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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


State of Arizona football following opening weekend loss to BYU

Rebecca Noble
Arizona linebacker DeAndre’ Miller (32) sends BYU offense for a tumble during Arizona’s 18-16 loss to BYU in the Cactus Kickoff Classic at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez doesn’t attribute the loss to Anu Solomon. Despite the starting quarterback’s erratic play against BYU, Rodriguez feels it was not what lost the Wildcats’ the game.

“We did not lose the game because of Anu Solomon,” Rodriguez said. “We lost because we did not play or coach well.”

The head coach does have a point, but that being said, one or two more plays by Solomon and Arizona would’ve possibly won its season opener. If he didn’t take that 16-yard sack to take the Wildcats out of field goal range in the first half, BYU would’ve needed a touchdown instead late in the fourth quarter. If he had hit one of his hot reads instead of taking a sack, maybe Arizona would have scored more than three points before the fourth quarter. Solomon’s receivers were getting open, they just needed him to trust them.

Coach Rodriguez said the Wildcats wanted to get backup Brandon Dawkins in the game a few separate occasions, but the situation did not call for it.

“There were times where I was close to putting him in the game Saturday just to get him a couple of series,” Rodriguez said. “But Dawkins never saw the field due to the lack of productivity from the offense.

It remains to be seen if Dawkins will earn a starting role soon, although Rodriguez said that Dawkins will play this week against Grambling State. In what capacity, who knows?

Defense has room to improve

Nine times out of 10, Arizona will win games when it holds opponents to just 18 points. The Wildcats did not pressure opposing quarterback Taysom Hill or cause turnovers, but they still played solid considering the circumstances.

They were on the field a staggering 37 minutes against BYU.

“Our goal each week is to give up zero points, period,” said cornerback Dane Cruikshank. “I felt like we did a great job for a lot of us players being our first times actually touching the field.”

While it is unlikely they shut out multiple opponents, it is good for the younger players to gain experience and adjust to the game for the future. Once they are fully aware of the intricacies of the system, the turnovers and sacks will come as well.

Wildcats not sweating o-line

Just like on defense, the offensive line had a few new faces starting against BYU. So they should be more improved moving forward.

Rodriguez said that after watching the film, the things they need to fix pertaining to the o-line are fixable. So we should expect a cleaner pocket for Solomon moving forward.

“I think there is a lot of little things we need to fix. If we can do that, I think we will be a lot better next week” said right guard Jacob Alsadek. “It is not big things, it is little things and they all added up.”

While last week’s loss was painful for the Wildcats, Arizona is committed to righting those wrongs and ironing out the issues in a hurry. Fans will see very soon how well they carry out these promises.

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.

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