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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

HALFTIME: USC 28, Arizona 10

LOS ANGELES— At halftime Arizona trails USC 28-10. Bad luck combined with missed opportunities have kept the Wildcats from making up a slow start that began on the Trojans’ fifth offensive play from scrimmage.

On the first play of their second drive, USC aired it out for a 62 yard touchdown pass. Giving up the deep pass became an early theme and put Arizona in an early hole.

Late in the first quarter with UA trailing 14-0 and the Trojans’ offense driving, quarterback Cody Kessler’s 10 yard pass was tipped in the air. It was the perfect chance for the Wildcats to get a turnover, but no one was there.

USC punted soon later, but the field position had already been lost.

The Arizona defense had another chance to help out the offense early in the second quarter. With USC’s backs right up against their own end zone and facing a third and long, the Wildcats’ defense surrendered a 39-yard first down pass. Once again, another perfect opportunity to regain field position and momentum was wasted.

The struggle to slow down the Trojans’ offense and force turnovers exasperated late in the first half when Arizona piled up penalties on defense and gave up two seemingly easy touchdowns. UA quarterback BJ Denker will need to do more if the Wildcats want to close the gap in the second half.

After a disappointing performance against Washington two weeks ago, Denker showed some life in the first half of today’s game. In what could be arguably his best half of his short career, Denker established short passes and showed an improved ability to throw while escaping pressure from the defense.

The highlight of the half for Denker came on a broken play late second quarter. A 57 yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Nate Phillips gave Denker 209 passing yards on the half, a career high, and brought the Wildcats their first touchdown of the half.

That being said, Kessler overshadowed Denker’s success. The sophomore USC quarterback has thrown for 218 yards on just eight competitions, opposed to Denkers’ 16. Denkers’ inability to stretch the field throughout the half limited the offense and has kept the Wildcats at bay with just one touchdown.

The Trojans entered today’s game as one of the best defenses in the country and the No. 13 overall defense against the run. However, that hasn’t kept Carey from running hard. The 2012 All-American has fought hard for his 50 yards on 11 carries.

The hole the Wildcats put themselves in early will force Denker and Carey to work harder in the second half. They can get help from the defense if they can stay disciplined and take advantage of opportunities to gain field position.

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