You know you’re pulling for the Arizona Wildcats. You know that I know it’s just difficult to do so. It just is.
The Wildcats, for four consecutive games, gave you hope things would be better given they had won those games and, well, looked half-way decent in doing so. Last week’s victory – on the road against Colorado – helped with that hope.
And, you can never live without hope.
Khalil Tate had a great game and everyone did just enough to escape Boulder, Colorado with a win.
Heck, Saturday night’s halftime lead gave you more optimism. The largest crowd of the season was even inspired, cheering on UA as they left the field with a 17-13 lead.
How often does that happen?
Then, well, the second half started, and it was all downhill from there. Washington showed its athletic class and UA showed – like it has so many years – how far it still needs to go.
Arizona lost 51-27, getting outscored 38-10 in the second half. The game went to the Dawgs.
“We got outplayed. We got outcoached,” UA coach Kevin Sumlin said. “It’s something that we gotta handle. That’s our message. We have problems. You admit what it is, whatever that is.”
It was a bizarre game on what proved to be a tough night for Khalil Tate and others. To be fair, Tate, criticized last season for short, curt answers in response to media questions, was very good in the postgame press conference.
“It was a tough one,” Tate said. “All week, we practiced hard and thought we had a good chance of winning it going into halftime. We didn’t play hard enough in the second half and that’s when a great program like Washington will take over like they did.”
Arizona didn’t help itself with four turnovers and a punt block.
“You can’t have that many turnovers and expect to play a competitive game,” Sumlin said.
Yup, Arizona can’t be halfway decent against better teams and expect to win. That rarely happens.
1ST HALF THOUGHTS:
1. Defense is playing lights out! They kept us in the game.
2. The only thing that can stop Khalil Tate, is Khalil Tate. #BearDown
— BJ Denker (@BJDenker) October 13, 2019
And Tate was hardly the player everyone saw last week when he looked incredibly good against the Buffaloes. Then again, Washington is not the Buffaloes.
For those who wonder why Arizona looked good week one week and not the next, it’s simple: opponents matter.
And they will continue to the rest of the way given the schedule doesn’t do UA any favors – USC, Stanford, Oregon State (winnable), Oregon, Utah and Arizona State (toss up, maybe).
What Arizona can’t have is inconsistent play from Tate, who runs hot and cold like a Sonoran fall. Saturday night, he threw an interception and lost a fumble on what appeared to be an attempt of a pass with his left hand. He also spent much of the night scrambling for his QB life, getting sacked four times. He threw the ball away a number of times just to save yardage. He didn’t a time or two on others (which was a bit bizarre).
“They made it very chaotic,” Tate said. “They made sure they put pressure up front and that the backend did its job. We just have to be better all around.”
And more consistent. Arizona was hardly that all night. It was lucky to have the lead in the first half, given UW could only get two field goals in the first quarter.
UA survived – but you knew it wouldn’t last. If you didn’t know, you haven’t been following UA football all these years.
And, well, this is one of those years. It just is.