The effort was there at the beginning of the game for Arizona, but once the Christian McCaffrey levy broke, there was no way it could stop the flood of points that came en route to a 34-10 Homecoming loss to the Cardinal on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.
Like most of the season, the Wildcat defense couldn’t generate enough stops, nor create turnovers to keep Stanford at bay. Even when Arizona could force a turnover—when defensive back Dane Cruikshank intercepted a Keller Chryst throw in the second quarter—Arizona gave it right back when Cruikshank immediately fumbled and Stanford recovered.
It was that kind of night for the depleted Wildcats who have been riddled with injuries on both sides of the ball and are just not deep enough talent wise to withstand the abuse of Pac-12 Conference play.
This week's beating came in the form of McCaffrey. A Heisman frontrunner coming into the season, McCaffrey has been susceptible to injuries on the Stanford offensive line and hasn’t been the same running back that set college football on fire last year. But facing the Wildcats defense was just what the doctor ordered for McCaffrey as he scored the first two touchdowns of the game and essentially put no doubt as to who would win the contest early on.
“I give us a ‘D’,” Arizona saftey Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles said about the defense's containment of McCaffrey. “Overall, we wanted to win and we didn’t win.”
McCaffrey ended up with 169 yards on 23 carries to go along with 27 yards on four catches and a combined three touchdowns. Simply put, there just isn’t enough talent to come close to corralling a player like him.
It won’t get any easier for the defense as it heads to Pullman, Washington to face the aerial attack of the Washington State Cougars, a task that seems to be all too mighty for the D-line at this point.
“I usually just talk about what’s next,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I’ve got a lot of guys in that locker room that give a crap about what we are doing.”
The Wildcats have four games remaining on the schedule, the team hasn’t given up, but its’ spirit and joy for football seemingly has.
Turnovers are the only way that Arizona is going to find a way to win a game. The pressure the defense faces is much more than from the fans or coaches; it is the result of having to try and carry the team to victory without having the personnel to do it—at this point, a seemingly unachievable task.
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