanford and play Cal tough, you’re officially duking it out in tier 2. But if you lose to Stanford, you remain stuck in the mire of mediocrity.

There are bowl bids available for teams in tier 3, but it’s the tier 2 teams that have a shot at a really nice season. To get into that discussion we have to beat Stanford.

This would be a great week for the offense to explode on the road. The New Mexico loss was our only game under 30 points and against UCLA we only had 17 points after three quarters.

On defense you have to be concerned with the way the Lobos and Bruins were able to run on us. Stanford’s game plan is going to be to pound the ball, keep our offense off the field and shorten the game. But if we can get an early lead their power running game either goes on the shelf or starts working for us in running out the clock.

You really want to force this Cardinal team to put the ball in the air. Tavita Pritchard threw three interceptions against Notre Dame. They came on 3rd and 15, 2nd and 17, and 2nd and 16. Get Stanford in obvious passing downs and there are plays to be made.

(Bonus note: All three INTs came after a Stanford penalty pushed the Cardinal behind the chains. We need to maintain our discipline and leave them to the own-foot-shooting.)

We’re so close. Just one win away from the record we have to have. Take care of business and we can start to dream a little bit. But turn in another bad road performance and it could start a three-game slide that flushes it all down the drain.

Gotta win one more.

Till then, hold off on the tiers.

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