There are some issues with this Arizona Wildcats team, starting with the center position, and making its way around to defense and special teams.
We talk about some of those things in this week's roundtable:
1. Are you ready for the Jerrard Randall "era"?
Gabe Encinas: I am. I've defended Anu Solomon for as long as I could, but he just cannot string together a successful drive against a decent defense. Randall is a liability when throwing the ball, but he gathered some confidence against Washington State and actually made some decent throws. What I like about Randall is that you could see him wearing out the Cougar defense, and I think that goes a long way for this offense. If the offense is going to struggle and stall out, I'd rather have Jerrard Randall do it, because he has that electric playmaking ability.
David Potts: Yup. Randall really proved something during this game, making throws that I didn't think he was capable of making. Part of that might just be the wide receivers getting used to how hard Randall rockets the ball to them, but as long as we're moving the ball, I'm happy. Solomon struggled to do that in recent games, and I'm perfectly fine going with the hot hand in Randall.
Jason Bartel: I'm right on board as well. It's been kind of amazing to me how much better the offense functioned with Randall in the game compared to Anu the last two weeks. The only thing I'm curious to see is if Jerrard is as effective against the defense at the beginning of the game, when they haven't already been chasing down Arizona's receivers all day.
Ryan Kelapire: I am not. I do think it'd be a good idea to go with more of a two-quarterback system, but I don't think Jerrard Randall as the full-time QB is the answer. We saw when he started that eventually his inability to move the ball through the air severely limits the offense. I think the underlying issue with the offense when Anu is out there is that the running game has been sporatic. It has been able to break off some big gains here and there, but as a whole, isn't as productive as year's past.
2. Is it time to move Cayman Bundage back to guard?
GE: Time to remove Cayman Bundage from the lineup. Putting him at guard would kick out Freddie Tagaloa or Jacob Alsadek, and they are far more valuable than Bundage. Tagaloa isn't the beast we thought he would be, but with Layth Friekh next to him, it's not a bad blind side. Bundage sets the offense back way too far, so just keep Zach Hemmila at center and pull the plug on Bundage.
DP: Gabe's right. As good as Bundage has been for Arizona over his career, he just doesn't fit anywhere right now. I guess we could slide him back in at guard and make Tagaloa the universal backup, but the simplest (and probably best) answer is to just sit Bundage.
JB: Bundage was so good at playing guard the last two years though. It seems ridiculous that Arizona would have either him or Tagaloa on the sidelines because Layth Friekh has become so valuable at tackle. I don't know what the perfect solution is, but whatever it is, it involves Zach Hemmila playing center...for now.
RK: I agree with everyone here. If he doesn't start at center, which he shouldn't given his snap issues, then he should be relegated to a backup role. It's really unfortunate though, since he was willing to move from guard to center to help the team after Carter Wood's injury.
3. Did you like not going for the late field goal at the time?
GE: I liked it. Field goals weren't going to win the game, and the way the Cougar offense was rolling, you were depending on a stop if you went for a field goal. I have no problems with the call.
DP: Yes, yes, yes. I think we should go for it in that spot the majority of the time, but the decision was made even easier given the deficit at the time and the defense's inability to stop the Washington State offense. Kicking the field goal would have been a maddeningly conservative decision, and I'm glad we didn't do it.
JB: At the time, I thought Arizona needed to kick it. Playing the results now, it was obviously the right call. I don't trust the offense to get those important short-yardage first downs deep in the red zone, especially after failing to convert on 4th-and-2 from the 8 in the third quarter. Guess what, take three points there, and this game is still going on.
RK: Yes. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I thought the touchdown was going to be needed because I didn't think Arizona was going to be able to get the amount of stops needed to get back into the game with field goals.
4. Were you even aware that teams were allowed to run punts back?
GE: Nope, because we never returned any punts this year, and last year with DaVonte' Neal he would let the ball bounce and continue to follow it as closely as possible. So I just always thought that you either caught the ball for the fair catch or let the ball bounce into your own territory.
DP: Well, that high school coach who never punts also does not return punts anymore, so I always just told myself we were better off not returning them because nothing good could come of it. Good to see we can still (occasionally) score that way.
JB: I only knew this was a football rule because CougCenter told me how bad they were at stopping teams from doing it. And they proved it...again. Too bad it wasn't enough.
RK: I thought it was something you could only do in Madden, but hey, I guess it's allowed in real life football too. Who knew?