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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Fans need to calm down over Casey Skowron

Rebecca Marie Sasnett
Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat during Arizona’s 49-45 win against Cal at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.

It’s incredibly unfair to blame the USC loss squarely on the shoulders of Casey Skowron. Kickers are often the blame for close losses like this, but how can you blame the guy who is called upon to bail out the rest of the team? Is it really his fault the rest of the team failed?

No, it most certainly is not.

Skowron has shown stability throughout the season at a position that has been largely awful over the past decade. Apart from Nick Folk, who carved out a solid NFL career between multiple teams, Skowron is the best Arizona kicker in recent history.

Coming into the USC game, Skowron was 11-13, and no one was talking badly about him, especially considering how volatile Jake Smith was last year and John Bonano was the year before. Think about this: Even after the 2-5 performance against the Trojans, Skowron is 13-18 on the season and has more field goal makes through six games than Smith had all last season (12) and just one less than Bonano the year before (14).

Not to mention he has a higher field goal percentage than both Smith and Bonano.

Instead of chastising Skowron and putting him in the same conversation as Alex Zendejas, talk about how the defense failed to stop the run for 75 percent of the game.

I know the 3-3-5 is unique in the fact that just three defensive linemen are up front, but letting one player torch you for 205 rushing yards is downright ridiculous. With all said and done, USC finished with 239 rushing yards — and that is the most the Wildcats have given up all year to one team. The previous high was 193 yards against California.

Talk about the lack of a rushing attack.

Freshman Nick Wilson did not dress for the game, and starter Terris Jones-Grigsby left the game due to injury after registering just 32 rushing yards. That left third-stringer Jared Baker as the most able running back.

While Baker scored two touchdowns and performed well, Arizona was 5-0 in large part to the two-headed beast that is Wilson and Jones-Grigsby. Playing without both put the Wildcats in a precarious position.

Not only was USC playing the pass on the majority of plays, but Arizona could not get into the normal offensive rhythm that we’re all accustomed to seeing. A large part of why the Wildcats have been so deadly came from the heavy rushing doses that set up the ensuing play action and deep balls.

Everything was set up on the ability to run the ball. Once that ability was lessened, the offensive dynamic significantly changed.It’s not unreasonable to say Skowron should have made one or two of those three field goals against USC. What is unreasonable is to say he should be demoted and to mention him in the same breath as Zendejas.

The Wildcats are still 5-1, something that no one could’ve guessed, and is the No. 16 in the nation halfway through the season with a chance to play in a marquee bowl game. This has been a remarkable season so far, with so much more to come. Give Skowron a break, because Arizona is going to need him the rest of the way.


Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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