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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

What we learned from Toledo

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Larry Hogan/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly named Kevin Smith as one of the two quarterbacks with a higher single-game yardage total than Matt Scott. His name is Keith Smith and the article has been corrected.

Arizona is only one game into the Rich Rodriguez era, but after Saturday’s game against Toledo, we already learned quite a bit.

There’s life after Foles

Quarterback Matt Scott wasn’t up against Alabama’s defense Saturday night, but the senior’s first start since 2010 showed that the transition away from the recently graduated Nick Foles won’t be all that rocky.

In fact, Scott already topped Foles in the record book.

Scott’s 461 total yards ranks third in Arizona history for single-game yardage, behind Willie Tuitama (517 yards against Washington in 2007) and Keith Smith (502 yards versus Cal in 1996).

That means Foles, and his career-best 448 yards in a loss to No. 1 Oregon in 2010, moves him down to fourth on the list.

Sometimes, it’s hard to break old habits

Arizona was one of the top teams through the air last season — and one of the worst on the ground.

The Wildcats threw it nearly 60 percent of the time on standard downs, according to Football Outsiders, which was almost the exact opposite ratio of the national trend.

With head coach Rich Rodriguez and the spread-option offense in town, a natural shift in philosophy seemed all but certain.

The Wildcats’ 24-17 overtime victory against Toledo was anything but different, though: they threw the ball 47 times Saturday compared to just 41 rushes, and the passing game was more effective too — 387 yards passing in the air compared to 237 yards on the ground.

Arizona gained more yards only once last season, 254 yards in a crushing 48-12 win against UCLA, and Ka’Deem Carey’s 73-yard touchdown broke his personal best (33) yards and more than doubled the longest run (34 yards) from last season.

With the defense, it’s complicated

The Wildcats’ defense didn’t look spectacular, but it got the job done.

Arizona allowed just 358 yards and 17 points to Toledo in an overtime game against an offense that averaged 42.2 points and 481 yards per game last season.

Safety Jared Tevis, in his first career start, and linebacker Jake Fischer, were all over the field Saturday and stood out for Arizona defensively.

But both Fischer and Tevis played every single snap on defense, and several other players got close. That’s not a good sign for the Wildcats’ depth, and it’s not advised against an Oklahoma State team that scored 84 points last weekend.

Specials teams aren’t so special

The kicking game has been the Achilles heel for Arizona the past two years, and senior John Bonano didn’t exactly alleviate the pain.

Bonano went 1-for-3 on the night and missed two chip shots, including a potential game-winner from 25-yards out as time wound down in the fourth quarter.

Returner Richard Morrison was equally bad. The junior didn’t have his best performance in general, but his muffed punt return in the fourth quarter almost proved disastrous for Arizona. Morrison was able to save face, though, as the Wildcats pounced on the loose ball.

There were a few bright spots for the special teams against the Rockets. Senior Kyle Dugandzic averaged 43.5 yards on his four punts and Scott hit his pooch kick 54 yards, making Scott a star on special teams as well. Rodriguez pulled out some trickery in the third quarter, catching Toledo off-guard with an onsides kick recovered by Bonano.

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