Arizona football coach Jedd Fisch said Saturday night ‘you never know’ when you’ll need a backup to come in and save the day.
You never know when second team players will have to come in and shine. Why not add you’ll ‘never know’ when Stanford will give Arizona a hard time despite being a 12-point underdog.
Well, of course, you know … always. Arizona had gone zero for six in the last six meetings with the Cardinal. It could have very easily been seven in Palo Alto, California on Saturday night.
It was headed there, but …
Arizona survived two missed field goals, a second poor performance by starting quarterback Jayden de Laura and an overall lackluster effort for mostly the entire game.
Did Stanford lose it? Or did Arizona win it?
Heck, does it really matter given Arizona won 21-20 to move to 3-1?
Arizona could have easily left 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-12 Conference, but it didn’t. Noah Fifita came in and saved the day. Jonah Coleman came in and saved the day. And too some degree, Arizona’s defense – even though it didn’t look like it had in its first three games – held up to get the win.
Fifita said he knew he had to “step up” in replacing de Laura, who went out with a leg injury after the third quarter. What a moment for the redshirt freshman, right?
De Laura was seen congratulating Fifita after the game, with hugs.
After all, he didn’t disappoint, leading Arizona to two touchdowns and the come-from-behind win.
“He’s helped me prepare for this moment,” Fifita said, referring to de Laura. “All the coaches have “
Fifita said his first thoughts were of concern for de Laura and his injury, shortly after his teammates went to him “to make sure I was comfortable and that I was good.”
And he was. He went 4 for 4 from the field for 47 yards and ran for nine yards. Arizona’s offense looked sound again, if in just key spots.
What does it say to Fifita’s poise to come in and do what he did late in the game?
“It doesn’t surprise me about Noah,” Fisch said on his postgame radio show on KCUB 1290. “Noah is unbelievable in terms of his preparation, in terms of his focus (and) how much he loves the game of football. There was no flinch.”
Arizona, however, did throughout the night – or surely looked like it in as much as the offense had no rhythm to it in the first half behind de Laura. He misfired numerous times. Looked out of sorts in others. And Stanford looked nothing like a team that lost to Sacramento State last week.
Oddly, Fisch said this on his show after saying he told his team it has won five of its last seven games.
The way we’re playing football right now we’re playing at a good level,” he said on the show.
That’s debatable, although a one-point win beats the alternative of a one-point loss.
He did, reportedly telling the radio show that they had played one of the ugliest halves in a while.
It was just good enough – just good enough – to get past Stanford, scoring on two of its four possessions.
“We just had to figure out a way to get the win and that’s all we did,” he said.
And that’s all that was needed.