Football is a difficult game to play and, arguably, a challenging sport to coach at a high level.
Yet, it is a pretty simple game to understand.
If you don’t have the better players and your coaching staff isn’t good enough to make up the difference, you’re going to struggle.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2021 Arizona Wildcats, 0-3 on the season and owners of a nation-worst 15-game losing streak.
The idea that the Cats are struggling to win games is truthfully not all that surprising. While there was hope that the talent and coaching had both been upgraded enough for the team to compete, it was far from a given.
A competitive Week 1 loss to BYU provided reason to believe, but it’s been all downhill since then.
Hopefully the inexcusable defeat at the hands of Northern Arizona University is rock bottom, because if it’s not ...
Many are asking not when, but if the Wildcats will win a game this season. It’s difficult to imagine them going winless over the course of a full season, but truthfully there is not a game left on the schedule you can feel confident about.
That’s especially true as the coaches continue to play quarterback roulette, and even more so while the offensive line shows no ability to do pretty much anything well. Until those issues are resolved it won’t matter how improved the defense and special teams are, it’s going to be a weekly struggle.
Unfortunately for Arizona, the line issues are ongoing and the answer to the question at QB may not currently be on the roster. The coaching staff deserves criticism over what’s transpired thus far, but it would also be unfair to blame them for a roster largely not of their making.
Be that as it may, though, they are responsible for getting the most out of whatever they have to work with. If they were doing that, the loss to NAU would not have happened.
So what comes next? If you were hoping the school would fire Jedd Fisch, that isn’t going to happen.
Arizona has nine Pac-12 games to play, and as of now they are expected to lose each and every one of them. That does not mean they are going to, of course, and odds are they’ll have a chance to win at least a couple of them.
Beside that the actual, legitimate goals set out for this season are still attainable.
It’s all about playing hard every week and progressing as a program. Beating ASU wouldn’t hurt, either.
By continuing to play hard Arizona can show that the culture has improved. That was always the most important thing that could be taken from this season, a washing away of the last few years creating a clean slate with which to build upon. That was never likely to manifest in a good record, but it will be pretty apparent if the team has quit on the new staff at any point.
In the meantime the coaches can continue to implement and adjust their system, learning what works and what doesn’t, while off the field recruiting at a fairly high level. All of that sets the stage for improvement, if not this season then certainly for the next one.
Fisch has been adamant about people having patience, which is the type of thing you’d expect from a coach who is 0-3 but also plenty fair given the circumstances. The most recent loss officially ended the honeymoon, but the coach and his staff still deserve a grace period to get more of their players into the program.
There are myriad reasons for why Arizona has lost 15 consecutive games, a streak that spans parts of three seasons and two coaching staffs.
While the losing streak should have ended last week, it is likely to persevere at least a little while longer as an under-talented team finds its footing while being guided by a first-year head coach.