The Arizona Wildcats (0-4, 0-1) fell to the No. 3 Oregon Ducks 41-19 on Saturday, extending their losing streak to 16 games.
Our recap can be found here and below is what UA head coach Jedd Fisch said after the game.
On Fisch’s overall takeaways from the game: “Our guys came out today and there was a lot of good football that was played tonight. Really excited and proud of the step forward that we took in a lot of areas, but one of the things that we talk about all the time is before you learn how to win, you have to keep from losing. And when you turn the ball over five times and commit nine penalties that’s what’s gonna happen. I think Oregon is a very good football team, as we know. They’re the No. 3 team in the country and rightfully so. And they’ve won every game and they’ve won them well. I think we had a great battle going, we had some opportunities. You look at some of the plays that were unfortunately not made for us. We had a throwback and a kick return that was a 65-yard return and we wind up not being on the details. And when you do that, and you throw it forward, instead of backwards after practicing it for three weeks, you can’t do that. And you can’t turn it over five times. But there’s a lot of positives from the way our guys competed. We’re not a moral victory team. But what we are is a team that strives to get better every day. And I do believe we got better today than we were yesterday.”
On the decision to start Jordan McCloud at quarterback: “Jordan’s our best quarterback, and that’s why we started him. Jordan will remain our starter and he’ll play as long as he stays healthy. He has an ability, the more we were with him, the more he understood the system. The biggest concern I had going into the season was he only got here in training camp, and we didn’t have him in the spring like we had the other two. … He just had the poise to keep on battling. He was never afraid to throw the football. I’m sure he’s very upset right now. And I hate that for him but those things happen, and we’re going to grow from it and get better, but he’s our best player at that position and that’s why we played him.”
On the evolution of Arizona’s starting quarterback competition: “Obviously, Gunner (Cruz) started the season against BYU and had a really good game for the most part. There were some things to clean up. And then we played him against San Diego State and there was just some things that we need to get better at. Gave Will (Plummer) an opportunity to see how he played. But Will was dinged up after the game, we weren’t sure what his health was going to be. We’ve had Gunner and Jordan compete all week and Jordan showed that he had the grasp of the offense that we were looking for. At that time we made the decision after Thursday’s practice that we were going to do that and went with that and we feel comfortable that decision.”
On who will be the backup quarterback: “Gunner right now will be the backup until Will’s shoulder is 100% and then those two guys will compete. That’s a great competition too, the backup quarterback competition. I lived it with Jared Stidham and Brian Hoyer last year, and that position is a big thing. You got to compete. You got to want to go on the other field. You got to want to say ‘I want to run the scout team. I want to throw to guys like Majon Wright. I want to go out there and I want to find a way to get better rather than be the third string guy and just watch.’ So it’ll be interesting to see who takes that advice and who listens to this interview.”
On the vibe on the sideline only being down by one score to begin the fourth quarter: “The vibe all the way through was that we’re in this football game, and this is the type of game we wanted to play. We talked the whole week about how we felt the game was going to go and we said that at the start of the fourth quarter it’s gonna be a one-score game. Whether it be for us or for them, it’s gonna be a one-score game and then we’re gonna let it roll and see what it looks like. And we we did that. They’re very good. They’re very, very good. And we gave them the ball in bad spots. They were able to rip off some beautiful runs, they got some great players, and Mario’s done a great job. He’s been here now since 2017 when he came as the O -line coach, he’s recruited extremely well and built this program up and they’re a force to be reckoned with.”
On the running game tallying over 200 yards: “Our guys are becoming more and more comfortable with the scheme and they’re becoming more and more comfortable with what we’re trying to get accomplished. The runners ran with a real sense of purpose. Today you can see there was a discipline in the running. Sometimes with the run game, especially a zone running game, which we run, is you have to have a discipline. You have to discipline to press a block and cut back. You have to have a discipline to know when to bounce it (outside). And I feel like with reps and opportunities, they’re showing that they can get better at it.”
On Mo Diallo’s safety sack that cut Oregon’s lead to 24-12 in the third quarter: “I was still a little salty about the interception to be quite frank. We can’t miss on a corner route when we were at that spot. We kind of lobbed it in there, kind of took it for granted. And then it becomes an interception. I just ran into a huddle and I said a safety would be beautiful right boys. And only did they give it to us, but we also responded with a touchdown in the same way that happened in the BYU game. Once we got the kick off, we were able to drive another 70 yards. So that was really good moment. Mo (Diallo) only played in the second half because of the targeting. Jaxen Turner only played the second half, but I think we’re a healthy football team going into the bye. We’re gonna work really hard in the bye. We’re gonna put some shoulder pads on, it’s full pads on and we’re gonna treat this thing as a way to get better.”
On if Jamarye Joiner will be 100 percent against UCLA: “I think Jamarye is 100 percent now.”
On kicking a field goal down 22 with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter: “Because we haven’t been kicking the ball very well and we missed two field goals against BYU that were pretty costly. We need to get that part of the game going. There was two minutes and 12 seconds left. We weren’t going to come back at that point. We were down 22 points and we need to find a way to find wins. And in my mind, one of those ways is when the game is going to be on the line here, in whatever amount of weeks we have, one of these games we’re going to need a field goal to win it. And I wanted to get that repetition in there and see how we can do. We didn’t do well.”
On the positives from the loss: “Well, we came in to Autzen Stadium, against the number three team in the country, and it was a five-point game going into the fourth quarter. We rushed for over 200 yards, we threw for over 200 yards, we’re very balanced, is what we’ve always wanted to be. Jordan was able to get, I don’t know how many plays we ran today, but I feel like we called a lot of plays. And that’s a lot of repetitions that he took. I wasn’t going to take him out and not let him finish the game. I wanted him to feel it. I want him to understand so if we call that play again he understands what caused that interception and how we can improve upon it. I liked the way we controlled the ball in terms of time of possession. That’s a big thing for us. And if we could be physical, get negative plays, tackles for losses, and be able to run the football, good things are going to come. But right now we saw the standard in the Pac-12.”
On the bye week schedule: “We’re gonna practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then we’re gonna let the guys go get refreshed after their lift on Thursday, and then we’ll bring it back in on Sunday. The coaches...we’ll meet Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then we’re going to recruit Thursday, Friday, and then it’ll be nice to get Saturday off.”