Against MEAC's South Carolina State, the Arizona Wildcats didn't look too impressed with themselves a week after upsetting the Oklahoma State Cowboys. UA clubbed the Bulldogs 56-0 on Saturday in Tucson, moving to a Pac-12 opener against the Oregon Ducks with a solid segue victory.
The offense was slow to make the most of a couple early possessions but looked fluid under Matt Scott's leadership. It was to be expected. The Wildcats put up 689 yards and 42 first downs as Scott led the attack by hitting on 30-of-36 passes for 288 yards and three passing touchdowns. He also toted the rock nine times for 61 yards and another score.
But the defense impressed with speed and sound play. The longest play of the day for the Bulldogs was only 19 yards, and Arizona pitched its first shutout since drubbing Idaho, 70-0,back in 2008.The Bulldogs only earned eight first downs and didn't get into UA territory until over nine minutes remained in the third quarter. S.C. State compiled 152 total yards as they only gained on average of 3.6 yards per pass attempt and 2.2 on rushes.
It was a little bit of what we expected, but it took a little longer to see the results than Arizona would've liked. Arizona scored a touchdown on its first possession, but a Richard Morrison fumble and a missed 25-yard field goal by John Bonano on the next touch for UA's offense made the game closer than it should've been after a quarter.
They exploded for three touchdowns in the second quarter, and two each in the third and fourth quarters.
The bench began to make an appearance in the second quarter, most notably in the wide receiving group. By the fourth quarter, the keys were handed off to quarterback B.J Denker, who looked capable against the Bulldogs. Denker went 6-for-10 passing for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Looking toward Oregon, the foundation has been set for Arizona to compete. The Ducks' defense has been known to give up points to Arizona in the past few years, and the Wildcats' own defense has shown that, if they aren't the deepest or most athletic unit, they'll be in the right spots on the field and make the tackles they should.
That should give the Wildcats a good chance. And that's more than you could've said a month ago.
What do you think? Do you like what you see from the Wildcats enough to think they have a chance against the Oregon Ducks?
- Twelve Wildcats caught passes on Saturday. Dan Buckner led UA on the evening, catching six balls for 85 yards, and his longest of 27 yards ended with a touchdown. Backups Tyler Slavin looked good with five catches, and walkons Johnny Johnny and Sean Willet combined for seven catches for 91 yards.
- Receiver Terrence Miller appeared to injury his shoulder after receiving a tackle in the first half. We saw him talking to Willet in the second half with his pads off. There wasn't any sign that he was majorly injured -- no sling -- so we assume that taking him out was precautionary more than anything.
- Richard Morrison again struggled to hang onto the ball, fumbling while trying to gain extra yardage after a catch on the second possession for the Wildcats. Rodriguez seemed to keep his trust in Morrison, who has no helped the team with shaky ball-carrying practices in both the Spring game and through three games this season.
- For the most part, UA didn't play around with long plays or trickery on Saturday, keeping it simple with dink-and-dunk passes meanwhile working on the run game. However, Rodriguez pulled out a sweeping pitch to Morrison later in the game, seemingly giving him a chance to atone for his earlier mistake.
- Taimi Tutogi caught a 14-yard touchdown pass out of the backfield, the first sign that Rich Rodriguez is well aware of his pass-catching abilities. As the playbook expands against Oregon, look for more opportunities to arise for Rodriguez to put his do-it-all player in those situations.
- Jonathan McKnight intercepted his second pass on the year, picking off Bulldog quarterback Richard Cue, who launched a deep pass down the middle of the field with Marquis Flowers bearing down on him.