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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Loss a teaching moment

Well, it happened.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that Arizona didn’t belong in the top 10, but after a humbling 29-27 loss to Oregon State it is very apparent that the Wildcats have flaws that need to be corrected if they realistically want to make the Rose Bowl or any other BCS bowl game.

While all three phases of Arizona’s game have their issues, nothing stood out more on Saturday than the ineptitude of the secondary and the signs of struggle go back to the Iowa game in week three.

For a majority of the 2009 season, opposing quarterbacks stayed away from cornerback Trevin Wade’s side at all costs, often picking on then-senior Devin Ross. Toledo and The Citadel followed suit, choosing to throw in the flats and over the middle rather than the perimeter and outer deep-thirds.

But Iowa must have seen something on film because quarterback Ricky Stanzi attacked both Wade and cornerback Robert Golden on a few occasions, beating them over the top more than we’ve seen happen before.

Oregon State took it to another level when wide receiver James Rodgers beat Wade badly on a sluggo route for a touchdown on the first drive of the game. The Beavers never looked back.

Arizona’s zones were too soft and man-coverage was too tight. OSU quarterback Ryan Katz was too accurate, Rodgers was too elusive and then when he got his knee shredded (on a play where he yet again double-moved a Wildcat defender for an easy touchdown, only to be tackled far too late by safety Adam Hall on a play that didn’t even count because of a penalty) the other Beaver receivers stepped up and had just as much success.

Now, it wasn’t entirely the defensive backfield’s fault. It turned out that Wade actually hurt his leg on the first drive of the game and was playing at about 50 percent and Katz really was incredible for Oregon State. Then there’s the whole “”the offense doesn’t wake up until the second half”” thing and trying to figure out kicker Alex Zendejas would probably be harder than filling out The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in under five minutes.

In all, you have a team that has some kinks to work out that just lost its first game of the season, and that might be a good thing considering where the team is right now.

Head coach Mike Stoops admitted after the game that his defensive scheme probably places too much pressure on its cornerbacks to make plays on their own and that he and his defensive coaches would look into giving them more safety help.

The offense is slowly getting better at running the ball and shown it can score at will in each game, it just needs to learn to play a more complete game from start to finish.

Lastly, Zendejas needs to work on being more consistent if Arizona hopes to win these close games.

The Wildcats have three weeks to work on these issues — this week at Pacific 10 Conference basement dweller Washington State and then back-to-back games against underachieving Washington and UCLA — before they play their next meaningful game against Stanford on Nov. 6, when we’ll find out if Arizona learned from this disappointing loss.

 

— Tim Kosch is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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