Five key plays cost Arizona a chance at a win
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Arizona football team didn't play well against the University of Iowa at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, but the Wildcats were still in the game until the fourth quarter. The contest could have ended much differently if a few bounces went in Arizona's favor.
While Arizona coaches said they left a lot of big plays on the field during the 27-17 loss to the Hawkeyes, five plays in particular stuck out most.
Arizona's 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line
After an incomplete pass to Delashaun Dean and a short completion to David Douglas, Arizona faced a 3rd-and-6 play. Quarterback Matt Scott turned and handed the ball off to junior running back Nic Grigsby, who bolted through the line on a draw play. He followed his blocks down the left sideline and then cut all the way back across the field. It seemed he was headed for a score but instead he was dragged down at the 1-yard line after a 58-yard gain. Arizona still had a good chance to get seven points but ended up settling for less.
""We had a guy miss an assignment on that particular play and we lost three yards on first down, and that changed the way we approached it,"" said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. ""It put us in a passing situation and we just didn't make any plays at that point. We need to be able to score there.""
Iowa's 3rd-and-23 conversion
About midway through the second quarter — with Arizona holding a 10-7 lead — the Wildcats had the Hawkeyes in a less-than-favorable position. Iowa faced a third and forever play and called a conservative draw play up the middle.
Freshman running back Adam Robinson slipped past Arizona's defensive linemen, used a referee as a screen and then scampered 43 yards down to the Wildcats' 25-yard line. Four plays later Robinson punched it in for a score and Iowa never trailed again.
""On third and extra long they run the ball probably 100 percent of the time. It was obvious on film, it was obvious that's what they do,"" said UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. ""They want to run it and if they get a big play good for them. If not, they're going to punt it and play for field position and play great defense, that's what they do.
It was just poor execution and a very discouraging play,"" he added. ""That was a real back-breaker.""
Arizona's fake field goal try
Minutes before halftime, Arizona drove down the field and didn't convert on a 3rd-and-2 play from the Iowa 23. Arizona lined up for a field goal try — a 39-yard attempt — but instead ran a fake. Punter Keenyn Crier, who serves as the team's holder, picked up the ball and tried to run for a first down. Crier hesitated when he was roughly two yards from the first down marker, and that cost him as he came up just short.
""We saw something on tape. … If he runs up inside, I've got to look at (the film), but I thought it was there,"" Mike Stoops said. ""I don't know, that's kind of how we thought it would be. We just didn't execute it as well as we needed to.""
Dean's long ‘catch' that wasn't
Trailing by four points, the Wildcats had the ball for the second time in the second half and dialed up a long pass play to wide out Delashaun Dean. The 6-foot-4 Dean leaped to make the grab with an Iowa defensive back draped all over him. Dean hauled in the ball and appeared to come down with a legal catch, but the officials saw otherwise.
Dean immediately popped up and gestured toward Arizona head coach Mike Stoops to challenge the ruling, but the replay officials took that onus upon themselves. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the play stood as called despite Dean's steadfast stance that he caught the pass.
""We just could not make a play and they made the plays necessary to win,"" Mike Stoops said. ""When you play these games you've got to make competitive plays. We just weren't competitive enough in certain situations.""
Scott's ill-advised interception
Late in the third quarter, with the Wildcats down by 10 points and desperately needing a score, Arizona decided it needed to try for a home run. Dykes called a long pass play, but Matt Scott didn't deliver the desired results.
He hesitated before chucking the ball high into the air, almost as if it was a Hail Mary play. With no UA receiver near the ball, Iowa safety Tyler Sash merely waited for the ball to come to him before making an interception. Even though there were still 15 minutes left in the game, that play effectively ended the contest.
""I was probably pressing some of the play calling. He was trying to make a play and just threw kind of an ill-advised pass,"" Dykes said. ""I think at that point of the game he was probably like the rest of us; just frustrated and trying to make a play. That's what young quarterbacks do and we've got to teach him not to do that.""