Arizona’s first sellout crowd in more than seven years went home disappointed on Saturday night, as the Wildcats were thumped 49-22 by No. 12 Oregon.
“We we didn’t stop them, we turned it over, and that’s usually a recipe for not winning the game,” UA coach Jedd Fisch said afterward.
The UA sits at 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the Pac-12 heading into next weekend’s game at Washington, its last before a bye.
Our full recap can be found here. Below is what Fisch had to say after the loss:
On Oregon: “They got a very, very good football team. They’re gonna win a lot of games this year, as they have already, and he’s done a tremendous job with that team.”
On the red zone fumble on the opening drive: “Every part of the play was executed exactly how we wanted it. It was tackle over, Jordan Morgan was over on the other side, we had the formation we wanted, we had the tempo we wanted. To be honest, the pocket just wasn’t big enough. Jacob (Cowing) just didn’t give a big enough pocket, as he said, ‘I didn’t do a good job taking the exchange.’ He was the first person off the field saying that.”
On how that turnover affected the outcome of the game: “It would have been our sixth game that we scored on the opening drive. We’re sitting there 1st and goal and we fumbled an exchange that we’ve practiced throughout all of the spring and summer. So that was disappointing and frustrating. But we bounced back, we go back down the next drive, kick the field goal. And then after that, I think we couldn’t keep up. They were going and we weren’t stopping them. And then we got stopped a couple of times in a row, pinned them back and didn’t the stops. It wasn’t the type of game we wanted to have, but (Oregon) played a complete game.”
On learning from the loss: “Our players in the locker room, we tell them all the time, you win or learn. In this case we learned, and we learned how to get better, and now we’ll go back and keep working and see if we can have the best Sunday we’ve had all year.”
On being unable to stop the run and what it does to the overall game plan: “It’s very frustrating. And stopping the run is in a lot of different phases. Whether it’s being gap sound, whether it’s lining up properly, whether it’s tackling, whether it’s getting more people to the ball. We can’t we can’t play like this. We can’t be in a situation where we let up 300 yards rushing, and we’re going to fight, scrap and claw to find a way to not do that. But our guys are in a really good place, mentally, to go out there and and recognize that it’s going to come down to practicing. It’s going to come down to execution, come down to being more physical, and I expect us to do that. We’ve also gone against some really, really good rushing offenses, especially this one.”
On what made Oregon’s offense so effective: “What you can see while it’s happening live and I’m sure we’ll see it on the film is, what they do a really good job of is kicking the ball out. So if you sell out inside they do a really good job on the perimeter, perimeter screens, bubble passes. And then what happens is you start cheating up, cheating up, cheating up, and that’s when they hit two big explosive passes over the top. You’re trying to sell out the stop the run and that’s what happens. But we have to improve there. There’s no question about it. And we’re going to work very hard at it. And we’re not going to make excuses. We’re just going to figure out how to do it. There’s either reasons or results.”
On why Michael Wiley didn’t play in the second half: “Something with his abs, either an oblique strain of some nature. And where the game was I didn’t want to continue with him. I wanted to make sure he was healthy.”
On falling behind early: “We did get out on a quick start, we just didn’t score the first possession. And the second possession, we drove all the way down and kicked a field goal. And then the third possession we got to the 50 and tried to pin them back to the minus-nine and then they drove 91 yards on us there. Then what happened was it goes from 7-3 to 14-3, and still even at half it was a 2-score game, it was 28-13. We know that we’re going to continue to improve, our players understand that we’re not going to achieve prosperity or adversity any differently. We’re just gonna get better, and if we can keep finding ways to improve, we’re playing a lot of young guys that are getting better every week. It’s exciting to see the improvements that guys like Jonah Coleman are making. It’s exciting to see the improvement that T-Mac is making every week, Dorian Singer every week. Keyan (Burnett) got three catches this game, first time he’s had a catch this year. DJ Williams broke a (52)-yarder tonight, which was a big play for us. So there’s a lot of positives caught up in what unfortunately was a lopsided game.”
On if he saw any similarities to the Cal game in terms of the second play: “In this game it was 28-13, they score at the start the second half to make it 35-13. And then we got exactly what we wanted on 3rd and 6 and the ball got tipped up in the air (and intercepted) and then it’s 42-13. And that’s just what you have to deal with. We ended up scoring nine points and they ended up scoring seven the last 20 minutes of the game. So in the end, I think it was a situation where, when the ball gets tipped up, the ball gets tipped up. We had a couple of those this year that we haven’t caught. We had one that we did catch today but we were offsides. Those are plays you got to make, and that was unfortunate it happened.”
On if Jayden de Laura seemed frustrated: “I actually thought that tonight his demeanor was the best it’s been all year. Coming off the sideline, coming to communicate, telling me what he’s seeing, telling me what he wants to get to. I thought he did a great job. I think we’re all frustrated when we don’t win, I think we’re all frustrated when you’re not moving the ball and score. That’s gonna always be the case. But Jayden’s a great competitor. I thought he handled himself extremely well tonight. I think he was frustrated that we didn’t maybe turn inside instead of outside when he threw the ball to his inside shoulder, it was really his only frustration, I believe.”
On the difficulties de Laura faced having to play from behind: “You never want to be in a situation where they know you’re throwing. That’s always a challenge. You can see, at the end of the half, we hit a run, you got a big explosive (play) that way. We took two sacks, but if you look at the sacks, I mean, one of which came off from his blindside, which was a sack fumble on 1st and 10 from the 14. We talked about we gotta get that cleaned up, that shouldn’t have been a sack. We should have blocked that great. And then there was one other one that he went backwards on, they got us again. So we got sacked twice, I thought that he needs to continue to work on stepping up in the pocket, continue to embrace the fact that there’s always going to be pressure, and when that pressure occurs, he’s got to find a way to continue to work through it. Jayden de Laura is an outstanding quarterback, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he responds this week in practice, and I would expect him to have a great game against Washington.”
On if the defense can improve with the players it has: “We have to find a way to continue to develop other players we have on our roster, continue to recruit well and continue to get the players that we have playing defense right now playing at a highest level. And we’re going to continue to work through that, we’re going to continue to build off of it. And we can’t put our defense in a bad position either. It should be 7-0, and then they got the stop, and then we should have the ball again and have a chance to go up 10 or 14-0. But instead it didn’t go that way. Who knows what the game would have looked like if we were in that situation. We’re a full team. We are complementary team. I thought our defense played an outstanding fourth quarter, really the last five minutes or the third and fourth. And they were playing their starters all the way until I think nine minutes or eight minutes left. I thought our defense did a great job of continuing to go out there and to fight, and that’s a credit to the defensive coaching staff. And that’s a credit to our defensive players. They fought and fought and fought. They tried to get a strip, they tried to get a pick, and credit to them.”
On defending a mobile quarterback: “They’re very challenging to defend, very challenging to deal with. They do a really good job. This program has been going on now for a long time. There hasn’t been many hiccups in their recruiting cycles. They have a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of good players on that team, Bo Nix being one of them. I think it’s a program that has done a great job in the Pac-12 for a lot of years, and we know that we’ve got to find a way to match that in the years to come.”
On if Arizona is trying to compare itself to Oregon: “I don’t know if we’re measuring ourselves. We played Mississippi State here, and they’re sitting at 5-1, and the only game they lost was a weird game at LSU. We don’t measure ourselves against Mississippi State. We don’t measure ourselves against Oregon. We measure ourselves against ourselves. We have a standard, and our standard is to perform at the very best of the opportunity we have. And if we can continue to do that here’s going to be a lot of things in our future. We love our kids. We have a lot of young kids. We have a lot of kids that you’re going to be covering for the next two, three or four years. We’re just going to get better. And as we continue to get better, more and more people will want to join this program. And as they continue to want to join this program we’re going to be in that same position as the teams that have been able to recruit for five, seven years to the exact same system.”