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Arizona’s players of the game vs. USC

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Khalil Tate didn’t have his best game, but he handled adversity well again

Arizona v USC Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats’ four-game winning streak came to an end Saturday as they fell to the USC Trojans, 49-35 at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Arizona falls to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-12, second place in the Pac-12 South. You can find our recap of that game here.

Here are the Arizona players that stood out the most.


Offense

Khalil Tate

This was Khalil Tate’s worst game since taking over as Arizona’s No. 1 quarterback but he was still pretty good.

Tate was 14 for 31 for 146 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions through the air, and ran for 161 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

The problem is it was a tale of two halves for the sophomore. Tate only racked up 58 yards total in the first half, before exploding as usual in the second half.

Because of that, Arizona trailed by 15 at halftime and as many as 22 points in the third quarter. It was pretty much proof that Arizona goes as Tate goes. The defense itself isn’t going to win UA any ballgames this year.

What was especially impressive about Tate’s performance is that he overcame adversity again. He followed up his worst half of the season with a strong second half, nearly leading the Wildcats to a comeback win — impressive stuff for a 19-year-old and a quality you want from a player who has become the face of the Arizona program.

The most notable dropoff in Tate’s performance is that he was unable to connect on any of the countless number of deep passes that he threw. He had shown incredible touch on his deep passes in weeks prior, but that did not translate against USC.

Look for him to have a huge game next weekend against the lowly Oregon State Beavers.

Defense

Dane Cruikshank

USC was up 21-6 at halftime, but it should’ve had an even bigger lead than that.

Already up 7-0, the Trojans drove 97 yards on just nine plays to get to the UA two-yard line.

USC was destroying Arizona on the ground, but decided to let Sam Darnold try to throw for a touchdown for whatever reason, and that backfired thanks to Dane Cruikshank who intercepted the USC quarterback in the end zone.

Arizona would get a field goal on its next drive to cut the deficit to 7-3, a real momentum swing.

Cruikshank finished with 10 tackles, too, tying a career-high.

Special teams

Lucas Havrisik

Lucas Havrisik has officially overtaken Josh Pollack as UA’s full-time placekicker. Arizona turned to the freshman for both of its field goal attempts against USC and that decision certainly paid off.

Havrisik was responsible for all six of Arizona’s first-half points, drilling a 45-yard field goal and a 42-yard field goal.

He is 3 for 3 on kicks that haven’t been blocked this season, with his other make being a 57-yard field goal against Washington State last week.

Arizona looks to be set at kicker for the next three years. Havrisik is the real deal.

Honorable mention

Shun Brown

Tate completed 14 passes, and eight of them were to Brown, who tallied 78 yards, including a 30-yard score that put the Wildcats within eight points with 1:32 left in the third quarter.

Those eight catches were a career-high and so are the 32 receptions he’s made this season.

Brown also had a 31-yard punt return that put Arizona in USC territory before its eventual game-tying drive.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire