Notebook: Arizona self-implodes in loss to Utah
On Friday night, the Arizona Wildcats had 107 more total yards of offense than the No. 23 Utah Utes and held them to only three 4th quarter points and forced two turnovers. Typically, such a scenario would yield an Arizona win. But once you factor in five UA turnovers, two field goal attempts that were blocked and missed open receivers, that scenario quickly vanishes.
The end result was a nauseating 30-24 loss to the Utes, a game which the Wildcats could have, and probably should have won. Even with a Star Wars promotional night on hand, the force was not with Arizona.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the Wildcats performance:
Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers:
Quarterback Brandon Dawkins has been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde through the first four games of the season and against Utah he reared his ugly side again. Dawkins threw three interceptions, including one for a pick-six in the third quarter, and fumbled right after Arizona recovered an onside kick during the game’s final minutes.
“He was doing good, but then he’d make a mistake,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He’s trying.”
J.J. Taylor also coughed up the football on a run in the first quarter. It looked like Taylor was going to set the Wildcats up inside the Utah 10-yard line, but he had the ball stripped from his body and the Utes recovered.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda:
Trevor Wood could not have been more wide open. On a fourth down play in the third quarter from the Utah 25-yard line, the 6 foot 6 inch tight end snuck across the middle of the field with no one around him as Dawkins rolled to his right. The quarterback didn’t see Wood and instead fired it at a receiver near the sideline who failed to make the catch. Had Dawkins thrown to Wood, it would have been a surefire touchdown.
“If a guy is running a pattern on a pass play, he’s one of the options,” Rodriguez said. “And sometimes you miss him. Most of the time you don’t.”
Speaking of surefire touchdowns, Nick Wilson dropped a wide open pass on a wheel route in the fourth quarter. Instead of scoring six, the Wildcats had to attempt a field goal which ended up getting blocked.
A New Low
Football attendance has dwindled since the middle of the 2015 season for Arizona and on Friday, it hit a new low. The announced attendance was 36,651 which became the smallest crowd since 1997 and the second smallest since 1982.
Despite the grueling loss, Arizona had a few positive aspects it can take away from the game. The defensive performance was easily the highlight of the night. They held the Utes to just 5.2-yards per play, 2-10 on third down conversions and 341-yards of total offense.
Freshman linebacker Colin Schooler led the team with eight tackles while other freshman linebacker Tony Fields II led the team with one sack. The secondary also limited Utah’s best wide receiver, Darren Carrington, to only 76 yards receiving.
A Week to Recover
UA will now head into its bye week and will have extra time to fix its problems before traveling to Boulder, Colo. on Oct. 7 to take on the Buffaloes.
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