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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

Arizona WBB looks to rebound at home against UC San Diego
Jason Dayee, Assistant Sports Editor • December 7, 2023
 

Column: Who are these Arizona Wildcats?

UCLA+redshirt+junior+linebacker+Aaron+Wallace+%2851%29+sacks+Arizona+redshirt+freshman+quarterback+Anu+Solomon+%2812%29%26%23160%3Bduring+the+third+quarter+of%26%23160%3BArizonas+17-7+loss+against+UCLA+at+The+Rose+Bowl+in+Pasadena%2C+Calif.
Rebecca Marie Sasnett

UCLA redshirt junior linebacker Aaron Wallace (51) sacks Arizona redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon (12) during the third quarter of Arizona’s 17-7 loss against UCLA at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

PASADENA, Calif. — UCLA came out in weird, new uniforms, but it was the Arizona football team that was not recognizable.

The No. 14 Wildcats (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12 Conference) did not look like the team that opened the season 5-0 and 6-1 in its 17-7 loss at UCLA.

Arizona averaged 40.6 points a game going into the match-up with the Bruins, but struggled to put up the seven it scored Saturday night.


If you missed the game, we have recaps:

FINAL: UCLA defeats Arizona 17-7

UCLA defeats Arizona 17-7 behind Hundley’s 320 all-purpose yards


“Well, the offense was poor, it was poorly called, poorly executed and poorly played,” UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “You can start with the coaching staff.”

The Wildcats only scored on their first drive, a 14-yard pass to redshirt sophomore receiver Cayleb Jones. However, that drive only continued due to 30 yards’ worth of penalties by the gray-clad UCLA sophomore linebacker/running back Myles Jack.

Had Jack not committed a personal foul and vicious face mask that ripped redshirt senior running back Terris Jones-Grigsby’s helmet clean off, the Wildcats would not even have picked up that solo score.

Still, after punting 10 times, the Wildcats were in the game but let No. 25 UCLA (7-2, 4-2) escape with the win. Arizona had not punted more than six times in a game this season.

On a positive note, Arizona’s defense, which was giving up 28.3 points per game going into the UCLA contest, only surrendered 17.

“The defense gave us plenty of opportunities, and we didn’t take advantage of it,” Jones said.

The Bruins averaged 35.8 points per game going into the matchup.

“We had enough stops defensively to win the game, I thought,” Rodriguez said.

UA redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon was not his usual self, going 18-for-48 for 175 yards through the air with a touchdown and an interception. Worse, he was 7-for-20 in the fourth quarter, his usual time to shine.

Rodriguez wasn’t sure about how Solomon performed; he said he needed to watch film to give an assessment of the freshman’s night.

“It wasn’t his best game,” Rodriguez said. “I have to watch film to see where we’re at.”

Solomon wasn’t very accurate, and many balls were over- or under-thrown, but he was under constant pressure. Normally, the offensive line is the Wildcats’ strength.

Redshirt senior tackle Mickey Baucus left the game early.

Following a UCLA fumble, Arizona had the ball with 4:32 left. The Wildcats were down by 10, but that’s plenty of time for a team that had outscored opponents 80-59 in the fourth quarter before Saturday.

Instead of tying the game or winning it on the last two drives, the Wildcats finished with a blocked field goal and an interception.

Usually, the Wildcats capitalize on opponents’ mistakes. Going into this game, they had scored 31 points off of turnovers, while foes had scored three.

The Bruins had an embarrassing 11 penalties for 118 yards, but the Wildcats didn’t punish them for it.

Arizona is at a crossroad.

Does this loss linger and lead to more? Is it a sign of future problems?

“I’m not worried about their feelings,” Rodriguez said. “We just got to play better.”

Do the Wildcats use that feeling as fuel to finish the season 10-2 and make their first major bowl since the 1994 Fiesta Bowl?

There was a saving grace from the game: the Wildcats’ playoff chances died. Perhaps this is the first sign of a maturing defense that leads to Arizona being a more complete team.

Or maybe the offense just stunk — and an underachieving UCLA team just couldn’t blow out the Wildcats.

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