Tim Kish watched game film of the Arizona Wildcats' 42-31 loss to Washington with both a critical eye and rose-colored glasses. With four games remaining in a lost season, the UA's interim head coach is making a conscious choice to accentuate the positive.
Plus, there's no reason to pile on.
"There's no doubt that we had a 60-minute, gutty performance," Kish said Monday. "The guys played hard from the first minute to the last."
Kish had three reasons to be encouraged:
• Quarterback Nick Foles threw for 388 yards, and Juron Criner caught 11 passes for 118 yards and two scores.
• The Wildcats' defense forced three turnovers, scoring a touchdown when Robert Golden returned Keith Price's errant pass 91 yards for a score.
"I thought it took 2 1/2 days for him to get into the end zone. I never saw anything that lasted that long in my life," Kish said. "That cracked me up. Didn't that seem like it was in slow-motion, or something? I watched it on film again and it was in slow motion … I was like, 'Please get there.'"
• Place-kicker John Bonano was perfect again, connecting on three field goals and two PATs.
"There's no doubt that we're geniuses getting him on the field," Kish said with a laugh.
Still, the Wildcats (2-6, 1-5 Pac-12) have plenty to clean up as they prepare for Saturday's homecoming game against Utah.
Foles committed three turnovers against the Huskies, and Criner - while he posted stellar numbers - was responsible for a backbreaking fumble in the fourth quarter.
Arizona's defense allowed UW tailback Chris Polk to tally 244 yards and five touchdowns. Bonano's stellar play masked the fact that Arizona fell short in three red-zone trips.
Still, Kish said he had reason to be excited about this week's game. And his players, while bummed out - and banged up - should be able to rally heading into the final month of the season.
"They all woke up this morning, the sun is shining," Kish said. "That's the way we're approaching this thing."
Buckner, Johnson out
Wide receiver Dan Buckner and cornerback Cortez Johnson are expected to miss this week's game, and Golden and cornerback Shaquille Richardson are questionable to play because of other injuries.
Buckner separated his shoulder in the second half Saturday, and left Seattle with his arm in a sling. Johnson, a true freshman making his first career start, suffered his second concussion of the season and is likely out.
Richardson's injury was surprising, given that he was suspended for the Washington game because of his role in an Oct. 20 brawl with UCLA.
Kish said the cornerback suffered a high ankle sprain in practice late last week.
Coaches will shuffle the secondary to fill in for their injured defenders. Jourdon Grandon, who missed last week's game because of the suspension, will move to cornerback this week.
Tra'Mayne Bondurant will take Grandon's old spot, nickel back, but he also will see some time at linebacker.
Running on empty
Expect the Wildcats to run more often against Utah after attempting just 16 rushes times for 36 yards against the Huskies.
Washington practically dared the UA to throw, offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said.
"They blitzed almost every snap" with Arizona in rushing formations, Littrell said. "I thought we had some better (plays) out of those formations. We didn't run the ball very well, either."
• Coaches switched Kirifi Taula from defensive tackle to end against Washington, a move that could be permanent. The reason: The 6-foot-3-inch, 280-pound redshirt freshman has the size to match up with the tight end.
• Kish and Littrell praised left tackle Mickey Baucus. The Wildcats' offensive line surrendered just two sacks in 69 offensive plays.
"It's night and day from the opening of the season to where it is now," Littrell said. "You have a group that not only is young but there's been up and downs, different people being in and out with injuries and illness … That group is going to be a special group in the future."
• The UA's Nov. 12 game at Colorado will start at 12:30 p.m. and will be shown on Fox College Sports.
• What: Utah (4-4, 1-4) at Arizona (2-6, 1-5)
• Where: 4 p.m. Saturday
• TV; radio: Channel 58, Fox Sports Arizona Plus; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM