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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Arizona football at the fork in the road

Courtesy of Sam Girvin/The Stanford DailyStanford quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) runs the ball against Arizona during the Wildcats loss Saturday, Oct. 3. The Wildcats are at a crosspaths in their season and must make adjustments.
Sam Girvin

Courtesy of Sam Girvin/The Stanford Daily

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) runs the ball against Arizona during the Wildcats’ loss Saturday, Oct. 3. The Wildcats are at a crosspaths in their season and must make adjustments.

Just when everyone thought the football season couldn’t get any worse than last Saturday’s blowout loss to UCLA, Arizona found a way to top its poor performance in the Bay Area. After the Wildcats dropped another conference game to Stanford 55-17, the season is up in the air and doesn’t look promising for Rich Rodriguez’s squad. 

The last time Arizona started the season 0-2 in Pac-12 Conference play was in 2013. The only difference between that season and the first two conference matchups this year was the fact that Ka’Deem Carey, arguably Arizona’s greatest offensive weapon of all-time, was carrying the load. This season’s squad also revolves around its running back, Nick Wilson.

Remember the talk about how Arizona had the deepest receiving core in the Pac-12? Among the rest of the conference, Arizona is ranked No. 9 for passing offense and No. 1 for rushing. It’s safe to say Arizona’s rushing attack is the only hope for the Wildcats this season. 

With Arizona constantly running the ball, teams have a much easier week of practice because all the defense has to do is prepare to stop the run. That’s exactly what UCLA threw at Arizona, and Stanford showcased the same adjustments. 

If it’s the Wildcats’ run game that causes issues for defenses, all teams have to accomplish is stacking between seven or nine in the box to take away Arizona’s strongest weapon. Stanford’s adjustments were more of a slap in the face for Rodriguez—the Cardinal’s Tucson-born linebacker, Blake Martinez, recorded a game-high 13 tackles. 

Rodriguez can’t help the lack of production by Arizona’s pass game right now, especially with Trey Griffey and Tyrell Johnson out with foot injuries, Cayleb Jones with a minor ankle injury and Samajie Grant with a mild knee injury. It also didn’t help that quarterback Anu Solomon didn’t even make the trip to Arizona’s first road test of the season. 

The Wildcats have a plethora of injuries on the offensive side of the ball, and with Arizona lacking a win in the conference moving forward, it’s difficult to regain any confidence the team had the week they headed into UCLA. 

A win at Stanford would have helped, especially with the Wildcats hosting another conference winless team in Oregon State this week. Colorado, Washington State and Washington are manageable matchups in the upcoming weeks, but the Wildcats are back to square one. 

The quarterback situation is sticky because of Jerrard Randall’s limited ability. Brandon Dawkins is still adjusting to the feel of playing in a big-time conference matchup. The Wildcats desperately need Solomon healed from his concussion and healthy to move forward. 

Looking ahead, Arizona needs at least two wins before finishing the year with USC, Utah at home and ASU up north.
If the offense has to continue relying on the run game, then 7-5 might be modest for the wounded Wildcats.


Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.


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