Wildcats leave Arizona football fans little to be excited about on Family Weekend
Arizona Stadium was sold out with 55,463 fans in attendance for Arizona football's Family Weekend matchup with USC on Saturday afternoon. There wasn't much of a family atmosphere, though, in what soon turned in to a colossal 48-14 blowout loss for the Wildcats.
By the start of the second half, you could count how many fans were left watching the Wildcats' season take the next plunge in to life-support status. Trojan quarterback Sam Darnold had already reminded Arizona fans, students and families of how putrid the Wildcats' defense actually is, shredding it for 180 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone.
"We're 2-5, we've had some adversity," Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We can fix problems in recruiting and other problems, we can fix in the short term. People's opinions are people's opinions. We're not happy when we are not winning."
Neither are the "55,463" fans in attendance either, Rich Rod.
There weren't any dissatisfied chants at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, though the players and coaches on the sideline probably wouldn't have been able to hear them, anyway.
If I was a fan, I'd leave to. They're watching their team get kicked around by USC while baking in the sun. It's a lose, lose situation.— Justin E. Spears (@JustinESports) October 15, 2016
It wouldn't have been surprising, though, to see some of the families band together over something—since it's becoming more and more difficult to stand behind Rodriguez's underperforming Wildcats.
The storylines have gotten old. So much to the point that perhaps the biggest one coming into this game—aside from 17-year-old Khalil Tate getting his first nod behind center for Arizona—was the fact it was Family Weekend. If that's even a storyline.
Arizona fans have given up all hope on this 2-5 Wildcats squad, and rightfully so. The Arizona defense has surrendered over 400 yards in all seven games this season, including 500+ yard performances to Washington and now USC.
"In this game, they were daring us with the individuals on the outside," USC head coach Clay Helton said. "We believe in Sam [Darnold] and we believe in our wide receivers. It showed up in the second half on that first drive with JuJu [Smith-Schuster]."
Smith-Schuster tore the Wildcats apart with 132 yards and three touchdowns on nine receptions. He probably stepped on every single blade of artificial turf at Arizona Stadium. The next-best Trojan receiver finished with a mere 42 yards on five receptions. God forbid Arizona throws an extra defender or two, or three, Smith-Schuster's way.
"I can take responsibility for some of that," Arizona safety Tellas Jones said. "I had two busted coverages. I just need to be better."
On the flip side for Arizona, most parents in attendance for Family Weekend were probably scratching their heads as to how a 17-year-old could possibly lead and compete against a tough Pac-12 Conference foe. Well, asked and answered. He can't.
If you are reading this, you have a higher passer rating than Tate's -9.5 pic.twitter.com/7RamuVHMzh— Ivan iii (@Ivan14bro) October 15, 2016
Tate started just 1-for-7 through the air with an interception and a lost fumble in the first half. Rodriguez gave up on the freshman's first career start in the third quarter, and replaced Tate with backup tight end Matt Morin. This all against a defense that surrendered over 375 yards per game before Saturday.
Not to mention USC's offensive stats this season, which are among the worst in the conference. The Trojans ranked second-to-last in scoring coming into Saturday's contest. So much for that.
Arizona with a key goalline stop. Keeps the deficit at 34.— Ivan iii (@Ivan14bro) October 15, 2016
It's pretty easy to harp on the attendance in Arizona Stadium most weeks. Fan bases are obligated to provide that family-friendly atmosphere for their team and a hostile environment for the opposition. But Rodriguez and company left the Family Weekend crowd with little obligation to do anything on Saturday, besides flee for the exits.
Follow Dominic Baciocco on Twitter.