October 5, 2006

Tuitama: 'We have to turn this thing around.'

Last year, Willie Tuitama used a big performance against UCLA to make a name for himself, putting his school on the national radar at the same time. This year, Tuitama just wants to help his team out of an offensive slump that could do the 2006 season in if something doesn't change and fast.

On Sunday, Arizona's players held a team meeting to air out some of the players' grievances. Apparently, the team has played well together ever since.

Tuitama raved about his team's play after Tuesday's practice.

"We changed stuff up and it was a lot better," he said. "Our o-line did a real good job of pass blocking, run blocking and everything. I can probably say these are the best two practices that we've had."

Arizona's offense clearly has some deficiencies, namely in its offensive line and running backs. However, the coaches are working at masking the problems and that's been one of the team's focuses in practice.

"We're doing some things a little better to disguise (the problems)," said Tuitama. "I don't want to give it up but we're doing some real good stuff."

The UA offensive line has had a rough season, but apparently the linemen are motivated to prove themselves against UCLA.

"Our o-line is just tired of people talking about them," said Tuitama. "They're starting to take it seriously and that's good. They're [angry] because people are talking about them. They know that they're better than what they've been doing."

Last season, in Arizona's 52-14 win over UCLA, the Bruins' defense gave up 519 yards of total offense. This year, UCLA's defense is much improved, making the UA's task much more difficult.

"We looked at film from last year but their defense is a little better this year," Tuitama said. "They're playing a lot harder and they're playing their gaps."

Many are expecting UCLA's players to be out looking to avenge last season's loss to Arizona. Revenge isn't something that Tuitama personally thinks about.

"Either way you have to go out there play," Tuitama said. "We're going to be ready to play. We're going to their house. We have to turn this thing around. That's our own revenge for us as a team."

In last year's game against UCLA, Arizona had nothing to lose. This season, the Wildcats' backs are against the wall and the team looks to come out with that mentality.

"Coach (Mike) Stoops told us on Monday during the (team) meeting that we have to go out there and play desperate because desperate teams are dangerous. We have to go out there with nothing to lose. We're just going to go out there and play hard."

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