Foles’ struggles prove costly in loss to Utah

Senior quarterback throws for two interceptions as Arizona is eliminated from bowl contention

It was the fourth quarter, and after struggling most of the game, Arizona was finally gaining some momentum. Trailing 27-14 with about 11 minutes remaining, Arizona started a drive from its own 20-yard-line.

Led by quarterback Nick Foles, the Wildcats drove their way up the field to Utah’s 9-yard-line. After a defensive pass interference call, it was first-and-goal on the 2-yard line.

Foles threw the ball toward freshman Austin Hill in the right corner of the end zone, but the senior quarterback threw the ball behind his receiver and Utah cornerback Conroy Black jumped in front of it to make the interception, sucking away the Wildcats hopes for the game and the season.

“I just made a bad throw. I sort of did a back shoulder sort of look and it just wasn’t a good ball,” Foles said. “I didn’t execute well at the end and we didn’t execute well as an offense for most of the game.”

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In terms of yardage, it’s hard to tell how much Foles has been struggling the last two weeks, as he has thrown for 714 yards and four scores against Washington and Utah. But poor decision-making from Arizona’s quarterback has the team officially eliminated from bowl contention following the 34-21 loss to Utah on Saturday.

“It’s been pretty tough,” Foles said. “You have times like this but you fight through them. But you learn a lot about your teammates and who’s really there for you through the tough times.”

The quarterback’s struggles are not the only reason the team has lost, as special teams miscues and defensive mistakes have proven costly. Foles certainly has not helped the cause as of late.

After throwing three interceptions against Washington last week and two this week, Foles has reached what might just be his worst stretch of his career.

Statistically speaking, the Utah game was Foles’ worst since last year’s Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State, when he threw for 280 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Against Utah, Foles went 25-for-43 with 326 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His 58.1 completion percentage was the worst of the year for the senior. Over the last two weeks, Foles has now thrown five interceptions and only four touchdowns. Prior to the Washington game, he had thrown for five interceptions on the season and just once, against Oregon State, did he throw for more interceptions than touchdowns in a game.

“It hasn’t really worked out the last two weeks for me,” Foles said. “I’ve thrown some good balls but then I thought the throw in the end zone was bad and I thought the first pick was a bad decision by me. That’s stuff I’ve got to get rid of.

“That’s part of the game, you grow. It’s tough though, you have growing pains.”

Despite his recent struggles, Foles has been nothing short of spectacular overall for the Wildcats over the course of the season. At the helm of a struggling 2-7-football team, Foles has thrown for 3,260 yards, good for third in the nation. His late-season struggles may have been costly, but no one on the team is blaming him for their elimination.

“Nick Foles is a tremendous competitor and if he could take back a couple of those throws he made tonight, I’m sure he would like to do that,” said interim head coach Tim Kish. “He gives us his best effort on every play so I don’t know how he would respond to that but I just know he wants to win and help this team win any way he can.”

Senior wide out David Douglas, who had a career day with ten receptions, 156 receiving yards and two scores, had nothing but good things to say about his quarterback after the game.

“He’s definitely one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever met. He’s played the game long enough — it’s his senior year, third year starting — and he’s a mature guy,” Douglas said. “He knows what to expect and he prepares.

“Knowing what to expect — if you prepare yourself for the game, you’re going to be fine, and he prepares himself better than anybody.”

Freshman back suspended for first-half

Halfback Ka’Deem Carey was curiously missing for the first half of the game. According to head coach Tim Kish, the freshman was suspended for violating team policy. Specific reasons for his suspension were unclear, but Kish said Carey recognizes he made a mistake.

“You know what Ka’Deem and I talked and he’d be the first one to admit that he’s disappointed in himself so again its one of those lessons that needed to be learned and I would expect Ka’Deem not to make the same mistake again,” Kish said.

In the second half, Carey gained 30 yards on five carries.


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Updated December 8, 2021