I drove home from the Cal game, and couldn’t shake a strange feeling. Usually, an Arizona victory leaves me ecstatic. But while I left the game as proud of the defense as I have ever been, I didn’t feel good about the win. The offense gave absolutely no support to the defense for 58 minutes. A night of rest did nothing to make me feel better about the Arizona offense.
There was little to celebrate on the offensive side of the ball for the Wildcats. The stats tell the tale. The Wildcats had as many rushing yards, 99, as they gave up in penalties.
The penalties. True, the officials made some mystifying calls. But overall, I agree with coach Stoops on this one. "We made a lot of mistakes. We made a lot of selfish plays, and our discipline wasn’t very good when it needed to be." I am sure that over the next two weeks, the Arizona coaching staff will be aggressively reminding the players that penalties are unacceptable.
Let’s focus on the good news. If I focus too much on the offense, I may have a seizure. The defense was phenomenal. The linebackers, in particular were amazing. Flying all over the field, playing smart football. For the most part, they resisted the urge to dive in and give a window for the offense to advance. The defensive line performed admirably as well. Together with the LBs, they achieved the goal of keeping the outstanding Cal RB Shane Vereen in check all night. The secondary got past the pass interference bug that plagued them last week, (Or maybe just having a new officiating crew helped.) and kept the passing game in check.
All told, the defense allowed a total of 262 yards and no touchdowns. It would appear that this defense will be a special unit going forward. Don’t be confused by the Nevada game the prior week. Cal is a solid offense, and will do some damage in the Pac-10 this season. Coming into the game on Saturday, the Cal Bears were averaging 458 yards of offense and 6 touchdowns per game.
Offensive MVP: QB Nick Foles. Foles went 25 for 39, for 212 yds and a touchdown. While there were many disappointments on the night, Foles came through when the Wildcats needed him most. Here’s hoping we see a much improved, and effective passing attack in two weeks.
Defensive MVP: CB Robert Golden. 8 tackles, 1 fumble recovery. While there were many great performances to choose from, I felt that Golden was the best of a great bunch. He performed admirably throughout the evening, and made a huge play, recovering the fumble when S Joseph Perkins got greedy following his interception.
Special Teams: K Alex Zendejas. Zendejas nailed a 46 yard field goal to keep the Wildcats in the game.
Special Mention: The defense. I can’t say this enough. The defense won the game. They, collectively, kept the Wildcats in the game, even when the crowd began to die down towards the end. The rest of the Pac-10 teams are certainly not looking forward to facing this unit.
Mystery of the Night: WR Travis Cobb. Did not suit up for the game, even though he appeared healthy. No boot, no crutches. No comment from the coaching staff. I am hoping that he is back in pads for the Oregon St. game. We really could have used him on special teams against Cal.
In closing, I feel that this game was a great learning opportunity for the offense, and a great confidence boost for the defense. The Wildcats were able to pull this one out by the skin of their teeth, and mercifully have a bye week coming up. They can certainly use it to work on the offense, heal up, and game-plan.
The Arizona Wildcats are 4-0, regardless of how they got there. Oregon St. comes to town in two weeks, lets make it 5-0. Bear Down, Arizona!