Arizona-UCLA: Five Things We Learned About the Wildcats This Week
(photo by Liam Foley)
1. New Team Rising
Normally when a team turns the ball over five times, they lose—they don't win. This is where this Arizona team showed its true spirit.
Past Wildcat teams would have just rolled over and let the game go to the other team. This team doesn't give up.
Nick Foles threw three interceptions and had a hand in both fumbles. He bounced back by driving Arizona down the field for every one of their touchdowns.
The Cats were down to their fourth—yes, that's right—fourth-string running back. He scored the final touchdown to put the game out of reach.
The thing that this team has showed this year is depth. They have proven game after game that they have the confidence in themselves that if a starter goes down, the backups will step up.
If the team has a turnover, they forget about it. This team knows it has the potential to make significant progress this year in the Pac-10 hierarchy.
This is a new Wildcat football team we have not seen the like of since the '90s—one that is confident and knows it can win.
2. Defense Comes Back with a Vengeance
After giving up 600 yards of offense to Stanford, the defense seemed motivated.
They came out with something to prove. They needed to show that they could stand their own ground as a unit—that they didn't need the offense to score 35 points a game in order to win.
The defense did not allow an offensive touchdown to UCLA. Whenever UCLA seemed to get a drive going, the defense was there to stop them.
UCLA's offense was able to capitalize on the turnovers and good field position but only scored on offense twice. The Wildcat defense only gave up six points.
The effort of the defense was reminiscent of the opening game against Central Michigan. They made stops when they had to and made the offense adjust to them.
The last five games will be telling as to where the defense is as a unit.
3. Reversing Course
In the first half, Arizona used its running game to move the ball—only it wasn't the running backs doing the running. It was the wide receivers.
Arizona used the reverse and beat it into UCLA until they figured out how to stop it. UCLA did not have an answer for it until the second half, when the Cats were able to use it as a fake to get receivers open.
The reverse is something you see once or twice a game—not one or two times on the same drive. Arizona had this in the game plan and said we are going to run the reverse until UCLA figures out how to stop it.
For most of the game Juron Criner and Delashaun Dean were the team's leading rushers. Criner and Dean are deceptively fast considering their size; they are both 6'4".
Arizona has also used this with Nic Grigsby in the receiver slot.
The reverse will end up playing a big part in Arizona's offense for the rest of the season, especially with Arizona's top three running backs being injured.
4. The Weekly Bad Pass Presented by Matt Scott
For the second week in a row, Matt Scott saw action in the game.
For whatever reason, the Arizona coaching staff continues to try to give Scott a chance at quarterback.
Bringing him in for one play and then pulling him out of the game is not an effective way of giving him confidence—especially after him throwing a bad pass and then bringing him out of the game.
If you see the way his reaction after getting removed from the game, it is not one of a confident player.
You see the look of disappointment and frustration, followed by him hanging his head.
It is not the situation that Scott thought he would be in after the first two games of the season. The coaching staff needs to stick with the quarterback who is producing results, not keep giving chances to the one who has shown to be inconsistent.
5. Nick Foles Isn't God
After three games of playing exceptionally well, Foles came back down to earth Saturday.
He threw more interceptions in this game than he did all season. He was responsible for the two fumbles.
Is it too early to dub him the best quarterback to play at Arizona, as some have?
Is he extremely talented and has the potential to be the best?
The future is very bright for Foles, especially if Sonny Dykes stays in Tucson. Foles might end up being the first quarterback drafted who played for Arizona in a long time.
Let's worry about this season before we dub him the greatest though.
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