I was so frustrated last night, that I made the decision to sleep on it for a night before sitting down to go over the game again in my head. My initial rage at K Alex Zendejas missing two critical PAT's has subsided, a bit. While I am firm in my belief that the coaching staff should be looking for a new kicker for next season, it never should have come down to those kicks. They shouldn't have mattered. It wasn't Zendejas' fault. He was a known element. Anybody that has watched him over the last two years could tell you that he is good, but not consistent or reliable. Perhaps we'll see one of the two freshmen, (John Mora or Jesse Ortiz), take over next season.
Nor was it the fault of the numerous dropped interceptions. As frustrating as those were, it was a sign that the defense had regained its teeth somewhat. This would be great to see, in week 6 or 8. Not so much in the last game of the regular season.
No, the fault lies with the play calling. While I continue to be impressed with the position coaching, and the development of unranked recruits into top level players, I was completely livid with the play calling last night. You're facing a rookie QB, that has never started on the road. Where were the blitzes? How the heck are you not able to contain that giant, lumbering, 6'8" QB on third down?
On offense, the greatest success came when the offense took stabs down field. So why constantly call passing plays with routs running so far under the first down line? Also, when Matt Scott was subbed in, why not call some plays with more deep routs? He proved that he can handle that earlier this season.
This is still a rebuilding team. But this is the first year where we are left questioning if we'll finish with a better team than the last year. Some problems will solve themselves. I, for one, believe that the QB controversy will end with Nick Foles declaring for the draft shortly after Arizona's bowl game. Some of the running game woes will be solved with greater experience, and an injection of talent in the form of incoming freshman Ka'Deem Carey. (If you haven't heard of him, he's the future of Arizona's running game.) Look to see DT Kirifi Taula make his presence known next season, as well.
My humble suggestion? Pull in the co-coordinators, and tell them you're going to go hire two new guys to call plays. And ask them if they're ok being position coaches. If not, thanks and best of luck to you. Just watch the games, and the progression of the players. There is no way Stoops hasn't seen what I'm describing here. Great development of players, with poor and sometimes horrendous play calling. None of the co-coordinators are hot prospects for other jobs at the moment, so I don't see any short term problems with them moving to being position coaches only.
It's easy to blame coach Stoops here, but it isn't his coaching that is at fault. It's his decision making. He clearly trusts the play calling of his coordinators too much. He is a leader, not a play caller, and that's fine. But it is time for him to consider that the dink and dunk offense is holding his team back, and it is time to look for a new play caller on both sides of the ball. Arizona has the players and the talent to be more aggressive in every phase of the game. Let's take that next step, and get some coordinators that know how to use them properly.