Arizona Wildcats-Stanford Cardinal: Five Things We Learned This Week
(Photo By Liam Foley)
1. Arizona Defense Stepped Up Big
Despite giving up almost 600 yards of offense, Arizona's defense came through in the clutch.
Stanford had just got back-to-back first downs and seemed to be making a game-winning drive. The Wildcats got lucky when Stanford dropped a pass.
On third and fourth down you know they weren't going to get any lucky breaks. They made the stop on third. On fourth down, the most impressive play for the defense on the night, Trevin Wade knocking the ball away to seal the game for Arizona.
The defense was not at the top of its game against Stanford. The interception return was important for Arizona as without those points the Wildcats lose.
Overall, it wasn't a great defensive night for either team but Arizona made the plays when they had to.
2. Shorter Is Better
Nick Foles threw for over 400 yards and completed 40 passes.
I can only remember about three of those passes being thrown further than 20 yards in the air.
Arizona utilized the short pass and bubble screen in order to get big plays. All of the Wildcats's long touchdown passes were short passes that the receivers broke for big plays.
Sonny Dykes is utilizing short passes as his running game and making sure that Foles is put in a position to throw high percentage passes. He knows that Foles has the accuracy and arm to make the precise passes involved in the short passing game.
3. Why Just One?
Just when you think that a go-to receiver has emerged for Arizona, someone else looks like they have taken the mantle.
Last week it was David Roberts. This week it was Juron Criner. Or it was David Douglas. Or it was Terrell Turner.
Criner was the big play receiver for Arizona this week, getting 152 yards on 12 catches. Douglas had two touchdown grabs on seven catches and 92 yards. Turner had nine catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
The depth of Arizona's receivers has allowed Foles to be comfortable with any receiver who is in the game. This has shown over the past three games, as each game a new receiver has stepped up.
4. Stoops Out-Coached Jim Harbaugh
Down by 11 points going into the fourth quarter Stoops could have gone on a tirade but he didn't. He stayed cool, calm, and collected.
On the game's key play, third and 17 from midfield, Arizona calls a draw. The person behind me at the game said before the play, they are calling a draw. My friends and I rolled our eyes.
I'm glad we were wrong. It was a risky call but it turned out to be a great one. Stanford didn't see it coming.
Plus if Arizona doesn't get the first down, Stanford gets the ball back and Arizona still had all of their timeouts.
Stoops got his first win over Harbaugh at one of the most crucial points in his coaching career.
5. Arizona Needs To Work On Their Kickoff
The Wildcats had a new kicker for kickoffs as John Bonano replaced Alex Zendejas and while the ball was kicked further, Stanford still got good starting field position.
So now all the complaints of the kicks not going far enough, it has to come to the kickoff team coverage.
Special teams coach Jeff Hammerschmidt needs to take a new approach to kickoffs. Arizona's defense cannot afford to constantly be put in field position with their back against the wall.
-For a team that was so good at running the ball earlier in the season, they have not been that good lately. Besides the long runs by Nic Grigsby and Greg Nwoko, the running game was not effective against the Cardinal.
-Arizona's student section, the Zona Zoo, was the craziest it has ever been for a game against a non-ranked opponent. On Stanford's failed final drive, the stands were filled with jumping fans and you could feel the bleachers shaking.
-David Hasselhoff sang the national anthem prior to the game. Arizona is 2-0 when Hasselhoff sings the national anthem, the other being Arizona's Las Vegas Bowl win over BYU last season.
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