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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football: Where do the Wildcats go from here?

Rebecca Noble

In four seasons, Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez has led the Wildcats to four consecutive bowl games.

After Arizona football fell to No. 25 Washington State 69-7, the Wildcats dropped to 2-7 on the season and fell out of bowl contention for the first time in five seasons under head coach Rich Rodriguez.

The Wildcats, still winless in the Pac-12 Conference, played another game where three quarterbacks saw playing time and the defense was overpowered by a Washington State team known for its offense. Scrap that—it was another game where the Wildcats were outplayed on every level, and it wasn’t even close.

Arizona didn’t record a sack or an interception while the Cougars had five sacks and two interceptions. Washington State quarterback Luke Falk threw 32 completions on 35 attempts, 311 yards, four touchdowns and the Cougars posted 614 yards of total offense. Falk ended the day with a 91.4 percent completion percentage, which is the highest for a quarterback with more than 35 attempts since at least 2004.

Washington State’s backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski even had 163 yards while Brandon Dawkins, Anu Solomon and Khalil Tate combined for 128 yards.

The Wildcats have lost six consecutive games this season—rock bottom in comparison to the 2011 season when athletic director Greg Byrne fired then head coach Mike Stoops for losing five games in a row.

Arizona didn’t have high expectations heading in to this season because of the losses of All-American linebacker Scooby Wright III and wide receiver Cayleb Jones. Arizona had so many questions about leadership and the defense’s identity.

First year defensive coordinator Marcel Yates tried to introduce a different defense, but there wasn’t one guy who fans knew as an impact player other than running back Nick Wilson.

Wide receiver Trey Griffey was hyped to have his breakout season as a senior and said over the summer that Arizona was capable of winning a national championship. 

The answers are written on the wall with the level of talent on this team, because the defense is ranked No. 96 in the Football Bowl Subdvision—right behind Idaho and Syracuse—while the offense is No. 72.

Arizona is out of the conversation for another bowl game—sorry Gildan New Mexico Bowl—but this could be a build up for what’s to come next season. Rodriguez has to look at the season as every game for the rest of the season is a bowl game for the Wildcats.

“For us the only thing we can do right now is mess someone else’s season” Rodriguez said. “We’re not going to quit trying.”

The Wildcats will host No. 15 Colorado next week for another Pac-12 Conference after dark matchup, and the Buffaloes present the best opportunity for the Wildcats to steal one at home against a ranked opponent. If there’s anything the Wildcats love doing, is ruining the chances of a team to finish strong through the finish line.

Looking ahead to Oregon State on Nov. 19, this could be a game where the Wildcats can create some ruckus, especially if they steal one against the Buffaloes. View the Oregon State-Arizona game as the Toilet Bowl, because the teams’ combined record is 4-14. But at least the Beavers have a conference win.

If there’s anything Arizona can hang its hat on during a dispiriting season like this one, it is the performance against ASU to close the season. Since starting off the season at 4-0, the Sun Devils dropped four out of their last five games. So if ASU can’t get it together by then, maybe, just maybe Arizona can stop it from going to a bowl game.

If neither team makes it to a bowl, but the Wildcats beat ASU in the final game of the season, then Arizona can keep some glimmer of hope in an otherwise disastrous 2016-17 season.

Tucson won’t see another mediocre bowl win come back to the Old Pueblo, but ending the regular season with a bang by winning and more importantly retrieving the Territorial Cup is a huge deal for Arizona fans, even if they already moved on to basketball season.

If that’s the case, then maybe this sour season will have a sweet ending. But all of the holes Rodriguez tried to fill failed, so the Wildcats can go 2-10 just as easy as they can go 5-7. 

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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