Oregon State beat us on Saturday night. Let's get that out of the way immediately. The Beavers played a good game, and more importantly, executed an impressive offensive game-plan. The meat-heads will immediately blame special teams, and Alex Zendejas in particular for the loss. In the immediate aftermath of the game, it was easy to fall prey to that feeling. Mostly, because it is so easy to throw those points on the board and say "See, if only he made that field goal, we would have won by one point!" That was not the only deciding factor of the game, however. I plead for you to look at the game in its entirety, and not take one play in the 2nd quarter in a vacuum. Kickers miss field goals. They are rarely perfect. Zendejas missed the kick by fractions of a degree. There were larger inadequacies that led to Saturday's loss.
Oregon State passed for 393 yards in an impressive display of spread-the-wealth passing. Two Beaver receivers had 7 catches and over 100 yards; another receiver had 5 catches for 70 yards. Oregon State is a quality football team, and they came into Arizona Stadium Saturday night and showed Arizona (and the rest of the Pac-10) that they will, once again, be a factor.
That doesn't mean the loss was easy to stomach, however. It had been nearly ten months since Arizona's last loss. Like many of you, I imagine, I had almost brain-washed myself to forget what it feels like to lose a game like this. That sucked. The worst part, was coming to grips with the reality of how small the margin of error will be for Arizona the rest of the Pac-10 season. If this team wants to make it to the Promised Land, there will be no more trip ups.
Some quick bullet-point observations from Saturday because I'm tired of paragraphs:
- For a game-plan that only brought the front-four after the passer, the pass-rush was surprisingly effective and disruptive. Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed were in Katz' face all night long. A couple times, Katz was able to release the ball just before being planted to the turf, and a couple times those wobbly prayers were caught by men in orange. Thems the breaks.
- Arizona is not a press-coverage team, by design and scheme. The linebackers and secondary generally sit back in a zone, or in man-coverage with safety help up top. Oregon State did a really good job of finding the soft spot in Arizona's zones, which looked to be generally between 9-14 yards on Saturday night. These are adjustments the coaching staff should make during the game. Katz was picking the secondary apart, because Oregon State was able to find space just behind the linebackers.
- Trevin Wade: if you are so hurt that you can't turn (by your own admission), get off the field. You would have been all over that double-move on the TD pass in the first quarter, if healthy. Instead, toasted. There are no hero accolades in playing poorly while hurt.
- The special teams were terrible. Keenyn Crier has seemingly no idea how far he can kick a football. He obviously understands the concept of downing the ball inside the 20; he just lacks the necessary finesse to make it happen. This should be attainable.
- Alex Zendejas had a rough night. Yes, it would have been great if he hit that 2nd quarter field goal; especially, after Foles led the team rather quickly down the field into position. I don't lay the loss at his feet (or foot). But, man, it would be great if he found some consistency - quick.
Nick Foles was very impressive. Sunshine threw for 440 yards at a 76% completion rate. Ridiculous.
- Juron Criner: you are also awesome. Stay healthy. I would have loved to see you come back for that deep pass up the left sideline in the 4th quarter. It really looked like you had a shot at that.
This week, Arizona travels to Washington State. Last Saturday is done. The season is not over, it just became more difficult. Arizona can still climb its way to the top of the Pac if it plays well and catches some breaks. Here is to a new winning streak starting.