TEMPE — Where else do you see a team win the statistical battle – sometimes more often than you think – and still fail to win the game?
Arizona, of course. Such is life for Arizona football.
Saturday afternoon was not exactly a stroll in a Tempe park because the Arizona State Sun Devils didn’t allow it in defeating Arizona 38-15 at Sun Devil Stadium.
It’s the fifth consecutive loss to the Sun Devils for Arizona and fourth time this season where Arizona out did its opponent – statistically – and lost.
And now Arizona State, owner of the big brother title given its recent dominance, has pushed its little brother again.
ASU seemingly toyed with its little brother. Let him gain some numbers only to run right past them when it counted.
It was equivalent of a wet willy to the ear.
In this case the numbers do lie. Arizona had 396 yards in total offense to ASU’s 314.
And yet, at any point did you think Arizona had a chance to pull it off? …
Of course not.
Once again, Arizona played well enough to play close but not well enough to win.
Welcome to most of the 2021 season and Jedd Fisch’s first year.
Good yardage but too many penalties and too many mistakes did in Arizona – once again.
UA quarterback Will Plummer passed for 346 yards – the most by a UA quarterback in the Territorial Cup (unbelievable right? – yet created at least 14 points for ASU on a clumsy fumble in the first half and a pick six in the second.
Fisch then went to a quote by Matt Ruhle (Carolina coach) where he said he went 1-11 to 6-6 to 11-1 over time at Baylor.
“He said the easy part was to go from 1-11 to 6-6 all you had to do was (avoid) dumb penalties and score in the redzone.”
Saturday, Arizona couldn’t do either. Both issues have been Arizona’s Achilles’ heel all season.
Once again, Arizona was allergic to the endzone, getting into the redzone six times and only coming away with 15 points.
“We need to make sure we clean those things up,” Fisch said.
And don’t forget the crazy penalties (UA had 12) and mistakes.
Arizona was called for holding on a punt that resulted in a safety for ASU, making it 31-15. It was called for an illegal fair catch on a kickoff that pinned Arizona back to the 3-yard-line that eventually resulted in that two-point safety.
“I think I jinxed myself (when he said) when you’re playing with a rookie quarterback you usually don’t score over 17 points,” Fisch said. “I never should have said that five years ago.”
It still applies – no more than this season. Arizona failed to score more than 17 points six times. Only once did it win. Of course, it helped the Wildcats snap that horrendous 20-game losing streak, but the point has been taken.
“I’m looking for many a game with many points,” Fisch said.
Until then, he’ll have to lament Saturday, while stilling pointing to the future.
By the time the sun set on Saturday, Fisch congratulated his team for never failing to compete and never getting fractured under “very difficult circumstances.”
Quarterbacks were lost for the season, depth was depleted, and youth was served.
Arizona at times limped to the finish line – just like they did on Saturday.
“It’s how you bounce back, right?,” Fisch said. “We’re turning it around and I’m excited where our program is headed. There’s no question in my mind we’re going to be a good program over the course of time.”