clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Penalties hint that Arizona's issues lie deeper than on-field execution

New, 1 comment

If one thing doesn't go wrong, something else will. If something that went wrong finally goes right, something that was going right will go wrong. That's the luck, and the reality, of this Arizona football team.

Mike Stoops' job now legitimately lands on the hot seat. I didn't think it'd come to it so soon, but it's a matter of "how" and not a numbers game that puts his job in limbo. Sure, it was always a very real possibility the Wildcats would stand at a 1-4 record through the first five games of the season. Hell, they haven't been favored in any of their past nine FBS-level games aside from last year's ASU debacle.

By "how" they've lost four games in a row I mean this; it's clear that talent isn't necessarily the issue here, and no matter how much a guy like Robert Golden says the coaches are doing their jobs -- he pretty much said it's on the players, according to Anthony Gimino -- it all comes down to coaching when a team regularly puts up eight penalties per game.

With 42 mishaps on the year, Arizona has the fourth-most penalties IN THE NATION through five weeks. While execution is one thing (and players are the ones counted upon to execute) at some point accountability falls on the coaches.

And what else falls on the coaches is putting the right players on the field and coaching even the lesser athletic kids up. It's clear from the linebackers and defensive ends especially that Arizona has failed to recruit in areas of need. Last season saw a set of JUCO linebacker transfers earn starting roles immediately, and while Paul Vassallo and Derek Earls are solid, it's questionable how their talent stacks up against the average Pac-12 athlete.

The same goes with the defensive ends, who have failed to get to opposing quarterbacks. Yes, Matt Barkley lit up the Arizona secondary with Robert Woods as his favorite target -- Barkley set a school-record 468 yards passing by completing 32-of-39 passes and Woods caught 14 passes for 255 yards on Saturday in the 48-41 Trojan victory. But when it comes down to it, the pressure wasn't on Barkley, who on Saturday might as well have been sitting on a beach chair with a blonde and a Corona by his side.

Arizona's three sacks on the season are tied for fourth-worst in the country. How much is that on the players on the field and how much of it is on the coaches who put those players on the field?

Look, there's a lot of positives (more than you might think) to take from the USC game and even the Oregon contest a week prior. But those positives aren't worth a thing unless mistakes, poor execution and a urgency arrives on not only the field, but also on the Arizona sideline.

That comes with recruiting, coaching, dealing with players fragile emotions and everything in between. A lot of those cracks have yet to be filled by this coaching staff. Many of those cracks are getting larger with each ego-shattering loss.