Arizona Wildcats

Back and Forth and my Two Cents

(Marana, AZ)

With an opening game loss to a decent but not particularly strong BYU  team, there was a lot of headshaking by both fans and alumni trying to grasp how and why this Arizona Wildcat team looked so bad.

Khalil Tate was reduced to a one demensional quarterback by almost refusing to run when huge open lanes presented themselves. He was 0-11 in passes over twenty yards. If he was allowed to make play decisions off reads, then his reads were way off.

The offensive line was exposed as nothing short of soft and was pushed around by the Cougar defense like rag dolls.

In spite of those deficiencies, there were moments that sparked the fire  of what experts thought would be a Pac-12 title contending Wildcat team.

BYU ran away from the Cats in the third quarter and really never looked back.

The following Monday, Coach Sumlin in his weekly press conference stated that Tate needed to utilize his speed and running ability more. The offensive scheme would be tweaked and opened up.

The team as a whole looked unprepared and sometimes lost on the field. The coaching staff must take responsibility for that.

Week Two versus the University of Houston. An unusually early start in very humid conditions had Zona back on its heels from the opening kickoff.

Tate had an ankle injury early in the first quarter and once again became this time, a weak one dimensional signal caller. Houston knew right off the bat that he wouldn’t be a threat running.

With that option now gone, the Cougar defense could rush and blitz at will against the Cat’s inexperienced offensive line. Once again, this team looked totally unprepared to give Houston any serious competition.

Just  like to BYU game, all of Arizona scoring came late and with second and third team players on the field for the opposition.

In today’s press conference, the same things were repeated after last week’s loss that “we need to get better.” A significant difference was Sumlin saying that back up quarterback Rhett Rodriguez could see some playing time.

With those two performances in the bag, let’s look at the “what and why” of the problem.

Objectively, Sumlin is playing with a weak Rich Rodriguez team of last year which lost four of the last five games. He needs time to get his own recruits onboard.

Subjectively, it’s still the coaching staff’s job to get whoever is playing ready for game day. This team currently looks like the 12th best team in the conference.

The Wildcat defense is still porous and tackles poorly. The secondary can’t cover anyone and is called for way too many pass interference penalties. The Cats have no sacks and no turnovers in two games. The fans and analysts all thought with Defensive Coordinator Marcel Yates having complete control it would resemble the stellar Boise State defenses under his tutelage.

The one thing that optimistic fans are saying is, “we have a lot of freshman and sophomores.” Wasn’t that the case the last two years under Rodriguez? Why do we always have an abundance of underclassmen? The freshman and sophomores of Rodriguez’s era should be juniors and seniors this year. Where are they all and why is there such a big drop off between the starters and the reserves?

The Wildcats need to make a huge statement this Saturday against Southern Utah. A win nothing short of three touchdowns will still have pundits shaking their heads.

Will Arizona win a game or two that they aren’t favored in, or could Southern Utah be the lone bright spot in a 1-11 campaign with seven home games on the schedule.

The “easy games” with Oregon State and Colorado now look like Ohio State and Alabama.

This team will improve weekly, but to what extent? Big strides are needed to become competitive.

The jury is still out on this coaching staff as it should be. The cold hard facts are that in both games, the Cats looked lost and overmatched by opponents they could have beat or at least been competitive against.

The preseason hype about a “New Era” and a serious Heisman run by Tate were dashed after the playing of the National Anthem in Week One.

This season will run its course and there will be many ups and downs for the first year Coaching Staff. The same thing is occurring at UCLA, but their talent level far surpasses that of Arizona’s.

Maybe  part of the fault lies with the fans for buying into the propaganda set forth by the University on how this would be a stellar year. Most fans thought we would win anywhere from eight to eleven games.

Like it or not, the University must prepare itself for a half empty stadium on Saturday.






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