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3 keys to an Arizona win over Cal

Which Wildcats will we see?

NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Will the real Arizona Wildcats please stand up?

Despite the USC Trojans giving Arizona every chance to win last week, Arizona was like ‘nah we’re good, thanks though’ and lost by four points to fall to 1-1 in conference play and 2-3 overall.

My biggest takeaway was the lack of identity this Wildcat team has, and time is running out to establish one.

So will Family Weekend be the time to find that identity and take out a California Golden Bears team that might be good but might not really be? Well, we’ve got the keys, keys, keys, keys to victory:

1. Five Hundred Miles

of rushing yards. Khalil Tate has never really been an effective passer and every time this team relies on his arm to win them a game, well, they don’t win.

So is Tate hurt? Maybe, but it doesn’t even seem like the coaches and the quarterback have ever been on the same page with this. If he is hurt maybe hand the ball off to J.J. Taylor (and have him run the edge) or Gary Brightwell (and have him run in between the hashes)?

Add to this the fact that Cal’s passing defense numbers are much, much better than their rushing defense numbers and you have all the reasons to run the ball.

This is a team whose true identity is a rushing team, and if they don’t, they don’t win. It’s that simple.

2. Role Model

Role models are typically people that don’t break the law, right?

Well, how about Arizona shows some more role model qualities when it comes to penalties.

Arizona is averaging 68.8 penalty yards per game this year, which is the third-most in the Pac-12. Only Washington State and USC get penalized more, and USC’s penalty game was historically bad last week.

I get the feeling that UA will be playing fairly close games all year since most of the conference seems to be roughly the same. So giving up that many yards for free can be very costly and be a direct reason the team lost.

It also seems like Arizona commits bad penalties on would-be big plays, which makes those penalties even worse. How many meaningless ineligible man downfield calls have we seen the past couple weeks? And on scoring or huge chunk plays at that?

Limit the self-imposed yardage ban and maybe that leads to more points? And we all know points are necessary to win the game.

3. Take Back The Night

Cal games have lots of turnovers in them this year. Their ten turnovers lost are the most in the conference, but they also have eight takeaways.

Arizona has exactly half of that in each category.

Turnovers are always a huge factor in who wins and loses, so Arizona will need to take advantage of Cal’s inability to hang on to the ball very well. If the defense can actually make some of those big plays in this game, maybe they should be able to improve to 2-1 in conference play and still be right in the mix.