Arizona survived the upset bid in Pasadena. Not "barely", or "by the skin of their teeth", they survived it. The Wildcats out-performed the Bruins most of the night, but were dogged by the zone defense that the Arizona defensive staff love to run. It is beginning to seem like the defense is playing with one hand tied behind their backs at times.
Opposing teams have certainly caught on to it. If you’re playing the Wildcats, you prepare to face a zone defense. That’s it. Because Arizona will only rarely mix it up with some man to man. So you instruct your QB to go underneath the zone, and you’ll rack up the passing yards. With the exception of the Oregon St. game, the ‘Cats have pulled through despite this handicap. But looming large are the final four games of the season: @ Stanford, USC, @ Oregon, and the Territorial Cup game vs. ASU.
The defense needs to figure out what adjustments need to be made, and make them before Arizona finds themselves at 2 conference losses and kissing the Rose Bowl goodbye.
Ok, enough doom and gloom. The Wildcats, for the most part, looked pretty good against UCLA. If anything, it seemed that the Bruins stepped up their level of play against the ‘Cats. But give the Arizona players credit for toughing it out, and playing all four quarters.
Don’t forget the coaches. While I continue to be sick to my stomach at the over-use of the zone defense by the defensive coaches, the coaching staff deserves a pat on the back here. Stoops especially. He never gave up on QB Matt Scott, and he certainly could have. Instead, he had faith in him, and left him in to finish the game. And QB Nick Foles has another week for his knee to heal before taking that first hit. Good call. Also, points for going for the fake punt. UCLA wants to run trick plays against us? Fine. Go chase one of our LBs on a fake punt. Great call.
Overall, it seems like this was a great tune-up for the Stanford game. A solid reminder that the ‘Cats will need to bring their ‘A’ game every single week. And heading into the meat-grinder that is the final stretch of games, that will certainly be the case.