When the Utah Utes came to town last week, I don't thing anyone expected them to have the lesser of the two defensive lines.
Well, the Arizona Wildcats made that happen on their way to bowl eligibility. Let's talk about that defensive line performance, bowl games, and, most importantly, #Pac12AfterDark.
Jason Bartel: Was that the best defensive line performance under this staff?
Gabe Encinas: Oregon back in 2013. That was statistically Arizona's best defensive season, only giving up 24 points a game. Funny thing is, that was still a 3-3-5 defense.
It all started with the Shaq Richardson alley oop interception to Scooby Wright, and the rest was history. That was a near flawless game by B.J. Denker, going 19/22 for 280 total yards, with Ka'Deem's 46 rushes for 206 yards certainly stand out. But the defense held Oregon to just 16 points, who was averaging over 45 points a game. The team just sees that tempo/scheme every day in practice, so I believe Rich Rodriguez when he says it's easier to game plan and match up against the Ducks.
Alec Sills-Trausch: Definitely not. I mean it might seem like it was a good performance because none of their RB's found semi-truck sized holes to run through, but Utah still accumulated 223 yards on the ground, albeit on 55 carries. I think the secondary deserves much more credit for stepping up (though Travis Wilson isn't exactly anyone's first choice at QB) and limiting the big plays. Total team effort in my mind.
David Potts: Most impressive defensive line performance this year, to be sure, but I don't think it's the best defensive line performance under this staff. It's always hard to gauge the defensive line versus the linebackers and safeties in this defensive scheme (as a productive day from the linebackers and safeties can mean that the defensive line occupied blockers). I'm inclined to think last year's game against Utah was a better performance by the line, but Dan Pettinato's touchdown return may be clouding my mind.
James Schlittenhart: I think Gabe hit it on the head. That Oregon game was easily the most impressive display put on by a Casteel defense in Arizona. I do think that an honorable mention should go to the 2012 Oklahoma State game. We later found out that OK State wasn't the team everyone thought they would be, but that team had lambasted Arizona the previous two years. The defense forced three interceptions in that game, one returned for a touchdown, and held up just long enough against a much bigger and stronger Oklahoma State front. It wasn't the most statistically dominant performance, but it was an important one that jump started the RichRod era.
Ryan Kelapire: I agree with everyone else. It was certainly a great performance by the defensive line, all things considered, but it wasn't the best in Rich Rod's tenure. The performances in the Oregon wins in the last two years were better, and don't forget when the team held Boston College's Andre Williams to 75 yards on 26 carries in the Advocare Bowl. Still, it's fun that we can talk about this instead of things that aren't as fun -- like giving up 49 points to Washington.
JB: How would you explain #Pac12AfterDark to someone that hasn't heard of it before?
GE: It's just something you have to witness on your own. Some weird things happen, and you see things that cannot be unseen.
AST: I would tell them to write down everything they think would happen during those games. Once they did, I'd mark it with a big ‘X,' and call in the air force to blow it to smithereens because those things would definitely not happen.
DP: Football as directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
JS: This hypothetical person has to be from the East Coast. I'd put on a sweater from an Ivy League college and fire up the Boston accent. "Do yah remembah when Malcolm Butler and Pahts won the Super Bowl with that wicked smaht pick? That's every game with #Pac12AfterDahk."
RK: Basically, expect the unexpected. For some reason anyone can beat anyone in the late games, and always in the most dramatic or head-scratching fashion.
JB: A bowl game in Chase Field would be pretty cool, right?
GE: I really enjoyed going to the Insight/Cactus Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. I don't really remember what it was like to go to Insight Bowls back when it was played in Bank One Ballpark, but I can't imagine that the angles are all that great in some areas, and the feel just nearly isn't the same.
AST: Maybe? I've never felt like safety is the main concern when they try to fit a 100 yard field into a 100 yard area, because players definitely never run out of bounds... But if we're down to see Derek Jeter type plays, at least these guys have helmets. This might be slightly off topic, but can we talk about how San Diego but a 9 hole golf course in their stadium? I think that's something every baseball stadium in warmer climates should do.
DP: I'd like it. They managed to make playing in Chase Field work before, and Sun Devil Stadium is still a dump, so I'd rather not play in that stadium again. More than anything, though, I would just love for Arizona to play a bowl game in Phoenix. I don't want them to have to go to Shreveport again.
JS: Of course! Keeping with my Boston theme, it's pretty cool to see how Fenway Park underwent a transformation for the Notre Dame game, and I'm betting that a similar setup in Chase Field would be great. Much like David, I'd take Chase Field every time over Sun Devil Stadium.
RK: I'm a Diamondbacks fan, so in that aspect it'd be cool, but Chase Field doesn't seem like a good place to play football. I guess if the winning team gets to jump in the pool after the game it would alleviate that concern though. Imagine Rich Rod doing a cannonball!