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What Arizona players are saying about the Territorial Cup

NCAA Football: Arizona at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s rivalry week!

The Arizona Wildcats (5-6) and Arizona State Sun Devils (6-5) will do battle in Tucson with the Territorial Cup at stake.

The last five games between these rivals has been won by the home team, and the Wildcats are hoping that trend continues Saturday. Of course, Arizona also needs to win to reach bowl eligibility.

A few UA players met with the media Tuesday to discuss the game. Here is what they had to say:

Arizona WR Tony Ellison on importance of game:

“It’s hard to decide if this game is more important than a bowl game because it’s a huge week for the City of Tucson. It’s the team up north and we’ve got to beat them. There’s so much hype around this game and it’s also my senior season. I think it’s important to be able to put on that block A one more time and go to that bowl game. I approach every game the same, but obviously I’m going to have a lot more edge this week since we’re playing a rivalry game and it’s going to be very important for the fans.”

Ellison on the challenges ASU presents:

“I don’t know, I’m not really worried about them that much. They have a lot of injuries and I think the challenges for them is we have a very veteran receiver corps and Shawn (Poindexter) is a big mismatch and they’ve got a couple freshmen starting in the backend so I think we’re going to take advantage of that this week.”

Arizona S Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles on flipping the switch against ASU:

“That’s the plan. That’s what we hope to do. ASU is a great team, it’s not going to be an easy game. Obviously they’ve got N’Keal Harry, Eno Benjamin and Manny Wilkins and they’re all great players. It’s not going to be an easy game, but the plan is to flip the switch the way we did two years ago.”

Flannigan-Fowles on what makes ASU WR N’Keal Harry such a tough cover:

“They put him everywhere. They put him on the outside, the slot. Shoot, they might put him in the backfield. He can be a running back if they really wanted him to. He’s a big body, he makes all tough catches. You’ve seen him against USC when he made that tough catch over Iman Marshall. He’s just a tough dude and there’s a reason why he’s probably one of the top receivers in the draft.”

Flannigan-Fowles on stopping both Harry and Eno Benjamin, the Pac-12’s leading rusher:

“It’s funny you say that because we gotta be able to do both. You’ve got to limit N’Keal’s touches and try to take him out of the game, but we’ve also got to focus on Eno Benjamin. So we’re just going to game plan on those two and see where we go.”

Flannigan-Fowles on avoiding discipline penalties:

“We just gotta keep our heads composed and not give in to what the opponent wants to do to us, just make sure we keep our heads on the ultimate goal and that’s to win.”

Arizona WR Shawn Poindexter on what he remembers about the other two Territorial Cups he’s played in:

“The first one (2016) I remember we ran all over them. Last year was a little heartbreaking. I think they made a call last year at ASU probably shouldn’t have on the punt return, but we were in their stadium so I can see why they made the call.”

Arizona LT Layth Friekh on what the Territorial Cup means:

“Everything. It’s the biggest game of the year. My pops (who went to the UA) he’s an engineer so when he used to live here, he would joke about how all his co-workers care about this one game and every year this was my game. I remember my junior year (of high school) playing in the state championship trying to get to sleep early and the (Territorial Cup) was going on late, and my pops was yelling and screaming the whole time keeping me up all night.”

Friekh on if the players know what is at stake:

“Everyone knows what’s going on. Last week we were going ‘this game gets us into a bowl game and ASU will get us to a better bowl game.’ Now we’re fighting to get at least one more game, so everybody knows how important this is and we’re all working towards that.”

Friekh on how badly the team wants to win:

“Very bad. Yeah one, it’s for a bowl game, but it’s the Territorial Cup. That to me is more important than anything. It’s a ‘they don’t like us, we don’t like them’ type of game, so it’s intense.”