The losing streak has ended in a very impressive manner.
For the first time this season, the Arizona Wildcats dominated a conference opponent from start to finish. The offense averaged a whopping 10.7 yards per carry while racking up 512 total rushing yards (a new school record), and registered only 77 passing yards.
In spite of allowing 492 total yards, the defense did their part as well. They held ASU to one fourth down conversion in six attempts. If you count those five stops as turnovers, the defense forced seven total turnovers.
So beyond the stats, what did we learn from this performance?
The Bulletin Board Material Theory is real
There was a lot of talk about UA’s deficiencies on defense from the school in Tempe last week. One player specifically, Kody Kohl, called them out by claiming opponents “seem to be running all over them”. I’m not going to debate if there is any validity to this statement. However, I will point out that, like many other Arizona fans, I had no idea who this guy was. I would imagine that nearly 80% of the ASU fan base had no idea who this guy was.
It was evident that the Arizona team we saw last night was playing with a high level of emotion and they were desperate for a win. This team wanted to send their seniors off on a positive note after a disappointing season. They were already motivated, but comments by unknowns like Kohl definitely added motivation.
Kohl’s on field contribution last night came in the form of a false start penalty, but he actually did a lot more than just that. He ran his mouth about this UA defense early in the week which allowed the comments to stew with the players.
We often hear the term “bulletin board material” and it’s fair to ask what it can do in terms of motivation. This is an obvious example that gives legs to the theory. I understand Kohl was just taking after his coach who loves to run his mouth as well. The lesson is simple, keep your comments to yourself and don’t give your opponent any added motivation.
Samajie Grant’s NFL Value
When the coaching staff decided to convert Samajie Grant to running back, it was a decision made for the best interest of the team. I think it was also a way to further showcase the senior’s skill set.
In the five games where Samajie started at running back, he gained 461 yards and tallied six touchdowns. He also had two games where he gained over 100 yards. Not bad for a slot receiver to average over six yards on 74 carries right?
It’s clear that he does not have the size to be an effective running back at the next level. However, the conversion was a way for him to show scouts what he can do when he gets in space. Shifty slot receivers have become increasingly valuable in the NFL and I hope that this conversion experiment has boosted his value at the next level.
Rich Rod extends his Senior Day winning streak
Rich Rodriguez is 4-1 in Senior Day games and is currently riding a four-game winning streak. The last two seasons have not unfolded in the way that we all hoped after winning the Pac-12 south. However, Coach Rodriguez knows how to send off his seniors right when they are honored during the last home game.
I understand this is just a consolation, but keep in mind the players are college students. This is a big boost for their psyche and a fun way to conclude their collegiate careers. It’s all about bragging rights when you reminisce about college. You hear former collegiate athletes talk about their record against their rival all the time rather it be on ESPN or sports talk radio.
The 2016 seniors have the privilege to say that they whooped their detested rival on Senior Night. Congratulations to all the seniors and the rest of the team. This was a much-needed win and a great way to carry over momentum to next year.