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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

More holes, more problems for Arizona football

They have no balance offensively.

They can’t defend the pass or the run.

They can’t pressure the quarterback.

They can’t protect their own quarterback.

They can’t make field goals to finish drives.

Am I missing anything?

The 2011 Wildcats have more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, and the team that’s been aspiring to reach elite-status for three years is still mired in mediocrity.

Although they put up a fight for 30 minutes, Stanford beat the Wildcats to a pulp on Saturday, exploiting Arizona in every phase of the game for a final outcome of a 37-10 walloping.

That’s what great teams do, and the Wildcats quickly found out why they’re not compared to the elite schools of college football, like Stanford and Oklahoma State.

With back-to-back chances to make a national statement on ESPN, Arizona has been outscored 74-24 while giving up 1,161 total yards in its last two games. The once-explosive Wildcats have scored a combined 24 points, going scoreless in two of the four halves.

Although running back Keola Antolin rushed for 67 yards on nine carries, the Arizona ground attack was once again non-existent, gaining 51 yards on 23 carries.

Over the last two games, Arizona’s inexperienced offensive line has given the UA backs zero room to operate, resulting in 92 rushing yards on 44 carries, good for 2.1 yards per carry average.

“Our inability to have some balance in our offense will continue to keep us from becoming a good football team,” said head coach Mike Stoops.

And then there’s the pass protection. When Foles had time to throw against the Cardinal, he was lights out. There’s a reason he completed his first 17 passes for 183 yards and a score.

But when “they started bringing different blitzes from different areas,” as Foles explained, the young offensive line couldn’t adjust and its quarterback got slaughtered.

He was sacked five times for 40 yards, and had defenders in his face on virtually every play in a second half where he went 6-of-12 for only 41 yards.

Stoops was brash when he said, “we’re not scoring enough points,” and that isn’t going to change without a running game and an offensive line that can’t protect the quarterback.

And then there’s the defense. Arizona put together a solid first half defensively, limiting Stanford to 16 points and holding them to three field goals.

But the wheels came off in the second half. Stepfan Taylor ran all over the Wildcats as Stanford rushed for 242 yards, setting up the play action where Andrew Luck picked apart a broken and confused UA defense for 325 yards.

The Wildcats’ youth is an excuse that’s no longer pertinent after two games.

“We can’t use that as an excuse. That’s out of the question. Everybody’s got to step up and just be a man,” said senior cornerback Trevin Wade. “That excuse is, man, it’s over with now. There’s nothing you can do about it. They’ve got to step up.”

Arizona’s defensive line is an absolute mess. The Wildcats have only one sack in the last two games and it came as a product of Brandon Weeden tripping over his own feet. Defensive ends Mohammed Usman and CJ Parish haven’t gotten any pressure, and Arizona even tried defensive tackle Justin Washington at defensive end, but to no avail.

And finally, there’s the kicking game. Kicker Jaime Salazar missed two huge field goals — a 45-yarder at the end of the first half and a 36-yarder on the opening drive of the second half.

Aside from Foles, Arizona’s receivers, a linebacker or two and the cornerbacks, no one is playing well for the Wildcats. They have holes in all three phases of the game, and when kickoff specialist John Bonano and punter Kyle Dugandzic are the most valuable players through three games, something’s wrong.

Sure, Stanford and Oklahoma State are two of the best teams in the country. Top teams are supposed to expose weaknesses.

Foles said Arizona “can’t freak out about this. It’s early in the season.”

Stoops added: “We’ve got to grow from tonight.”

But with the Wildcats team facing major weaknesses on every side of the ball, and the Pac-12 schedule not getting any easier with Oregon coming to Arizona Stadium next weekend, Arizona needs to grow up sooner rather than later.

—Mike Schmitz is a marketing senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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