Flowers, Wildcats looking for repeat of last year's effort against talented but struggling Trojans.
By STEVE RIVERAFS Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. -- It was last October when Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez asked his team one question, and well, had to laugh at the response. Heck, he still laughs.
How many of them were recruited by Southern California?
"Three raised their hands, and two were lying," Rodriguez said again this week as UA prepares to face a struggling but talented
The one who was telling the truth was linebacker Marquis Flowers.
"He was a great athlete coming out of high school," said senior cornerback Shaquille Richardson, a southern California native who was not recruited by the
Trojans. "I'm glad we got him."
Flowers is glad he's here, too. In three seasons at UA, he has 179 total tackles, 100 coming last year at linebacker. He was moved there from the safety spot just before the season started. He enters Thursday's spotlight game with the Trojans with 19 total tackles.
“I’m really proud of Marquis, really since last year when he made that last minute move from safety to linebacker," Rodriguez said. "He had a solid year and did a really good job in the weight room. He got bigger and stronger, and he probably is in the best shape of his life coming into the season. He’s been playing really solid football for us, and he’s a guy that makes a lot of plays for us. He really bought in to being a linebacker, and he’s developed really good leadership skills."
They'll be needed if teammate Jake Fischer isn't available on Thursday. Arizona listed Fischer as questionable for Thursday's game after he suffered an ankle sprain against Washington. Surely Arizona will need another standout game from Flowers, who last season had a game of a lifetime against the Trojans. He had a couple of game-changers, picking off two passes and forcing a fumble.
That was last year, Flowers said. In other words, irrelevant.
"I don't want to talk about last year," he said. "I was in the right spot. It's going to be a different year. I hope I make the same plays if not more. You can't really go off last year."
Rodriguez said Arizona will need that same type of effort this week. USC, which will be playing its first game since the dismissal of head coach Lane Kiffin, is still loaded with a bevy of four- and five-star athletes. Arizona, well, not so much.
Rodriguez is hoping to get there at some point. Not that he doesn't like and admire his group. It did pull off the victory against USC last season -- 39-36 in Arizona Stadium.
Rodriguez said he's reminded his team what it'll take to defeat USC again -- Arizona hasn't beaten USC in back-to-back years since 1990-91 -- much as he's reminded them of not being recruited by the Trojans.
"It doesn't mean they can't play," Rodriguez said. "I'm glad they are here. You know they (the Trojans) are talented, and you know they will play at an extremely high level because of the circumstances they are in."
Richardson said he's not awed by USC's tradition and reputation.
"Just a regular team," he said. "It's a Pac-12 team. Pete Carroll was a great coach. They had a great team in that era. They're a good team. They come and play hard. We'll come and play hard, too."