Arizona football coach Jedd Fisch didn’t mince words when he spoke about his team late Saturday night: “We know we’re really good.”
After Arizona crushed Washington State 44-6 – in Pullman, Washington, no less – it’s hard to argue.
Of course, the “really” could be measured game-to-game, but Saturday night in the Palouse Arizona looked the part of being “really good.”
All phases, all the time. It started with Noah Fifita, everyone in the middle, and ending with running back Jonah Coleman.
And heck none of them received game balls. Instead, everyone with a Washington State past received one: defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen (who played at WSU, Josh Mora, team psychologist Dr. Kranjska, coach Richardson and Jaden de Laura (former WSU player).
But when you’re winning, everyone shares in the glory. Especially when it’s a blowout on the road and for only its second Pac-12 Conference win in a season in seemingly forever.
But the past has impacted the future or at least the present. Its near-miss against Mississippi State, it’s close game vs. Washington and last week’s near-shocker vs. USC has put some calluses on the Cats and has hardened their hearts.
“We were just waiting to get over that hump in the tough one,” Fisch said on his postgame radio show on KCUB 1290. “It was great to get on the road against a top 20 team and play the type of football that I know we can play.”
Even though Washington State jumped out early did you really feel Arizona was not going to win Saturday night?
Arizona got ahead right after WU’s first score and not only went ahead but dominated.
I can’t remember the last time I ever wrote that or even thought that was possible against a good football team. Saturday night was THAT night.
Arizona was flawless – offensively and defensively.
Behind Fifita, Arizona looked like it belonged (again I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve written that) and with Coleman & Company working their offensive magic, UA scored, scored and scored some more.
Then there was the defense, already a ballyhooed group compared to a year ago and beyond. Arizona’s defense was superb. Washington State had to earn everything, and after the first half didn’t much, given it was a rarity to be on Arizona side of the field.
Arizona’s success came from an intestinal fortitude that has them playing well. Maybe even a belief that they ARE good.
“Confidence, confidence, the team is confident understands that they are good,” Fisch said. “Sometimes you have to see it and believe it and know it. Sometimes you can’t just be told it.”
Again, the Washington game helped and the USC game helped even more.
“Now I believe they are sitting in a spot (where) they wanted to come out here and prove it,” he said.
He later said, “they’ve bought into and really believe we are good. We play good together. Our defense is good. Our kicking game is good. When all three phases can play good you have a great shot to become a good team.”
They’ve found some sort of groove behind backup quarterback Fifita, who might find himself in the starting spot for good. Who knows?
It’s sure salty enough to stir debate when it comes to the QB spot. But that’s a Fisch decision and he won’t have to make it for another two weeks given Arizona has a bye next week.
Until then, Fisch said Fifita was “fantasitic” on Saturday. Certainly, he was consistent, hitting on 79 percent of his passes (not all easy ones) in leading Arizona to an efficient victory.
Fisch said Fifita handled himself “beautifully.”
Then there was Coleman, who ran for three touchdowns and at times was too tough to tackle.
“He’s playing at an elite level,” Fisch said.
Notables from Arizona
Arizona has now posted back-to-back years with road wins over teams ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1997 and 1998. It’s their first time accomplishing the feat as an unranked team since 1981 and 1982. … Saturday’s victory was Arizona’s first win in Pullman since 2014 and snapped a threegame WSU win streak in the series. … Arizona picked up their second victory over a ranked team during the head coach Jedd Fisch era on Saturday night in Pullman. Both ranked wins came on the road (last: at No. 9 UCLA, 2022, W 34-28