The Arizona Wildcats had themselves a heck of a game on Saturday.
With the Oregon Ducks coming into town for Homecoming, the ‘Cats showed up in all three phases.
Not a lot went wrong in UA’s 44-15 blowout win. Let’s take a look at the ups and downs for Arizona.
The offense was not perfect, but it arguably had one of its best performances of the season.
The offensive line dominated Oregon’s defensive line, which had been solid all season until Saturday. This allowed all runners for Arizona, especially J.J. Taylor, to tee off on UO’s defense. Taylor had the best game of his career, tallying 212 yards on 30 carries and two scores. Even Khalil Tate got in on the action with almost 30 yards on the ground. Arizona finished with 276 yards on the ground.
Tate and the receivers had an overall solid game as well through the air. They did just enough to keep the offense moving, but make no mistake, they definitely made some some big plays. Shawn Poindexter caught the first touchdown of the game when he was wide open with no one around him for 25 yards. He finished the night with two touchdowns.
Shun Brown also had himself quite the night. He had the most catches (10) and yards (96) on the night for Arizona. He had a really nice catch and run for a 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Down: Some playcalling/execution in the first half
This is incredibly nitpicky considering the outcome of the game, but I believe it does need to be talked about.
Three times Arizona started with excellent field position or drove down the field, only to come up with field goals. This happened twice after UA got a turnover or blocked punt.
Now it is nice to get points off a turnover, but you want touchdowns. The field goals kept Oregon in the game longer than they should’ve been.
These results from ineffective play-calling or just “meh” execution. This, however, only happened early in the first half. It was not a problem after Arizona’s 18-play, 88-yard drive that ended with a touchdown and chewed over seven minutes off the clock in the second quarter. The offense clicked after that drive.
I don’t think I need to say too much here, but I’m going to. The defense dominated all night.
The defensive front owned the line of scrimmage and did a great job with the pass rush. Arizona was able to get pressure on Justin Herbert most of the night and make him uncomfortable. Not to mention holding Oregon’s rushing attack to only 84 yards. The Ducks literally had no room to run all night.
The secondary played decent all night as well. It tackled well, covered well, were disruptive, and pressed the receivers. There were times that an Oregon receiver was open but was overthrown or had a poor ball thrown to them. This was due to the pressure on Herbert.
Let us not forget the defense stuffing Oregon at the 1-yard line near the end of the game. Or the fact that they held Oregon to 3 for 16 on third downs. Or the fact that the Ducks only had 270 yards of total offense.
This was undoubtedly the defense’s best performance all season.
Down: Oregon’s last TD drive
This, too, is nitpicky. I’m not going to spend too much time on it.
The point here is that I feel that Arizona could’ve held Oregon to a single-digit score. Oregon scored in the fourth quarter due to prevent defense.
I feel like that shouldn’t have been the play-calling, but that’s really because I don’t like that type of defense.
That’s really the only negative I can say about the defense. Marcel Yates called a heck of a game.
Up: Special Teams
The group did exactly what they needed to do and more.
Josh Pollack was money all night. Lucas Havrisik had a nifty squib kick that caused issues for Oregon’s returner, who then fumbled on the ensuing hit. Dylan Klumph flipped the field all night. He landed two kicks inside the 10-yard line.
Finally, let us not forget Chacho Ulloa blocking a Duck punt to give Arizona the ball at Oregon’s 6-yard line.
It was the most complete and strongest performance for the group all year.
Down: Uh.....I don’t know. The amount of penalties?
Arizona finished with 11 for 106 yards. And two of those I can’t blame the ‘Cats for.
The first one was Shun Brown’s unsportsmanlike after his 27-yard touchdown, with him posing on the ground. He wouldn’t have been on the ground had Oregon’s Ugochukwu Amadi not shoved him down late. But that wasn’t called.
Due to the late shove by Amadi, Kevin Sumlin showed his displeasure toward the officials, and rightfully so. He ended up receiving an unsportsmanlike as well. Neither of these penalties are a big deal, and to me, both are understandable.