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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Four stats that defined Arizona football’s loss to UCLA

Wildcats+cheer+on+Shawn+Poindexter+%2819%29+for+score+a+touchdown+during+the+third+quarter+of+the+Arizona-UCLA+game+at+Spieker+Field+on+Oct.+20%2C+2018+at+the+Rose+Bowl+in+Pasadena%2C+CA.+The+game+ended+with+the+Wildcats+losing+31-30
Amy Bailey

Wildcats cheer on Shawn Poindexter (19) for score a touchdown during the third quarter of the Arizona-UCLA game at Spieker Field on Oct. 20, 2018 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. The game ended with the Wildcats losing 31-30

LOS ANGELES – Arizona football fell to UCLA with a nail-biter 31-30 under the lights in the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Here are the four stats that outlined the Wildcats’ loss that drops the record to 3-5 on the season, and 2-3 in conference.

55-yard run

One of the most bizarre plays you will see during this football season came at one of the most pivotal points of not only the game but the season for Arizona as J.J. Taylor was stripped just yards before crossing the goal line, leaving the ball to be picked up by the Bruins, and the game with it. 

Arizona's J.J. Taylor (21) gets the ball knocked out of his hands during the second quarter of the Arizona-UCLA game at Spieker Field at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
Arizona’s J.J. Taylor (21) gets the ball knocked out of his hands during the second quarter of the Arizona-UCLA game at Spieker Field at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.

The score would have cut the lead to 10-7, while also giving a dose of adrenaline to a struggling offense that was stumbling over its feet for the entire first half. Yet it further reinforced the offensive insecurities, leaving the coaching staff to pick up the pieces during halftime. Taylor finished the game with 154 yards and a score but left an entire six-point play on the table. After the Colin Schooler fumble-touchdown, karma was not on Arizona’s side, but to have it happen a couple feet from the goal line makes it that much more painful.

9 first-half tackles for loss

A defense that has had trouble disrupting the lines of scrimmage, and whatever else happens behind them, for the first four weeks of the season bucked this trend Saturday night as the Wildcats decided to move in and start paying rent due for the amount of time they were spending in and around UCLA’s pocket.

Arizona's Scottie Young Jr. (19) tackles UCLA player in the first quarter of the Arizona-UCLA game at Spieker Field on Oct. 20, 2018 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
Arizona’s Scottie Young Jr. (19) tackles UCLA player in the first quarter of the Arizona-UCLA game at Spieker Field on Oct. 20, 2018 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.

This constant pressure allowed Arizona’s offense the unusual luxury of being able to work out some serious kinks over multiple drives without playing the Wildcats completely out of the game. Even though the adjustments came just a little too late, the signs of encouragement for defensive coordinator Marcel Yates’ unit was clear, and it will be interesting to see it go up against Oregon in Tucson next weekend, a team who boasts one of the biggest offensive lines in the country.

3.3 yards per rush

Jonathan Stewart, LaMichael James, Legarrette Blount, Kenjon Barner: Chip Kelly running backs that changed the way college football runs and paces their offense. Chip Kelly didn’t have anyone near that type of quality on his sideline, and the stats prove that to be true, as the Bruins failed to get anything going on the ground all game. 

Arizona defensive player attempts to tackle UCLA's runner during the Arizona-UCLA game at Spieker Field on Oct. 20, 2018 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
Arizona defensive player attempts to tackle UCLA’s runner during the Arizona-UCLA game at Spieker Field on Oct. 20, 2018 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.

They failed so much so that Kelly opted for Michigan transfer Wilton Speight over starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the second half in order for the Bruins to be able to take advantage of the two freshman corners that Arizona was rotating throughout the night, opting to a more pass-heavy offense due to the Wildcats’ ability to control the line of scrimmage on defense.

275 rush yards

Due to the absence of Khalil Tate, Arizona and its offense have been slightly limited in the passing game. Yet the Wildcats, who have led the Pac-12 in rushing the last two years, rode their two horses in running backs J.J. Taylor and Gary Brightwell all the way to the brink of victory. Combining for 275 rushing yards, as both runners eclipsed the century mark, the two Wildcats both averaged exactly 8.1 yards per carry, gashing the Bruins defense all night. 

Running Back JJ Taylor (21) dodges tackles from the UCLA defense during the game Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Rose Bowl. The final score was 31-30 UCLA. 
Running Back JJ Taylor (21) dodges tackles from the UCLA defense during the game Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Rose Bowl. The final score was 31-30 UCLA. 

If Arizona wants to win any of its upcoming games on the schedule, then the running game has to be the focal point of the offense. Asking Rhett Rodriguez to win the game with his arm is not fair to the sophomore quarterback, but asking him to pick apart a defense that is keyed on the run and biting on play actions is a plan that will bring out the best in not only Rhett Rod but the two stallions that Arizona has in its backfield.


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