Team preview: Arizona

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(All information as of July 1, 2005)


Second-year Arizona head coach Mike Stoops has lost none of his confidence and swagger after enduring a somewhat frustrating first season and more losses last year than his previous four as Oklahoma's defensive coordinator.

And while his older brother, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, has lost 12 games in six years as head coach, Mike Stoops knew it wasn't going to be that easy at Arizona. From the start, Mike Stoops made recruiting his No. 1 objective. In February, Stoops and his staff delivered one of the nation's top recruiting classes. And while most consider it top 15, there's a chance that in five years some might look back on it as top five and the turning point of the Arizona program.

Arizona's 3-8 record in 2004 was a bigger step up from its 2-10 mark of 2003 than one additional victory would suggest.

First off, the non-conference schedule was among the conference's toughest with Utah and Wisconsin. And the Wildcats played well in each, losing to Utah, 23-6, and narrowly falling to a strong Badgers team, 9-7.

This season, Arizona again plays Utah, but that should be an interesting game after the Utes having lost coach Urban Meyer and about 15 starters. Purdue and Northern Arizona visit Tucson this season.

In Pac-10 play, Arizona lost to Washington State, 20-19, in the opener and then dropped four straight in less than competitive fashion. But it rebounded to win two of the last three, including a stunning home victory over nationally ranked Arizona State, 34-27. The 34 points were especially shocking -- only one of the other 116 Division I-A programs in the country scored fewer points than Arizona's 164 in 2004. Stoops credited the win with helping his program land four of the top recruits in Arizona.