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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football snaps Stanford’s 14-year win streak

The Arizona football team defeated Stanford University in a narrow 21-20 victory on the road to begin Pac-12 play on Saturday, Sept. 23. Though the win was ugly and saw some notable players go down with injuries, the Wildcats left Stanford with a win.

The last time Arizona took down Stanford, the Wildcats were led by Nick Foles and the Cardinal was led by Andrew Luck. 14 years later, Luck’s entire NFL career and retirement is now in the rearview mirror, Foles is an NFL backup with a Vince Lombardi Trophy and Super Bowl MVP honors and the Wildcats finally defeated the Cardinal.

Offense

The offense struggled for the majority of this game, with a few solid drives being the difference in the win. Starting quarterback Jayden de Laura struggled mightily. He completed just 14 of 26 pass attempts for 157 yards and a touchdown while tacking on seven yards and a touchdown on the ground before exiting with an ankle injury at the end of the third quarter. 

Starting running back Michael Wiley left the game in the first quarter after posting just eight yards on two carries. However, D.J. Williams and Jonah Coleman picked up the slack and then some extra. Coleman displayed his dual-threat ability with 16 total touches. He led the team with 75 rushing yards on 12 attempts while adding another 29 yards through the air. The only thing he didn’t do was hit paydirt. Williams played the bruiser role, posting 39 yards and a crucial go-ahead touchdown on 11 carries

Despite a lackluster passing performance from their quarterback, wide receiver Jacob Cowing and tight end Tanner McLachlan also had good nights. Cowing, despite not finding the endzone, re-established himself as the primary receiving threat and led the team with 78 receiving yards on 7 catches. McLachlan caught both of his two targets for 54 yards, which included a rumbling 36-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give Arizona its first lead.

Though the passing offense was largely uninspiring, it was absent of turnovers and Cowing showed more flashes. This is another step in the right direction, and the run game was promising.

Defense

The defense was the real star of the show tonight. They bailed the offense out on numerous occasions, tightened up in the red zone and kept the Stanford quarterbacks under constant pressure.

Stanford employed an interesting dual-quarterback approach, with Ashton Daniels getting the passing snaps and Justin Lamson getting the designed runs. Though neither quarterback turned the ball over, the defense didn’t allow a single passing touchdown and Lamson didn’t score while running the ball. All three levels of the defense were operating like a well-oiled machine.

Sophomore linebacker Jacob Manu was all over the field like he has been in weeks past. He led the team with 11 tackles — five of them solo — while posting two quarterback hits, 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. Though only credited with half, he was the first to arrive on a combined sack with Tiaoalii Savea with under four minutes left in the game. This sack forced Stanford to opt for a field goal instead of a long fourth-and-17 offensive play, effectively sealing the victory for the Wildcats.

The safety tandem of Gunner Maldonado and Dalton Johnson also showed out. Maldonado posted nine tackles and all of them were unassisted. He also found his way into the backfield once for a TFL. Johnson, who didn’t see much time in 2022, showcased his versatility. He did well in the defensive backfield with five tackles — three of them unassisted — and a pass breakup. He also showed off some quick-trigger reflexes with a TFL and a sack courtesy of a designed safety blitz.

Senior defensive lineman Taylor Upshaw is living up to his billing as a high-profile transfer as well. He posted two sacks and two TFLs in the game to go along with a forced fumble that was quickly recovered again by Stanford. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Ward also posted his first sack of the season. Two players who generated a lot of buzz during Fall Camp seem to be meeting those expectations.

Looking ahead

The defense picked up the slack for the offense throughout the game, but that is not how this Arizona team envisioned games playing out. This was certainly an off week for the typically explosive Arizona offense. 

The Wildcats will need to get right — and hope for good news regarding de Laura’s injury — before next week’s matchup against an extremely talented and explosive University of Washington team led by quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and wide receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk.


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