Arizona looked to end its nine-game losing streak on the road in Pasadena against UCLA. However, on the first play of the game, starting quarterback Grant Gunnell went down with a shoulder injury keeping him out for the remainder of the game.
The Wildcats turned to true freshman quarterback Will Plummer to take the place of the injured Gunnell. Plummer was given excellent field position on the second drive of the game and helped lead Arizona 22 yards for a touchdown, scoring the game’s first points.
It was downhill from that point on for Arizona leading to a 27-10 UCLA victory extending the longest losing streak in program history to 10 games.
— Arizona Football (@ArizonaFBall) November 29, 2020
- Arizona Road Struggles
Arizona’s road struggles continued in Pasadena Saturday night as the Wildcats were forced to go to Plummer for the vast majority of the game, limiting the team’s offensive play calling.
Although Arizona was the first team to score, UCLA ripped off 20 straight points putting pressure on Plummer in his first career start.
The Wildcats are now 2-11 in road games under coach Kevin Sumlin with the last road win came against Colorado in 2019, which is also the last game Arizona has won.
Arizona's offensive line on that last drive:
LT Tyson Gardner
LG Donovan Laie
C Josh McCauley
RG Robert Congel
RT Paiton Fears
No Jordan Morgan
— Justin Spears (@JustinESports) November 29, 2020
2. The O-Line is a Weakness
Coming into the 2020 season, the offensive seemed to be one of Arizona’s strengths, with more depth than years past.
However, through three games this season, the offensive line has given up an average of 3 sacks per game and has seen players shuffled in-and-out the starting rotation.
The line’s issues are more than just pass protection. The running game has been inconsistent in Arizona’s three games, averaging 3.5 yards a carry, taking zero pressure off the passing game, thus leaving quarterbacks on a tee for opponents’ front sevens.
The last takeaway by the Arizona defense came 371 days ago — an interception late in the third quarter against Utah.
— Anthony Gimino (@AGWildcatReport) November 29, 2020
3. Defensive Struggles
Although Arizona has improved on defense under new defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, the team is still struggling in critical areas. The glaring issue is the inability to create any turnovers through the first three games of the season.
There have been opportunities, but from players missing a pick or a fumble call not go Arizona’s way. Still, any way you look at it, the Wildcats are searching for the first takeaway of the season halfway through this COVID year.
As a team, Arizona hasn’t forced a turnover since 2019 against Utah in a game where the Utes dominated the Wildcats winning in Tucson 35-7.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.