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Grading the Cats: Arizona vs. Oregon State

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Hi everyone. I'm Joe Newberry. I run a blog called azdesertswarm.com. I used to write for this football team that was boring and frustrating to watch.  Last week, our coach decided to try out this new guy and let me tell you what. He's badass. 

 

Seriously. Did y'all see Foles run this game? He was in control the entire time. He has an absolute cannon for an arm and enough mobility to create when there is pressure.  Time after time Foles took snaps and had plenty of time to thread the needle to receivers running great routes. When the pressure was coming via a blitz or stunt, he was able to scramble enough to get the open look. 

 

Arizona took on a new look on Saturday as well, running the "I" formation with Chris Gronkowski at a true fullback position and running plenty of play action to freeze over zealous linebackers.  The Cats also threw at least 6 "smoke screens" which were not possible last week due to Matt Scott's weak arm.  This play proved effective all night and only went for negative yards on one occasion.

 

Quarterbacks: First play of the game: wide receiver screen. Typical Texas Tech play.  I love it. Not only was it effective, but it displayed the arm of Foles beautifully with a TV shot down the line of scrimmage.  Foles is the man. He made good decisions all night and was methodical in his receiver selection hitting 9 different receivers while racking up 254 yards on 25-34 and 0 interceptions. His ability to stand in the pocket and find the open receiver is like night and day from Matt Scott.  He also showed flashes of mobility enabling him to bypass a sack and find receivers coming back to for completions. Grade: A

 

Running Backs: Losing Grigsby was tough, but it only lasted for a second. Keoli Antolin came in and immediately filled the void, making Beaver defenders guess which way he was going all the way until he got hurt.  Antolin needs more carries as these two are truly two different types of runners.  Oregon State looked lost trying to wrep up Antolin.  Greg Nwoko looked solid as well.  His first carry of the game was for a 19 yard TD.  Nwoko filled in nicely gaining 44 yards on 9 carries. Antolin had 12 carries for 46 yards before departing with an injury.  Nwoko was also a dual threat on the night grabbing 4 catches for 76 yards including a 52 yard grab in the third quarter on a screen pass from Foles. Nick Booth filled in on one play and had some incredible cuts to get 12 yards on the play. Grade: A-

 

Offensive Line: The offensive line played decent on pass protection, not allowing a sack all night.  Their run blocking wasn't as good as usual (CMU or NAU). Hmmm. I think I'm seeing a pattern here. Although we gained 137 yards on the ground, we did it on 33 carries (4.15 ypg).  They came through big at the end of the game giving Foles time even in the face of OSU coming at them with stunts and blitzes as they tried anything to get into Foles' face.  It wasn't happening. Grade: B+

 

Wide Receivers: The Cats displayed five wide a couple of times on Saturday night which proved to be a successful venture.  David Douglas had 5 catches for 52 yards in the game, three coming in the first drive.  Dean is amazing on the fade and Arizona even utilized this play on 2nd and 8 from their own 6 yard line.   The Cats used it in the third quarter as well to Juron Criner and it was pretty. This is not new for Foles, as he threw his only TD pass against Iowa on a fade. Now that's confidence in your QB to get the ball where it needs to be. Dean just makes DB's look silly.  FYI, the fly sweep to Dean does not work. Stop trying it.  The Cats wide receivers are some of the best blocking WR's i've seen in a long time.  Each of them gets on their guy and engages so well it's unreal.  Grade: B+

 

Defensive Line: Ricky Elmore and Earl Mitchell each had 2 sacks on the night while D'Aundre Reed and Lolomana Mikaele each had 1/2 a sack on the night. Lolomana Mikaele started on Saturday night over Horton Donald Horton.  Smart move.  Horton was unable to provide any push against Iowa and wasn't quick enough on the ball to get into RB's in the backfield.  I thought Mikaele was a nice change that defensive coordinator Mark Stoops made. Kudos for pulling a starter when they're not doing their job. Grade: B

 

Linebackers: The linebackers had an off night, often times trying to find Jacquizz Rogers hiding behind offensive linemen.  Although the backers filled well, they weren't able to make play and didn't record one tackle for loss all night.  Vuna Tuihalamaka led the group with 6 tackles and 6 assists for 12 on the night, tying Devin Ross who chipped in 12 as well.  Other than that, it was kind of a disappointing night for this crew. Grade: C+

 

Secondary: Can you believe that first TD for Oregon State? What a crock. That was one of the luckiest plays I have ever seen. That ball was tipped 3 times.  Trevin Wade picked up his fourth interception of the year showing an incredible burst of speed to close on the come back route and take one away from OSU.  The Cats secondary gave up 303 yards of passing on 31-47 while picking off 2 passes. Devin Ross had an incredible night with 12 tackles and 1 pass break up. Oh yeah, let's not forget that he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week.  Overall, OSU exploited the Cats secondary and more experienced teams will have a field day.  Without Ross, this would be an entire letter lower. Grade: B

Crier_medium
(Special Teams MVP)

Special  Teams: Zendejas was perfect on the night hitting all 5 extra points.  He had no field goal attempts on the night.  I'll take it.  His kickoffs traveled an average of 60.5 yards and he got 1 touchback.  Our kickoff coverage is still weak and OSU's quickness killed us.  Keenyn Crier had an awesome night hitting 5 punts for an average of 45 yards a piece.  His real gem was in the fourth quarter when he punted 65 yards from his own 29 yard line and pinned OSU on their own 3.  Just a few minutes later he kicked another 62 yarder, pinning the Beavers on their own 3 again.  And if you didn't watch it, he pinned OSU on their 3 once more right before Arizona got a safety to close it out.  Great game young man. Grade: A