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The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona at California: Live game blog

We’re live from Berkeley, Calif. for Arizona’s crucial Pacific-10 Conference game. Arizona’s road to the Rose Bowl starts tonight, and we’ll bring you updates throughout the day. Be sure to leave any questions, comments or observations of your own in the ‘comments’ section at the bottom of this page.

 

1:21 p.m. – Touring the campus, just walked around The Greek Theatre. Nothing like seeing a historical musical landmark right next to a football stadium.

 

1:33 p.m. – Just walked through the “”Fun Zone.”” Shirts are a cool $6 and jerseys and sweatshirts were both under $40. That’s a deal and a half if you ask me.

 

1:40 p.m. – Cal just rolled up in its buses and walked throw a long line of fans to get into the stadium. Arizona should do that – it got the team and crowd pretty pumped.

 

1:46 p.m. – Walking on the field right now, staring up at empty bleachers. What a scene – the field is below the ground and the top of the stands are at ground level, making it a bowl. Trees surround the stadium to give it a cool, relaxed feel. Can definitely see why this is a desirable place for recruits to come play.

 

1:50 p.m. – Just heard the head of security tell some police officers, “”You can not talk negatively to students, it just can’t happen.”” Cal undergrads get to live it up apparently.

 

1:52 p.m. – Behind the home sideline there’s a big hill that’s covered with trees, but there’s an area where they cleared some space and dubbed it “”The Cheap Seats.”” People can go camp out and watch the game without any interference.

 

2:09 p.m. – Senior Day here at the stadium, you can see the parents of the senior players getting emotional. Question for you – although RB Jahvid Best is just a junior, will this also be his last game on the sideline as a member of the home team? The uber-talented speedster is likely out for the season after suffering concussions in back-to-back weeks, and I wonder if the temptation of NFL dollars will be too much for him to turn down.

 

3:22 p.m. – Enjoy the weather back in Tucson, Wildcat fans. Temperatures here will be in the low-50s all night. Will that hinder the Wildcats? Time will tell.

Any predictions for the game? Who will play well, who won’t? Score prediction? Let us know.

 

3:28 p.m. – Shocking developments in the Pac-10 today, including Stanford pounding USC. There’s still some time left in the fourth quarter, but USC quarterback Matt Barkley just thre another interception with his team trailing the Cardinal 48-21. Toby Gerhart for Heisman? Probably not, but he should be. Also, welcome to fame Andrew Luck – the freshman signal-caller for Stanford has been playing lights out of late and will be a star under head coach Jim Harbaugh for years to come. (And, for now at least, people can stop comparing Barkey to him).

 

3:32 p.m. – Uniform check: California is wearing its home navy blue pants, jersey, and helmet with yellow numbers, names and logos. Arizona is sporting plain red pants, white jerseys with blue numbers and names, and blue helmets.

 

3:36 p.m. – Last non-UA/Cal note of the day: Stanford is now up 55-21 over USC. Here’s my question: when will we start hearing the whispers about Notre Dame wanting to replace Charlie Weis with Jim Harbaugh? He would be a perfect fit.

 

3:39 p.m. – Preliminary injury update: DE Brooks Reed and RBs Nic Grigsby and Greg Nwoko were all dressed and warming up. Reed is expected to start, although nothing is official. Grigsby and Nwoko’s involvement as of now is TBD.

 

4:00 p.m. – Captains Cam Nelson, Earl Mitchell, Colin Baxter, and Terrell Turner meet at midfield for the coin toss. Arizona calls tails. California won the toss and elected to receive.

We’re minutes from kickoff, don’t forget to leave your comments, questions, observations, and predictions down below.

 

4:10 p.m. – UA came out a little flat on defense, surrendering two first downs without generating any kind of pressure. The defense snapped into it toward the end of the drive, getting a sack from OLB Xavier Kelly. Cal capped off its drive with a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.

Notes: Brooks Reed is back in the starting lineup. He regstered a tackle on the second game of the drive, displaying impressiver lateral quickness on his way to closing the gap to his left… It might be a little chilly, sure, but there is nobody here right now. I’d guess that the stadium is 60% full.

Let’s see how UA responds on offense.

 

4:18 p.m. – Mediocre drive for Arizona. The Wildcats picked up a few first downs but couldn’t turn it into points. I’d like to see QB Nick Foles take some shots down the field next drive – nothing takes the heart out of the home team like a big passing play.

Notes: Keola Antolin took every snap at running back. Nic Grigsby is on the sideline in pads but isn’t holding or wearing his helment. I think the coaches are going to keep him on the shelf unless he is absolutely needed.

 

4:28 p.m. – UA defense is bending but not breaking. Cause for concern: the Wildcats’ zone defense is looking mighty soft so far. Cal QB Kevin Riley is easily finding the soft spots in the middle of the field.

 

4:33 p.m. – Cal leads 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. A few things…

Did you see the play the RB Shane Vereen made? It was a halfback pass, and it looked like Ricky Elmore had him in his grasp in the backfield. Instead Vereen powered to his left and turned a sure loss of at least 10 yards to a plus-9.

Arizona hasn’t had a chance to get into a rhythm on offense. Cal just kicked a field goal to take a 6-0 lead, but Arizona can erase being outplayed for the last 15 minutes by scoring a touchdown on this drive.

 

5:03 p.m. – Keola Antolin punches in a short TD run to cap off a 94-yard scoring drive. The touchdown gives Arizona a 7-6 lead with 3:27 remaining in the half.

Good things happen when you pass. For most of the first half Arizona relied too heavily on running the ball, and Cal caught on quickly by stacking the box and keeping Antolin in check. But then a deep curl to Terrell Turner and a few more passing plays opened up Cal’s defense and let Antolin rip off a 34-yard run to put UA in scoring position.

When Arizona is balanced on offense, it’s tough to stop.

 

5:25 p.m. – HALFTIME: Arizona 10, California 9

The Wildcats came out pretty flat in the first quarter and took a while to get into any kind of flow. The eventually found their footing in the second quarter to take the lead despite California being able to hold onto the ball for most of the first half.

Offensive observations: Part of Arizona looking lethargic was because of the play calling. The offense ran for most of the first quarter and didn’t pass until it had to, making it difficult to complete any big passes. Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes opened it up in the second quarter, allowing Arizona to easily move the ball as well as re-opening the rushing attack.

Defensive observations: The secondary is getting picked on, but as a whole the defense has held its own. Cal QB Kevin Riley has been favoring Arizona CB Devin Ross’ side, and WR Marvin Jones has had a big day, gaining 65 yards on five catches. What Arizona has done well, though, is get pressure on the quarterback. The WIldcats have ended a lot of Cal drives by getting a sack or forcing Riley to throw the ball away. Pressure from the front seven always makes it easier for the secondary.

Offensive Player of the Half: QB Nick Foles – 14-of-20 for 112 yards. There were enough holes in the secondary for Arizona to be confident enough to make some adjustments at the break, so expect Foles to take control in the second half by going downfield more often.

Defensive Player of the Half: MLB Vuna Tuihalamaka. The senior flies around and plays with more spirit than anyone on the field. The defense will go as far as he takes them.

 

5:57 p.m. – Arizona is certainly making the move to throw more, but it isn’t working. Foles has missed two receivers that were relatively open on fade routes, and tried to squeeze a dig route to David Roberts, but it was tipped and intercepted. At a certain point Foles needs to take the offense under his wing and drive it down for a TD.

Defensively, the Wildcats continue to bend but not break. Riley found another soft spot in the zone over Vuna Tuihalamaka’s head for a first down, but on the next play he underthrew a wide open receiver in the endzone. The pass was intercepted by safety Cam Nelson, the first of his career. Arizona ball at its own two-yard line.

 

6:03 p.m. – Devin Ross is having a tough day. Kevin Riley just went deep on a fade route on first down, completing it for a 27-yard touchdown to Skylar Curran. Ross never turned around on the play, allowing Curran to make an easy catch. The refs then called pass interference on Ross, adding insult to injury.

This is very dangerous territory for Arizona. Foles has struggled this half and seems to be succumbing to the pressure. Down 15-10 with 8:21 left in the third, Arizona needs to score here or else Cal – with momentum in hand – can put the game away.

 

6:09 p.m. – You can feel it slipping away. Arizona is playing like a nervous visiting football team, and unless there’s an attitude change it could be bad news for the Wildcats.

What do you guys think, can Arizona turn it around?

 

6:20 p.m. – Terrible throw in the red zone by Riley results in an interception by safety Joe Perkins. That could be a game-saving play.

Matt Scott in at QB. I think this is more of Sonny Dykes going for a different, more athletic look to change the pace rather than Foles being benched. We’ll find out soon enough.

 

6:23 p.m. – Cal 15, Arizona 10 at the end of the third.

Arizona’s defense has been shaky at times but has made the plays when it needed to. It comes down to this: Arizona will win if they can get moving on offense. We’ll see the unit can do in the fourth quarter.

What do you think, will the ‘Cats pull it out? If they do it will be with Nick Foles back under center for the start of the fourth.

Rose Bowl hopes on the line, let’s see how Arizona responds.

 

6:32 p.m. – Nick Foles hits TE A.J. Simmons for a touchdown to put UA up 16-15. The touchdown pass, Foles’ first of the night, capped an 80-yard drive that was enhanced by two pass-interference calls against Cal.

That’s a huge drive for Arizona, and it came right after a key interception by Perkins. Arizona is making plays with the game on the line, which is exactly what it needs to do.

 

6:43 p.m. – We’re heading down to the field for the last few plays then to do some intverviews. UA is ahead for now, but Cal is threatening inside Arizona’s first team. Should be a very interesting last few minutes.

If Arizona wins, it pulled out a win when it didn’t deserve it which is something winning teams need to do. If it loses, well, you know what happens.

Leave your reactions below, and check dailywildcat.com for reactions from us following the game.

 

8:31 p.m. – Arizona drops another devastating road game, this time by a score of 24-16. Check dailywildcat.com throughout the night and on Monday for reaction and analysis, and as always leave your own reactions and analysis in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

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