BOULDER, Colo. — Jake Fischer values his role as a vocal leader of the Arizona Wildcats. He knows younger players look to him for guidance and veterans seek him out for reassurance.
The senior linebacker’s message to his teammates before tonight’s game against Colorado will be short and sweet.
“Honestly, we are not good enough to just go out there and win on talent alone,” Fischer said.
So don’t expect an unfocused group tonight when the UA faces a Colorado team that is 7-24 since the start of 2011 and has three Pac-12 wins in that time.
Yes, the UA is 4-2 and coming off a big win at home last week, but Fischer said that for the time being, this is the biggest game on Arizona’s schedule.
“We have to go in with the same attitude that we’ve gone into the other games with,” said the senior, who is tied for the team lead in tackles with 40. “No one is going in there assuming we’re going to win. We all know we have to earn it.”
If a letdown and a week of bad practice concerned coach Rich Rodriguez at the start of the week, it didn’t by the end. He can’t know for sure how his team will play tonight, but he expects a crisp performance and a team focused on getting a win, not on what Colorado’s record is.
“The only way I can judge it is by their actions Saturday night, but their actions in practice have been good,” Rodriguez said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’re not undefeated and beating everyone by 40 points or anything like that. We’re a team that has to be resilient and has to play our tails off.”
The Buffaloes (3-3 overall, 0-3 Pac-12) are still hoping to make the postseason for the first time since 2007, when they lost to Alabama in the Independence Bowl. Coach Mike MacIntyre’s team is coming off a 43-10 win over Charleston Southern and is expecting a big homecoming crowd tonight at Folsom Field.
“They’re going to come out and give us their best shot,” Fischer said. “So it’s take the best shot and counterpunch and then play our game. We’ve been in hostile environments before. We know what to expect.”
It marks the first of back-to-back road matchups before the UA plays its final four games within state limits. The Wildcats’ next two road foes, Colorado and Cal, are a combined 0-7 in league play this year. Two wins in two weeks is the mission. It begins tonight.
“We have a great atmosphere (at the UA) and our guys like being at home, but if we want to compete for championships, you have to win on the road,” Rodriguez said.