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Don't blame the kicker


The Arizona and ASU rivalry is the oldest in college football, but never in its storied history has there been a game like this — and there probably won't be one like it ever again.



Head coach Mike Stoops was utterly speechless after the game, unable to figure out if this season was a success when asked. When he found his words, Stoops said that the sun will still come up in the morning.

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But it won't be as bright. For anyone.



It's easy to blame this loss on Alex Zendejas. The much-maligned kicker has had a nightmare of a season, and it was only fitting that it would culminate in an epic collapse that featured a missed extra point that would win the game in regulation and another one to tie the game in overtime.



But to put the loss squarely on the fragile shoulders of Zendejas wouldn't be right, because everyone played a role in the debacle.



From the coaches, to the offense, to the defense and, of course, to the special teams, the Wildcats were off last night, but that shouldn't have come as a surprise. Unfortunately for Arizona, the wheels came off when it lost to Stanford on Nov. 6 and nobody in the entire program knew how to steer it back on track.



A team that was ranked as high as No. 9 in the country and exploded out of the gates to a 7-1 record finished 7-5 with more questions than answers — the most important one being: What happened?



Nothing embodies the collapse more than the offense. It was unstoppable in the beginning of the season, mainly because it was balanced. It could run, it could pass and, boy, it could score.



But the running went away, injuries took their toll and suddenly a harmonious and successful band became a one-man show. Air Zona became Juron Criner and Friends.



The wide receiver was incredible this season, but much like musicians who tried to carry a fallen and distant band with it, it just didn't work.



Phil Lesh and Friends was nice, but it wasn't the Grateful Dead. Dave Matthews and Friends was a good effort, but it didn't have the same feel as the Dave Matthews Band. And even though a Roger Waters show is a heck of a time these days, there just aren't enough bricks in the wall.



Arizona will play in a bowl game this season, but if you're honest with yourself you'll admit that it doesn't really matter. This season is lost.



Whether or not Stoops can find the words to decide if this season was a success or not when it ends is irrelevant, but he and his staff will need to spend the offseason trying to figure out what went wrong.



And after ending with a loss to ASU, the sourest of sour notes, it is going to be a long winter in Tucson for Arizona football.



— Tim Kosch is a journalism senior and sports editor for the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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Includes tests since August 2, 2021
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Updated December 5, 2021