Arizona-Oregon State: Five Things We Learned This Week
1. What Quarterback Controversy?
So much for worrying about how Nick Foles would handle his first start since high school. Foles was everything Arizona fans hoped he would be; decisive, poised, and consistent.
Foles looked at ease in the pocket. He looked confident in his decision making, once he made a decision he acted on it. Foles threw to nine different receivers this week. Last week, Foles and Matt Scott combined for ten completions.
Foles went 25-for-34, throwing for 254 yards, and three touchdown passes.
The best part of Foles emergence will be that he will be able to keep defenses honest, which will open up the dangerous running game for Arizona.
Whatever concerns there were at quarterback were left in Iowa.
2. Arizona Has Depth
If you had said Arizona would have had two starters on the offensive line and their best defensive end out due to injury, along with their top two running backs get injured in the first half- would you have guessed that the Wildcats would have won?
Past Arizona teams would have crumbled, blamed the loss on the injuries, and gone back to Tucson with their tail between their legs. The depth on this team is something that the Cats have not seen in a decade.
Arizona's third-string back Greg Nwoko had 76 yards receiving, 44 yards rushing, and a touchdown. The offensive line did not give up a sack and gave Foles plenty of time to make great throws. Ricky Elmore and Earl Mitchell each had two sacks.
In order to take the next step, this team will need its back-ups to be prepared, and it looks like they are.
3. Closing The Door
Arizona did what they could not do last year—win a close game.
Last year, the Cats lost all five of their games by seven points or less. They could not close the door, always allowing good teams to stick around until their opponents were able to get the lead or keep it.
It was not meant to be on Saturday. Arizona made plays when plays needed to be made: a safety, an interception, even the punting. The entire team stepped it up when it counted during the final two minutes. In a place that has always given Arizona trouble, they were able to slam the door shut on the Beavers.
4. Punting Game Was Critical
Punting? Really? Yes, the punting of Keenyn Crier was key to the Cats win. After shanking one punt for 13 yards, Crier had three punts downed at Oregon State's 3 in the fourth quarter. Two of these punts happened in the last two minutes of the game.
These were important in helping Arizona get good field position and the crucial safety in the last minute of the game. Without pinning the Beavers deep in the final period, Arizona could have easily seen a repeat of last year.
5. Run Defense Steps Up
For a group that was manhandled by the Iowa Hawkeyes, the defensive gave all they could to Jacquizz Rodgers. The Pac-10's leading rusher from last year was held to 85 yards on the ground, and it almost seemed that Quizz did more damage in the air with his 70 yards receiving.
Rodgers did have two touchdown runs, but both of which were on the goal line, none of which were breakaway runs. Stopping the big runs was something that Arizona had trouble with against the Hawkeyes, but the Cats seemingly returned to early season form staying put and keeping the running back in front of them.
-Talk about atoning for your mistakes. Devin Ross was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week after leading the team with 12 tackles and making the interception that put the nail-in-the-coffin for Arizona. Ross seemed to be on a mission to ensure that the Cats would not blow their lead and have deja-vu for this year's matchup.
-Arizona went 5-for-5 in the redzone, scoring touchdowns everytime they got into the crimson area. This is a dramatic improvement from weeks past where the Wildcats have had to settle for field goals too often this season.
-Talk about a hot streak. Trevin Wade has four interceptions in the past three games and eight in his first seventeen. Pretty good considering he has only started four games in his career.
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