Last weekend, while Arizona was turning a 14-point deficit into a 21-point victory, the Wildcats’ next opponent, South Carolina State, was being dismantled by Bethune-Cookman on its own turf.
South Carolina State started the season on a high note, defeating Georgia State in the Georgia Dome on a Thursday night. The Bulldogs won 33-6, giving the team high hopes for the season.
“The Georgia State game was pivotal for us because we have a situation that is similar to what Savannah State went through,” South Carolina State Head Coach Buddy Pough said before last week’s game. “We have to go to Arizona and then play Texas A&M. We have to get a leg up on our schedule right now.”
The Bulldogs were looking to start the season 2-0, but Bethune-Cookman had other ideas. South Carolina State fell at home 27-13. The game was marred for South Carolina State by bad penalties and costly turnovers.
“Expectations are high around here and we got a pretty good fanny cutting this past Saturday,” Pough said. “We are all trying to figure out how we’re going to improve here in a hurry. We have to go out to Arizona and play there.”
Pough admitted that after the game, his players were deflated from the loss. The team seemed to be taking it hard during Sunday’s meetings and light practice. However, Pough expects his team to come ready to improve the rest of the week.
“We were a little bit goofy on Sunday,” he said. “We had a chance to get rested and get our minds settled. I’m hoping that we get them back today in a better state of mind, so we can start getting our game plan in for Arizona.”
The Wildcat are rolling with a 2-0 record and a top 25 ranking after upsetting Oklahoma State on Saturday and the Bulldogs are aware of Arizona's strength.
“It’s going to be tough,” Pough said of Arizona. “They beat Oklahoma State 59 to thirty-something this past Saturday. I think that might say it all right there. They’re about as fast paced and exciting as any team you will ever see.”
South Carolina State is coming into the game with only two games of film for Arizona under new Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez. So far, Pough has been impressed with the job that the Arizona coaching staff has done in less than a year.
“Coach Rodriguez has done a nice job of adapting his style of play to that program in a hurry," he said. "They do a nice job of keeping the pace up at a very high rate. They are extremely talented. They are extremely understanding of what they are trying to accomplish.”
Pough has taken a long look at Arizona and is dazzled with the personnel that Rodriguez fell into in Tucson.
“They have people everywhere,” Pough said “Their offensive front is really athletic and their running backs are fast as the dickens. Their quarterback can throw it and run it and they’ve got great wide receivers.
“Their defensive personnel is extremely disciplined and well coached. They kick the ball well, and they’ve got it all. It’s going to be a very difficult matchup for us.”