Coach: No more moral victories wanted
TUCSON, Ariz. -- A week off left Arizona interim coach Mike Hankwitz feeling good about adjustments designed to shift his players' thinking from John Mackovic's program to his.
He's made it clear, though, that moral victories aren't on the wish list any longer.
"You would like to see them rewarded," Hankwitz said Monday. "You don't get rewarded for just effort and coming close. I hope that intensified our hunger to get a win and show we're continuing to make a climb."
During their six-game losing streak, the Wildcats (1-6, 0-3 Pac-10) had coverage breakdowns that led to nine opponents' scores on pass plays of 30 yards or longer -- and to Hankwitz emphasizing the need to break up potential game-breaking plays.
The defense managed to do that against UCLA on Oct. 11, but the Bruins still pulled out a 24-21 victory in which the decisive play was a defensive tackle's 55-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Hankwitz said what he hopes is the last close call before a win helped the players realize what it takes to win.
"They are starting to see the benefits and have put a premium on executing and making sure we are doing the right things," Hankwitz said.
The passing game also came under the microscope after throwing 15 interceptions, and the Wildcats may run more on first down.
Arizona was pass-oriented under Mackovic, who was fired Sept. 28, but Hankwitz prefers the security of a good running game, especially with the emergence of tailback Clarence Farmer.
Farmer led the ground attack against UCLA, with 122 of the teams 276 yards rushing.
Arizona resumes conference play this week at California, a game that conjures up memories of the primary crisis of Mackovic's tenure. The Wildcats had a six-game losing streak last year before their trip to Berkeley, Calif., and left days after more than 40 players complained to university president Peter Likins about Mackovic's verbal abuse.
Then they beat the Golden Bears 52-41 for their only Pac-10 victory of the last two years.
"It's going to be a tremendous challenge going up there," Hankwitz said. "I know a year ago it was a big game for the Wildcats, and I'm sure that will be on Cal's mind."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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