Upon further review: Arizona's loss to Stanford
The Arizona Daily Wildcat delves deeper into the UA's overtime loss to the Cardinal on Saturday
Arizona's Johnny Jackson (30) is brought down by Stanford's A.J.Tarpley (17) and Usua Amanam (15) in the third quarter at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California, Saturday, October 6, 2012. Stanford defeated Arizona in overtime, 54-48. (Patrick Tehan/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)
A previous version of this article reported the final score of the Arizona-Stanford game incorrectly. This version has been updated to reflect the correction.
Storyline of the game: Arizona’s Porous Defense
Coming into the season, the Wildcats were projected to have a prolific offense and a below-average defense, similar to last season. That was certainly the case in Saturday’s 54-48 overtime loss to Stanford.
The defense hasn’t been spectacular this season, giving up an average of 451 yards coming into the game. But even in the 49-0 rout to Oregon, the defense still gave a valiant effort, even if the stats don’t reflect it.
Saturday was a completely different story. Arizona allowed a below-average Cardinal offense to march effortlessly up and down the field to the tune of 617 yards and 54 points.
The absence of the injured Jared Tevis was obvious as Arizona couldn’t contain either quarterback Josh Nunes — 21-for-34 for 360 yards and three rushing touchdowns — or running back Stepfan
Taylor, who finished with 142 yards on the ground.
Arizona’s offense may have sputtered out at the end of the game and especially in overtime, but the porous defense is what ended up ruining the Wildcats’ bid for an upset.
The poor performance tumbled Arizona down to 111th in the nation in total defense, as the unit is now allowing an average of 486 yards per game.
The sting of this defeat won’t fade anytime soon. The fact that it sinks Arizona to 0-3 in the Pac-12 and drops its record to 2-14 over the past 16 conference games makes it that much worse.
Turning Point: The Fumble
The game provided several memorable moments, for instance Rich Rodriguez’s decision to not try for the win in regulation and the overtime interception of quarterback Matt Scott. Another potential turning point was the errant pass from Scott to receiver Tyler Slavin on third and long that handed the ball back to Stanford for the eventual game-tying drive. But the moment that truly sparked the Cardinal’s comeback — or Arizona’s demise — was a fluky play that went completely Stanford’s way.
On third and eight with Stanford trailing by two touchdowns, Nunes dropped back and hit receiver Drew Terrell just past the first down mark. The ball popped out as Terrell was wrapped up and it was called an incompletion on the field.
But the play was reviewed. The replay showed that Terrell, an Arizona native, clearly gained control of the ball, took two steps and then fumbled it. At the time none of the Wildcats noticed, allowing Terrell to casually pull the ball back into his body. The play was overturned and since no one fought Terrell for possession of the ball, the recovery was given to Stanford.
Instead of a facing a do-or-die fourth and eight from the Stanford 42 yard-line, the Cardinal received a first down and moved 16 yards up the field. From there it went all downhill — Stanford scored to make it 48-41, and the rest is history.
Stat of the Day: 45 completions
Scott has put up impressive numbers so far this season, but on Saturday he took it to a whole new level.
Arizona threw early abd often and when all was said and done Scott set the school record for passing completions and attempts. Scott went 45-for-69 and added 491 yards to boot. Quarterback Willie Tuitama previously held both records, which he set in a 45-27 loss to No. 6 Cal in 2007. Tuitama went 42-for-61 for 309 yards but a good chunk of it came in the second half with the game already out of reach.
Scott’s 491 yards also put him third all-time for single game passing yards and just a yard behind Jason Johnson for second place. Tuitama holds the record with 510 yards passing against Washington in 2007. With the line in disarray because of injuries to center Kyle Quinn and guard Trace Biskin, the Wildcats were forced to rely on quick passes as Stanford penetrated into the backfield.
It didn’t look like the offensive system Rodriguez brought with him to Tucson, but Scott and his favorite target Austin Hill — 11 receptions for 165 yards and two scores — made it work.
Of course with the fickle nature of football, all of the passing stats went for naught after Scott’s overtime interception sealed Arizona’s third straight defeat.