The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

95° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Expected loss, unexpected play

STILLWATER, Okla. — Arizona’s football team wasn’t supposed to beat Oklahoma State.

Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden are too good. Juron Criner’s absence was too detrimental. The Cowboys are too complete of a team, while the Wildcats lack the necessary experience at key positions.

Waltzing into Boone Pickens Stadium and defeating a top-10 team, let alone the team that dominated every facet of the game a year ago, is a nearly impossible feat.

But those factors shouldn’t have resulted in the product Arizona put on the field on Thursday in front of Stillwater’s sea of orange.

The Alamo Bowl Part II wasn’t supposed to be in the cards for an Arizona team with revenge on its mind. The Wildcats had all offseason to prepare for this game, and faceplanting once again didn’t seem to be an option.

But the Wildcats did exactly that.

For the second straight season, they fell behind big early and were never in the game. Their “no looking back” mantra didn’t shine through in their play and they once again came out flat against the orange and black.

Arizona’s defense made Weeden look like Tom Brady, while true sophomore Joseph Randle played the part of Adrian Peterson.

There’s no doubting that the Cowboys’ signal-caller is one of the premier arms in college football, but he shouldn’t go 28-for-32, for 240 yards and a touchdown in the first half against a secondary that’s considered a strong point of UA’s defense.

He shouldn’t complete an OSU single-game record 42 balls for 397 yards and two touchdowns against a Wildcats team that saw him two games ago. Arizona’s only sack shouldn’t have been a result of Weeden tripping over the 41-yard line.

Against a team playing in the Conference of Quarterbacks, that just can’t happen if the Wildcats want to be relevant in 2011. Arizona couldn’t hang with Weeden and Blackmon, and the Wildcats’ rush defense wasn’t much better.

While Randle is a special player, the Wildcats gave him hole after hole as he put UA defenders on skates and rushed for 124 yards and two scores on only 15 carries.

Weeden had all day to dissect an exposed Wildcats’ secondary torched yet again by Blackmon’s 12 catches for 128 yards and two scores, giving Randle Michael Strahan-sized gaps that even braces couldn’t close.

Simply put, the Wildcats made Weeden, Blackmon and Randle look untouchable, while failing to capitalize on their own drives. The red-zone woes that doomed them last season showed up again as Arizona couldn’t capitalize on 439 yards of total offense — 398 passing yards. Arizona’s running game was once again nonexistent as Keola Antolin rushed for 22 yards on 13 carries (1.7 yards per carry).

Yes, it’s early in the season. Pac-12 play still hasn’t begun and the Wildcats were playing without their best player in Criner. Yes, Arizona is missing three defensive starters — Jonathan McKnight, Adam Hall and Jake Fischer — and developing an entirely new offensive line.

But Criner shouldn’t be the difference between a competitive game and yet another laugher. While Oklahoma State is a legitimate contender, the Wildcats should have learned from last season’s debacle and prevented it this time around.

But Arizona re-lived last year’s nightmare.

Albeit in a different stadium, with different stakes and different personnel, the Wildcats failed to rise to the occasion and for the second straight year never stood a chance against a superior Cowboys team.

They surely weren’t supposed to win, but they weren’t supposed to go missing in action either.

_— Mike Schmitz is a marketing senior and can be reached at
sports@wildcat.arizona.edu._

More to Discover
Activate Search