That was a game Arizona needed … N-E-E-D-E-D.
It needed it for future attendance, such that it is now it’s not very good (if good is the right word to use, although UA announced the crowd to be 43,334). It needed it for a possible winning season, but that too is up in the air after it lost to Houston Saturday night 19-16 at Arizona Stadium.
This was a 50-50 game UA absolutely had to have to keep the fans interested in a season that could go on the brink at any moment.
Well, Saturday night was that moment when the one thing you thought you could depend failed ‘em – the offense. You figured if Arizona held Houston to 19 points UA would win. Why wouldn’t you?
“It wasn’t our best,” said Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez in a press conference that lasted three minutes, 45 seconds. “We can play better.”
One would hope.
Even Rodriguez admitted there are questions, but he was not prepared to answer them fully because he just didn’t know how to.
In years past, Arizona had its high-flying offense to lean on. It’s defense? No so much. But on a night when the defense was capable, its offense went south.
UA athletic director Dave Heeke is now on the clock on a coach he inherited from former UA AD Greg Byrne, who is comfortably watching No. 1 Alabama.
The coming weeks will tell the story. The second chapter/game – although not scary – was more “meh” than anything else. It matched the feeling in the community I get when we talk Arizona football.
Quite honestly, I haven’t heard any sort of vibe for this year. Have you?
After Saturday night, what’s there to be excited about? Your No. 1 quarterback had perhaps his worst day as a collegian, fumbling twice (one led to a crucial safety) and he over threw a sure touchdown in the second half.
“Brandon didn’t play really well,” said Rodriguez, who added he didn’t feel anyone on offense played well.
Arizona was capable of beating Houston … it just didn’t, although it had its chances behind sophomore Khalil Tate, who replaced an inconsistent Dawkins who was said to be “nicked” up on a play in the second half. Tate promptly came in and led UA to – um – a field goal on a night it N-E-E-D-E-D touchdowns.
“It’s hard when you can’t put the ball away,” said offensive lineman Jacob Alsadek, one of three UA players brought to the media room. The other two weren’t Dawkins or Tate. “You’re going down there to score and put seven points and not three. We had a couple of chances … things would have been different. But three points is a big difference from seven.”
Yes, especially when you lose by three.
Again, the defense, often criticized, was better than it was last week and that was acknowledged by Rodriguez. Sadly, it needed to be better.
“We just wanted to do anything we can to help our team win,” said Demetrius Flanigan-Fowles. “We were trying to get the ball to our offense the best we can.”
It did that – but J.J. Taylor was hardly enough, although he did what he could running around like a human video game. Once again, Nick Wilson is out with an injury (ankle).
And then there’s this from Rodriguez, he want with the revolving QBs in the second half because Dawkins got “nicked” up and Tate still isn’t right from last week’s injury.
And they are just two games in. That’s the state of Arizona football. It’s two top quarterbacks are slightly injured. But Arizona needs to win with one of them.
What’s the difference in the two?
“Khalil is a guy who sometimes you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Alsadek said. “He just runs the ball, trying to make big plays. Brandon is more sound, I guess. Sometimes Khalil starts running and you don’t know where he’s at.”
Just like Arizona, a team searching for an identity in what might be the start of a long season.