Time of possession problems could bite Arizona football

The Arizona Wildcats, no doubt, rely upon Nick Foles' strong arm and a wide receiving core with sturdy hands and depth. You don't say?

I'm all for teams that can drop 41 points with a couple flicks of the wrist and a couple of huge catches by a 6-foot-4 wideout in single coverage.

As in any sport, however, controlling the game often has much more to do with having the ball in one's hands -- that is what control is, isn't it? -- than who's winning on the scoreboard, at least until the clock ticks down to zero.

Against, NAU, the Wildcats showed that they won't be too willing to run the football. Forty-two pass attempts from Foles was a factor in Arizona losing the time of possession battle in a troubling 36:13 to 23:47 ratio to the Lumberjacks. In every quarter did the Wildcats fail to hold the ball longer than their opponents, even in a fourth quarter (it was pretty even at 7:47 and 7:13) when they probably should have been milking the clock as to not embarrass NAU.

Head coach Mike Stoops has said this team isn't shy about throwing the ball 40-50 times per game, nor do they think it will hurt their run game. And maybe the latter is true.

When Arizona did run the ball, it came with a 3.8 average that was stricken numerically because of a -26-yard snap that flew by kicker Jaime Salazar. Arizona's top two rushers, Keola Antolin and Ka'Deem Carey, combined for 100 net yards on just 15 carries, a 6.7 average.

So yeah, tossing the pigskin like a hot potato opens the run game up, perhaps. But with such great numbers, why not try for more balance, because I'm pretty sure that philosophy works both ways. 

Now consider doing that to control the ball more, keeping an injury-riddle defense off the field and fresh. Come crunch time, should a game be close, maybe that extra juice will swing the game in the favor of the Wildcats. That, opposed to a tired defense allowing a deadly Oregon or Stanford squad to win a 56-55 thriller because of another missed extra point.

The old saying is that moderation works out. A little steak here and there won't bump your cholesterol and a little run game won't deviate that much from taking advantage of Arizona's best unit -- the wide receivers.

Oddly enough, moderation also goes hand-in-hand with control.

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