What’s a coach to do when he knows – deep down he should – that he needs better players to compete at a higher level? And what does a fan base so desperate for a winner need to do to temper their enthusiasm for success?
Be patient, perhaps? Realistic? Definitely.
Arizona football, behind second-year coach Jedd Fisch, finds himself in that situation after Saturday’s 49-22 beat down to Oregon.
By the way, who thought Arizona would be able to hang with Oregon in the first place?
Well, the fans for one, who think wins over a mediocre San Diego State team, an elite FCS team (North Dakota State) and a win over a hapless Colorado team warrants such an unrealistic one.
But, really, is it? I’ve heard all season Arizona is in a rebuild and in year one, never mind it’s Fisch’s second year.
Still, clearly Arizona is much improved from a year ago, two years ago, three years ago … but it’s nowhere near the Oregon’s of the world.
To think that would be unrealistic.
Fans have gone so far as thinking Arizona might be bowl game eligible after the aforementioned three wins; other fans ask can they win another game after witnessing the likes of Saturday night.
I’ll be the first to say it’s never as bad as it looks and, of course, never as good, either.
Arizona was outclassed Saturday – and the form showed that it would be. Unless, of course, you’re reading from a different form.
Oregon is a $100,000 horse; Arizona was a $25,000 one. (Using racehorse terminology).
So, when Fisch answered a question from the Arizona Daily Star’s Michael Lev asking if Arizona was in a game where it can measure itself to where it is – or can be – compared to where Oregon is and some other better programs are it as a good question.
The answer was a bit puzzling in as much as how does Arizona know where it needs to go if it hasn’t been there in years? In the last 25-30 years there have been a handful of good – if not very good seasons – to be proud of. Still, Fisch said, “I don’t know if we’re measuring ourselves. We played Mississippi State here, and they’re sitting at 5-1, and the only game they lost was a weird game at LSU. We don’t measure ourselves against Mississippi State. We don’t measure ourselves against Oregon. We measure ourselves against ourselves. We have a standard, and our standard is to perform at the very best of the opportunity we have. And if we can continue to do that there’s going to be a lot of (good?) things in our future.
“We love our kids. We have a lot of young kids. We have a lot of kids that you’re going to be covering for the next two, three or four years. We’re just going to get better. And as we continue to get better, more and more people will want to join this program. And as they continue to want to join this program we’re going to be in that same position as the teams that have been able to recruit for five, seven years to the exact same system.”
Let’s get this straight: Arizona is no where near Oregon’s caliber and hasn’t been for years. It’s going to be while to get there. It just is.
The defense isn’t working. If you can’t tackle how can you learn how to tackle if you don’t tackle much in practice?
There’s your Catch 22. You can talk gaps and assignments – missed or otherwise – but if you’re not capable of tackling it doesn’t matter. It’s a problem. Arizona’s defense is a problem.
Can it get better? (more later)
Maybe, but it is what it is.
But remember: Colorado, San Diego State and North Dakota State aren’t on the schedule anymore.
It’s Washington, USC, Utah, UCLA, Washington State and Arizona State.
Is there a win in there somewhere? Maybe two?
Arizona will have to be coached up. But isn’t that what Arizona football is all about – being coached up to beat teams no one thinks they can beat? It’s always been that way.
And yes, Arizona needs better players to compete against the Ducks of the world, but that doesn’t happen overnight in a rebuild. It happens when the rebuild is near completion.
The foundation is still being placed. Just as the offense and the defenses are works in progress.
More defense than offense at this point.
“We have to find a way to continue to develop other players we have on our roster, continue to recruit well and continue to get the players that we have playing defense right now playing at a highest level,” Fisch admitted in speaking about the defense. “And we’re going to continue to work through that, we’re going to continue to build off of it.”