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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

A new low

After Arizona’s 37-10 loss to No. 6 Stanford, Wildcat players tossed wristbands and the like to kids in the stands, stopped for a quick picture and gave an obligatory high-five or two.

But after Saturday’s 56-31 beatdown at the hands of the Ducks, there was none of that.

Safety Rob Golden stormed to Arizona’s locker room, ignoring the calls of dozens of Arizona fans. Always-approachable quarterback Nick Foles did the same, in obvious pain after being sacked five times in each of Arizona’s last two games.

It’s not hard to blame them for being ticked off. They’d just been blown out for the third time in three weeks, and this time it was kick-started by perhaps the worst half that’s ever been played at Arizona Stadium.

Arizona was unprepared to play against anyone at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, let alone a top-10 team with perhaps the nation’s most explosive offense.

The Wildcats started the night by drawing 15-yard penalty for a horse collar tackle on Oregon’s first offensive play of the night, then tried to match it by getting flagged for a false start on their opening offensive play.

After that, it was more of the same.

Arizona proceeded to get flagged for two illegal formations, one illegal motion, two more personal fouls and one illegal block — all culminating in what head coach Mike Stoops called the worst half of his tenure at the UA.

“The first half was very frustrating and humiliating in some ways,” Stoops said. “I don’t have any real answers. We were just unprepared to play.”

Receivers dropped passes, including Juron Criner dropping a surefire touchdown. Linemen missed blocks. Defenders missed tackles. Even Foles wasn’t as sharp as usual, missing a pair of wide-open receivers deep down the sideline.

Arizona gave up 288 rushing yards to LaMichael James, a career-high and school record. In fact, the last three running backs to see Arizona’s porous defense have set career-highs — Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle ran for 121 yards and Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor for 153.

It’s one thing to lose to Oregon. You can even look past the 56 points Arizona gave up. Lighting up scoreboards is what Oregon does, and it’s pretty obvious that the Wildcat defense isn’t a good one. Maybe not even an average one.

But to do it in the way that Arizona did, making mental mistake after mental mistake and appearing to take a step back?
That can’t happen.

After the losses to Oklahoma State and Stanford, the silver lining was that the Wildcats would be able to learn from it and get better. They saw how a top-10 team handles itself on the field. Arizona learned how big of a difference one little mistake could be on either side of the ball.

At least that’s how things were supposed to go.

Instead, it was business as usual for Arizona football, a team that sputtered to eight straight losses against FBS teams.

“Some of these guys weren’t here five years ago when we were pretty shitty,” Stoops said. “It’s about attitude and growing up. That’s what we need to do.”

— Alex Williams is the assistant sports editor. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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