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What Arizona players are saying about Hawaii

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NCAA Football: Oregon at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats will officially open their 2019 season Saturday when they take on Hawaii in Honolulu.

The Week 0 matchup marks the beginning of the second year of the Kevin Sumlin Era in Tucson, and after posting a disappointing 5-7 record in 2018, the Wildcats will desperately be looking to open the new season with a win.

To do that, the Cats will have to go on the road and slow down a pass-happy Hawaii team, who returns the 18th most players in the country from last year’s 8-6 team.

Before Arizona departs for the islands on Wednesday, we caught up with several players Tuesday afternoon and got their thoughts on the trip across the Pacific to take on the Rainbow Warriors.

Here is what they had to say.

Arizona defensive tackle Finton Connolly: “They’ve got a very good team, we could never take them lightly. They’ve got a good quarterback who likes to run and they are going to pass a lot too. So the biggest thing with us as a d-line up front is that pass rush and getting pressure on him.”

Connolly on the experience of going to Hawaii: “Yeah, it will be cool going to Hawaii but it’s more of a business trip. We’re not going to really sightsee a lot. A lot of people get distracted by the beach and stuff but you can’t really think about that.”

Arizona STUD Kylan Wilborn: “I think it’s going to be a good game. We all know what they like to do. They like to throw the ball and they like to assert the run at the beginning of the game. I think it’s going to be a good game for us. I’m really excited to go out there and put some pressure on that quarterback.”

Wilborn on if there is an emphasis on getting to Hawaii QB Cole McDonald: “There always is. Every week there is an emphasis to get to the quarterback and putting pressure. But yeah that’s our goal for this week.”

Arizona punter Matt Aragon: “We’re all just trying to keep in mind that it’s a business trip and remember that we’re going to win a football game that just happens to be on a beach in a really nice place. It’s just an understanding that we can’t get ahead of ourselves and show up and forget what we are there to do.”

Arizona linebacker Anthony Pandy on what he is looking forward to: “Just playing, being in front of my family. I have a lot of family in Hawaii. My sister’s gonna be there, my stepdad, my whole family. It’s going to be a good experience.”

Pandy on the keys for linebackers facing a pass-heavy offense: “Just gotta have the right eyes. Gotta read the offense, offensive line, read play action.”

Pandy on McDonald: “He’s a good passer. When he’s in trouble, he tends to run a lot. ... He takes his reads and I feel like once he doesn’t see his read he takes off out of the pocket. So with or without pressure, he’s going to do what he wants to do.”

Arizona QB Khalil Tate on Hawaii’s defense: “They’re a big team. They’re always physical. They can always plug holes, so I think we need to use speed against them. It’s one of our strong suits, so we want to use that to our advantage.”

Tate on playing during Week 0: “I think anytime you have a Week 0 game it’s important for your program. Just to be able to go out there and be one of the few teams that everybody is looking at. You really get a chance to have a platform and really show everybody what you can do. Everyone’s watching.”

Tate on what he is most looking forward to: “I’m excited to prove to the world what our team has been working for, how hard we’ve been working in the past fall and past spring and how much better we are. I think whenever you’re coming off a season like we had, expectations are low. We’re cool with that, we understand that, so we just have to use that to build forward.”