Roundtable: What has been the worst part about the Wildcats’ historic losing streak?


Heather Newberry

Arizona fans tensely watch the UA-ASU territorial cup game just before Arizona State scored a touchdown.

Ari Koslow, Jacob Mennuti, and Ryan Wohl

In case you haven’t noticed, the Arizona Wildcats have not won a game in a very, very long time — October of 2019 to be exact. Last Saturday’s loss to the UCLA Bruins marked its 10th loss in a row, joining Kansas (12), New Mexico (13) and Akron (19) for most current, consecutive losses by an FBS team.

There are a ton of reasons why this team hasn’t performed as well as it should. Here’s what our sports desk believes has been the worst part about this historic losing streak.

Jacob Mennuti (@jacob_mennuti)

Where do I even start? There are so many things wrong with this team right now. I have two huge complaints about how this program has been developing over the last few seasons, particularly during this losing streak. My biggest issue is that not only has Arizona been losing a ton of games in a row, they haven’t even been competitive.

Nine of the 10 losses have been by double digits and have had zero success playing away from home during the Kevin Sumlin era — going 2-11 in those road games — and are 3-13 against FBS opponents in the last 16 games. It’s one thing to be losing games in heartbreaking fashion, and it’s another to continuously be blown out by the other opponents week in and week out.

My other issue is that the locker room culture and the brand of this football program do not seem to be improving either. We saw a ton of players opt out the season following the loss to UCLA which tells me that the players are upset, which they obviously have every right to be.

We, of course, don’t exactly know what is going on in the locker room so it would be ignorant to say that there’s a toxic environment within the team, but several players walking out the door in the middle of the season certainly doesn’t paint a very good picture.

Branding is everything for a college football program. It’s what you sell to recruits when you make that pitch to come to your school. Arizona football has no brand and has nothing to sell to its recruits other than playing time in a Power Five conference. This team is in really bad shape and it’s a shame to see the program spiraling into the ground like this.

Ari Koslow (@koslow_ari)

It has been a rough stretch of time for the Wildcats on the football field. One of the worst stretches in program history, in fact. There have been a number of issues that all relate to the struggles of the recent Arizona football teams, but two struggles that have stood out the most have been the struggles on both the offensive line and defensive line.

RELATED: Strong offensive line the key to snapping losing streak this Saturday

We saw it first-hand this past week when Grant Gunnell got hit immediately on the first play of the game, landing on his shoulder, causing him to miss the rest of the game and potentially more time as well. This put freshman Will Plummer in the spotlight, who was also running for his life most of the game against UCLA. Plummer’s mobility allowed him to escape the push rush more often than not, but Gunnell and Plummer seeing immediate pressure has been a common theme so far this season as Arizona is currently tied with Cal for the most sacks (11) allowed in just three games so far this season.

On the other side of the ball, the lack of pressure being put on opposing quarterbacks has also been a common theme. The Wildcats are currently dead last in sacks with just one on the season. They are also the only team yet to record an interception or any sort of turnover this season. The lack of pressure on the opposing quarterback plays hand in hand with the lack of turnovers as the more pressure you put on opposing quarterbacks, the more likely they are to make an unnecessary throw that can potentially lead to a turnover.

The bottom line is that it’s never good to be dead last in both sacks allowed to your quarterback and sacks on opposing quarterbacks. The game starts in the trenches, so the struggles on both lines need to take a step forward if Arizona is going to be any more competitive in games.

There is a lot of firepower on the offensive side of the ball, and we’ve seen flashes from them, but they can only do so much when the quarterback is seeing pressure immediately every other play. It starts with the lines on both sides of the ball to create a winning environment.

Ryan Wohl (@ryan__wohl)

For all of the Wildcats’ players and fans, this has been a difficult last 14 months as they have not won a football game since Oct. 5, 2019, and there has been one common factor over that time span.

To me, that common factor for this whole losing streak is head coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin has only won nine games throughout his first three seasons in Tucson so far, which is flat out embarrassing. When he came to coach the Wildcats, I never believed he was as good of a coach as everyone said he was in the past at Texas A&M and Houston. The simple answer to the big question is false hope. That is the only thing he has provided since arriving on campus. He has not recruited at a high level (one four-star player), is a horrible game day coach and multiple players have left the program.

Along with all of this false hope, it leads the community and players in the locker room struggling to see light at the end of the tunnel. Multiple key players have either opted out of the season or transferred to another college program and for an already struggling group, that does not provide the current players any more motivation to win games.

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