TUCSON — Arizona coach Mike Stoops, who didn’t have a winning record until his fifth season, has some sympathy for what Washington State coach Paul Wulff is going through.
Wulff, in his third season, is 4-27 overall and 1-20 against Pac-10 competition.
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For Stoops, progress in the early years was measured not by victories, but by narrowing the margin of defeat. That describes the state of the Cougars, who were tied in the fourth quarter with UCLA before losing 42-28 and who were within five points of Oregon late in the third quarter before taking a 43-23 defeat last week.
Arizona (4-1 overall, 1-1 Pac-10) plays at Washington State (1-5, 0-3) on Saturday.
“I see a drastic improvement,” Stoops said of Washington State.
“Fans, alumni, media … it’s all based on wins and losses, and that is what gets complicated about these jobs in terms of having enough time to rebuild them the right way. They have competed harder for longer periods of time, and that’s how they should be judged at this time.”
Junior cornerback Trevin Wade missed the first two days of practice this week but returned Wednesday and should be in the starting lineup Saturday. He suffered a thigh injury against Oregon State last week.
Even with Wade likely back, UA’s coaches and players have hinted at some potential changes in the secondary, perhaps schematically, after allowing Oregon State’s Ryan Katz to pass for 393 yards.
“I feel like that was kind of a wake-up call for everybody,” said cornerback Robert Golden. “That was the first game when somebody came at us with a strong passing attack, and it kind of let us know where we’re at and what we have to work on. There were a lot of mental mistakes, so I feel that they are correctable.”
Arizona could be without inside receiver Bug Wright, who has a shoulder injury and had his right arm in a sling earlier this week. He seems doubtful after not practicing for the first three days of this week.