Arizona Football: Five stats that defined Arizona's blowout loss
The Wildcats traveled north to Pullman to face top-10 Washington State in sub-40 degree weather for a game that was pretty much done and dusted 10 minutes into the contest.The Cougars embarrassed Arizona by a score of 69-28. Here are the five stats that stood out in the blowout.
It's no secret that Washington State had an explosive offense, but almost nobody would have predicted the onslaught that took place in the first 30 minutes of the game. The Cougars capitalized on penalties, blown assignments, mental errors and pretty much every other mistake that Arizona seemed to commit in the first half. The defensive unit that looked unstoppable against Oregon was nowhere to be found, leaving Khalil Tate and company to play from behind as soon as they started their first drive. All in all, a disaster for Arizona, as the 55 points they gave up was the most they have given up in a half since 1923.
Gardner Minshew II walked onto the field against Arizona as a Heisman contender, and walked off at halftime leaving any doubt that he belonged in the discussion to rest. He threw for five first-half touchdowns and picked apart the Wildcat secondary between scoring throws like a surgeon with his favorite scalpel, making calculated incisions as well as slicing up the outmatched Arizona secondary who spent the entire night chasing around maroon jerseys. The mustached-marauder was unstoppable on the night and made quick work out of an outmatched defense and defensive coordinator.
On a night where the Air-Raid offense shown brightly as Mike Leach once again pressed all of the right buttons, Minshew completed passes to 11 different receivers on Saturday night. Minshew’s unselfishness made every receiver a threat, even if they hadn’t caught a ball yet, because the defense knew that Minshew had no problem throwing to that person if he felt he was open.
It sounds like what every quarterback does but in a sport where timing, chemistry and practice time play into a quarterback and a receiver's connection, it makes what Minshew does with his entire stable of pass-catchers that much more impressive.
If Arizona wanted to stand toe-to-toe with Washington State, the Wildcats would have had to play a near perfect game limiting mistakes while forcing the Cougars into their own and then capitalizing. That was not the case in Pullman Saturday night, as Arizona gave the ball away three times within the two opening quarters, giving Washington State suitable field position to be able to separate themselves from its visitors.
Arizona finishes its road travels for the season with only a single victory, against Pac-12 doormat Oregon State. A season where the Wildcats need a win in their last game in order to be bowl eligible saw many opportunities on the road either slip through the team's fingers fingers (UCLA), or fail to materialize entirely (Utah) leading to a season of mediocrity and frustration.
Arizona was never able to prepare for a team and not lose focus throughout a trip and with unfamiliar surroundings. For Arizona to reach the heights Dave Heeke envisioned when he convinced Kevin Sumlin to move to Tucson, the Wildcats have many questions to answer, and this blowout loss to Washington State brings all of those questions to the forefront.
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