The Arizona Wildcats’ 2018 season is over.
After getting out to a 19-point lead in the second half against arch-rival Arizona State, Arizona went into ultra-conservative mode, and eventually coughed up the lead.
The way this game ended seems fitting for what the entire season for this team and this coaching staff looked like. So let’s grade the final game of this “new era” of Arizona football.
All Position Groups: B+
Arizona’s players outplayed ASU in every aspect of the game when given the freedom to perform the way they were able. The defensive line was consistently taking advantage of an injured Sun Devil front, the offense was moving the ball well (outside of the redzone), and there were even decent special teams plays. Everything was going fine.
Then the gameplan changed.
Coaching staff: F
I was actually pleasantly surprised with the coaching staff in the first 40-ish minutes of this game with the exception of deciding to chase a two-point conversion early in the game and not teaching guys to just fall on fumbles.
There were different looks on offense including direct snaps to J.J. Taylor, the defensive scheme was tailored perfectly to get pressure in the Sun Devil backfield consistently...everything was going swimmingly.
Then the gameplan went from “you play to win the game” to “don’t screw this up”.
And screw it up they did.
Gone were the days of odd-man rush packages. ASU had all the time they needed for plays to develop with Arizona’s now-patented three-man “rush”. A team that had only managed to put 20 points on the board in the first 47 minutes of the game all of a sudden scored 21 over the final 13 against the prevent defense.
Marcel Yates: don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
But what about the offense? You know, the one that scored 40 points in 42 minutes and should have had more if the coaching staff hadn’t been chasing an extra point the entire game.
Well, how about dive plays over and over? Yeah, that sounds like a recipe to keep scoring points and keep the pressure on the other team...the VISITING team.
In the three most crucial drives of the game, Arizona picked up 15 yards on 11 plays. Those 11 plays? 8 rushes by Taylor, a Khalil Tate interception, a Tate incompletion, and a Taylor fumble.
Yep, that sounds like a great way to lock up a game you should have won going away.
And then at the end, when the offense finally gets some momentum again, you opt to play for the long field goal and call some short rushing plays instead of trying to actually move the ball.
This loss is on you, coaching staff.
This game is not on the players. This season is not on the players. It’s all on the coaching staff, and it’s time to see some accountability at that level or Kevin Sumlin will never earn the trust of this fanbase.