Three big plays from Arizona's loss to Oregon

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Madeleine Viceconte | The Daily Wildcat

Khalil Tate gets ready to pass the ball during the second quarter of the Southern Utah vs. Arizona football game at the Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 15. 

Arizona football dropped its fifth consecutive game of the season to the Oregon Ducks on Saturday night. Beat reporter Austin Wales took a look at some of the biggest plays from the third-to-last game of the year.

Justin Herbert’s 73-yard touchdown to Johnny Johnson III:

Talk about a terrible start for Arizona’s defense. Only 25 seconds into the game, Oregon's Justin Herbert dropped back in the shotgun, faked a handoff to C.J. Verdell, then threw it to a wide-open Johnny Johnson III who was streaking down the right sideline.

Before the play started, Christian Roland-Wallace and Jace Whittaker were on Johnson III and Juwan Johnson on the right sideline. Johnson III simply did a go-route, where he just ran straight and it looked as if Whittaker thought Roland-Wallace was going to be dropping back with Johnson III, but Roland-Wallace thought the same for Whittaker.

Before Herbert found Johnson III deep he pump-faked to Juwan Johnson, which both Roland-Wallace and Whittaker bit on. This communication was likely because Whittaker must’ve thought it was a Cover 3, where the corner drops with the receiver, but Roland-Wallace must’ve thought it was a Cover 2 because he dropped into the flats, leaving Johnson III wide open. This isn’t the first time this miscommunication has hurt the Wildcats, as we saw it hurt them against USC and Kedon Slovis as well.

Herbert’s 53-yard flea-flicker touchdown to Juwan Johnson:

With 5:20 left in the second quarter, the Ducks had a first and 10 from their own 47-yard line. Herbert had Verdell to his left in the shotgun, snapped the ball and handed it off to Verdell, who then sprinted toward the right sideline where he then flipped it to Jaylon Redd, who was running toward Herbert.

Redd then ran the ball back to Herbert and flipped it to him. Herbert then threw it 53 yards to find Juwan Johnson, who was beating Roland-Wallace by 2-3 steps. To diagnose this play after it happened: After the handoff, safety Christian Young saw the run, committed to it and went up to fill for the run. This now left Roland-Wallace with no help over the top against Johnson and in man coverage.

After the first hand-off, Roland-Wallace turned to look back at Herbert, where he lost awareness of where Johnson was, and this was where the senior receiver Johnson took advantage of the true freshman. Johnson continued running his route hard and Herbert placed it perfectly on the money, hitting Johnson in stride right into the endzone.

RELATED: Arizona football's bowl game chances come down to last two games after loss to Oregon

Herbert’s 24-yard strike to Spencer Webb:

Now with 7:39 left in the third quarter, Oregon was up 21-6. Oregon started on Arizona’s 41-yard line, and after three runs by Travis Dye they were at Arizona’s 24-yard line. Before the snap, tight end Spencer Webb was lined up behind the tackle Penei Sewell, with Juwan Johnson on the boundary side of the field, closest to the sideline. 

Upon the snap, Herbert faked a screen pass to Dye to the right side of the field, which froze safety Scottie Young Jr. Johnson took a jab step forward, then looked back at Herbert as he was doing a screen route. This held corner Roland-Wallace, which left Tony Fields II one-on-one with Webb, who was doing a wheel route down the left sideline. Fields was late getting into coverage as he read the screen pass first, but he made good ground and played Webb well on the sideline.

It was Herbert’s throw that got Webb open as he threw it over the back shoulder of Fields and right where the 6-foot-6 tight end could get it. Webb made a great catch on the sideline, then took a shot from Young, but Webb hung on for the 24-yard touchdown to put the Ducks up 28-6.


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