The Arizona Wildcats held on for a close 35-28 win over the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday night.
The closeness was mostly thanks to a lack of execution on the defensive side of the ball, as the offense was ultra-efficient. Arizona only had the ball for 24:12 of game time, only ran 64 plays, but averaged nearly eight yards per play.
"Thankfully we got ourselves a couple of first downs when we did cuz we weren't stopping anybody," Rich Rodriguez said.
But redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon was not pleased.
"Horrible," Solomon said of his performance. A night where he went 22-of-26 for 278 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 60 yards on seven carries. Why was it so horrible in his eyes? The couple of costly mistakes.
"I made some questionable mistakes," he explained. One of those mistakes was the interception early in the second quarter. Instead of taking a sack, the freshman threw it right into Nevada's Tere Calloway's hands.
"Throwing that ball away, it wasn't near the sidelines. I tried with all my power to get it out of bounds."
Another huge mistake was on a fourth and ten play with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. Arizona had the ball on the Nevada 35, and decided to go for it. Solomon scrambled, but slid about a half yard shy of the first down marker, giving the Wolf Pack the chance to make it a one-score game, which they did just three minutes later.
"He was kinda mad," Solomon said with a smile about coach Rodriguez's feeling about the slide. "In situations like that, I just gotta go get the yardage."
"We hurt ourselves on a couple of drives," Rodriguez added.
"I was obviously most upset when we didn't seal the game when Anu slid this far short of the first down," coach said while holding his hands up (5:30 of the video). "Obviously we weren't too pleased with that, but he wasn't either. I tried not to be too frustrated, but anyone that was following me on the sideline could see I was."
"But we still had the lead."
A couple other plays where Solomon held onto the ball to long also led to the three ineligible man downfield penalties Arizona received on the night as well.
I think we can all agree that after a night with the kind of stats Solomon put up, it's positive to see he holds himself to such a high standard. This offense is built around freshmen in crucial positions, as well as transfers playing in their first season at Arizona. All you can hope for is the continued growth, and the constant improvement moving forward, especially in a Pac-12 South that all of the sudden has a lot of uncertainty.