Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats Football: The Defense Isn’t The Problem



Well that one hurt.

After the 56-30 loss at home to UCLA, Arizona had some reason to be concerned but not enough to panic.

But after the 55-17 thrashing by Stanford in Palo Alto, the Wildcats may have to hit the panic button.

What we watched Saturday night was not Arizona football. The offense wasn’t getting first downs, which kept Stanford’s defense fresh and kept Arizona’s defense exhausted. The defense did an excellent job early in the game holding Stanford to two field goals that could’ve very easily been two touchdowns. But after being on the field for 11:23 in the first quarter, Arizona’s defense was gassed and the all the injuries took full effect.

The saying in Tucson is 60 minutes of Arizona football, but in the last two weeks, it has seemed to be more like 60 minutes of catch-up. Arizona has held the lead for a combined 2:20 the past two games.

I don’t blame the last two games on anyone or anything solely because the fact of the matter is that UCLA and Stanford were just the better team that night on both sides of the ball.

If Arizona doesn’t want a repeat of the past two games, the offensive side of the ball needs to be more effective. After averaging 35 points a game last year, the Wildcats have racked up 47 points in past two games. Last year Arizona scored 47 or more points in a game three different times in the regular season.

The past two games the Wildcats have averaged 156 yards passing a game while rushing for 236 a game. The reason for the discrepancy isn’t because Arizona is running the ball a lot more than they are throwing, the reason is that the quarterbacks just haven’t been very effective.

One of the things that has made Oregon so effective the past seven years or so is the fact that its offense has played so effectively that the opposing defense would be tired by the fourth quarter. Also, the Ducks’ offense helps their defense because they very rarely go three and out which keeps their defense fresh, and they rack up yards, which means they’ll generally win the field position battle.

Rich Rod has a similar philosophy and right now Arizona’s offense isn’t working. When the offense isn’t moving the ball, the opposing offense is getting the ball with great field position. Not only that but the Wildcat defense isn’t getting enough time to rest because the Arizona offense is only on the field for a minute or so.

A lot of people have been blaming the defense as the reason for the losses, but I am not buying it. The past two games Arizona’s defense has been on the field for almost 70 minutes. Spending that much time on the field is dangerous and at some point the defense will break.

The issue has been the quarterback play and that is magnified because of the type of offense that Rich Rod runs. I’m not bashing Rich Rod’s offense. I personally think, if you have the players, it’s the most effective type of offense in college football. But that spread and speed offense is based off of the quarterback, where every play has two or three reads he has to make. That makes it a tough system to have a back up play a lot of snaps when he hasn’t had enough experience making those reads.

I can’t wait for Anu Solomon to come back. He’s the difference between a below average Arizona team and a great one.

Nick Latta is an accomplished youth golfer from Tucson who follows high school sports and the University of Arizona closely. Currently on the golf team at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, Calif.

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