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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

COMIC: Rat’s Nest #3
Olivia MoreyFebruary 28, 2024
 

Extra points

Final score: California 24, Arizona 16

Player of the game: Shane Vereen, Cal RB — Filling in for injured All-American Jahvid Best is no easy task, but Vereen was superb. The sophomore rushed for 159 yards on 30 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown run with 1:21 remaining in the game to put the dagger in Arizona’s heart.

Turning point of the game: The soon-to-be-infamous “”Double Pass”” by Nick Foles with a little less than 2:00 left in the fourth. On 3rd-and-three and Arizona down 18-17, Foles attempted a short pass up the middle, but it was deflected at the line right back to him. The sophomore then grabbed the ball in the air, rolled to his right, and hit wide receiver Delashaun Dean for a first down … or so they thought. The referees called an illegal forward pass, making it 4th-and-18. Arizona couldn’t convert the first down and gave Cal the ball back.

It was over when: Foles was sacked on 4th-and-15, giving Cal the chance to take a knee and end the game. Despite giving up that long touchdown-run to Vereen, Arizona still had more than a minute to get a touchdown and 2-point conversion to tie the game. Pretty tough to do when the defense gets so much pressure off of a three-man rush, though.

Offensive observations: The offense was the reason Arizona lost for the first time all season. Maybe it was because Nic Grigsby didn’t play, maybe it was because Foles struggled or maybe it was just an off day. While no one knows for sure, it presents an alarming trend. The offense has actually struggled for a couple weeks now — it turned the ball over five times and struggled to score consistently against UCLA — and the coaches said they weren’t pleased with the offense’s rhythm against Washington State. Add this into the mix and Arizona has a problem that it didn’t think it’d have this season.

Defensive observations: Despite making some big plays, the defense was relatively flat. It seemed that the unit would take plays off on first and second down, only to turn it on third down. Despite its struggles, the effort as a whole would be considered a success if Arizona’s offense played like it usually does.

Oh Bug, where art thou?: William “”Bug”” Wright has made a significant splash as a punt returner, but his performance as a wide receiver has made “”the next Mike Thomas”” claims seem pretty overblown. Wright seems unsure of himself in the offense, leading to dropped passes and tentativeness getting upfield on reverses.

Kudos to: Safety Cam Nelson for getting his first career interception. The senior has been a leader since the day he stepped on campus and is a two-year starter in the defensive backfield, but this was his first interception ever. He deserves it more than anyone; it’s just a shame that he couldn’t enjoy it after the loss. Side note: his celebration after making the catch looked like it was a long time in the making.

Still keeping an eye out for No. 1: Arizona has yet to find its go-to guy. One week it’s Terrell Turner, one week it’s Delashaun Dean, one week it’s Juron Criner, but it’s never been one guy consistently. David Roberts has emerged as Foles’ top target in a pinch, but his numbers don’t jump off the page at you. As well as the offense has played all year, the hole left by tight end Rob Gronkowski is so much bigger than people realize.

Ball me, Blazer: Forgive me for getting on the passing game here, but when will we see Foles start to consistently throw it down field? Did you see the missile he launched to Juron Criner in the third quarter? He threw it about 60 yards with ease. Let it loose, fella!

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