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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pro/Con: Was 10-9 win over Cal a good win?

PRO:  A win is a win

Outside of Minka Kelly or Kate Beckinsale, nothing in this life is perfect. This is especially true in college football. Every team will have a game over the course of its season in which it just didn’t have “”it”” and struggles where it usually succeeds.

There is no perfect team — it’s impossible — but there are perfect records, and even the teams that finish the year with perfect records had games in which they struggled.

Look at Alabama last year. The Crimson Tide beat every team it played on its way to a national championship, including the Tim Tebow-led Florida Gators in the SEC Championship game.

But Alabama’s eighth game of the year at home against unranked Tennessee was anything but perfect. The Crimson Tide had to rely on a blocked field goal from defensive tackle and mountain-of-a-human Terrence Cody at the final gun to squeak by with a 12-10 win. Eerily similar to the Arizona vs. California game, is it not?

Even Iowa, the team that Arizona upset to put itself into the national conversation, won games by three points or less to inferior teams like Northern Iowa (17-16) and Arkansas State (24-21) last year on its way to an Orange Bowl victory.

Football is a tough game. No other sport demands as much from the human body than football does, and no other sport requires as much homework or preparation than football does. It is the most taxing sport in the world, both physically and mentally, and no matter how hard a team tries to avoid it, there are going to be letdowns.

The sign of a good team is winning those letdown games, and that’s exactly what Arizona did against Cal. The Wildcats struggled offensively throughout the game, but the defense picked up the slack and put Arizona in a position to win, and it did just that.

Arizona learned from this game more than it would have if it won in a blowout. The struggles of the Cal game represent the grind of the long season still ahead of them, and they showed they can handle the pressure.

Also, keep in mind that this is a game that Arizona would have lost in years past. I don’t think anyone watched the Cal game without getting the same dropping feeling in their stomach that most fans have felt time and time again while watching their beloved Wildcats.

That’s why this team is different, and why being able to squeak out an ugly win despite being a heavy favorite might be exactly what the Wildcats needed to help them fight through a season that could land the program its first ever Rose Bowl.

– Tim Kosch

CON: First 57:23 discouraging for Arizona

A win is a win, and stealing a game that shouldn’t have been won is a big step for Arizona, especially considering last season’s meltdowns.

But Saturday proved that although Arizona can compete with the top teams in the nation, it could also come out flat and unmotivated just as easily.

Cal exposed the Wildcats’ offense Saturday night, and Arizona looked nothing like the team that the nation praised after the Iowa upset.

Its offense played 57 minutes and 23 seconds of lifeless football highlighted by careless penalties, dropped passes and sloppy throws.

The Wildcats shot themselves in the foot with 10 penalties for 99 yards, a week after tallying 12 against Iowa. The team lacked “”discipline,”” in the words of Stoops, which is a “”huge concern”” moving forward.

It looked like more than just an “”off night”” for Arizona.

The Bears took away Arizona’s bread and butter — its quick passing attack that has defined this offense since Sonny Dykes first became offensive coordinator. When the Wildcats can’t move the chains via screen pass or underneath routes, the offense breaks down.

Nebraska used this formula in the Holiday Bowl on its way to a 33-0 win, and Cal clearly took note of it.

Arizona is the epitome of a rhythm team, and Cal never let them gain traction offensively. They also limited Arizona to 3.8 yards per carry on the ground, and sacked Nick Foles three times while collapsing the pocket countless times.

Foles even threw away two balls left-handed to avoid a sack, and was tagged for intentional grounding as well.

When the offense can’t get into a groove with the short passing attack, it becomes extremely predictable and average.

Yes, Arizona made the plays that it had to, and that’s all you can ask for. But who’s to say other Pacific 10 Conference defense won’t be able to knock the Wildcats off rhythm as well?

Cal isn’t even a top-5 team in the Pac-10 Conference, and Arizona had them at home. What is going to happen when the Wildcats have one of these so-called “”off nights”” against Stanford, USC, Oregon or Oregon State?

What’s going to happen when they don’t have the support of the home crowd to help overcome a flat effort?

Time will tell.

The 4-0 start is huge for Arizona, both this season and as a program. The 2010 Wildcats have turned the corner and have the best team in the last decade.

But while the Cal win was gutsy, there are a lot of issues that need to be ironed out during Arizona’s bye week.

– Mike Schmitz

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