Bear Necessities: Arizona Wildcats fan behavior, the Cal win and Nick Folesby Scott Terrell on Sep. 29, 2010, under Sports
You know what’s exciting? Conference rankings that shuffle every week. Some teams making huge jumps while others plummet to the depths.
We don’t have any of that here.
All three of the favorites are 1-0. Each of the 0-1 teams was projected for the middle of the Pac or worse. Here are your boring rankings of the league contenders:
4. Oregon State
5. Arizona State
X. Washington State
Let me save you the trouble:
How can UCLA still be eliminated?! Didn’t you see them manhandle THE University of Texas, in Tejas???!?!?
The Bruins certainly didn’t take too kindly to getting crossed off the list. They did the conference proud by rising from the dead to beat a ranked team in consecutive weeks. The rest of the league will have to take them seriously and they’re very much in the running for their second straight bowl game.
But the Survivor Rankings are a different beast. Once your torch is snuffed you have to leave the island and you can’t come back. Besides, I’m going to go out on a limb and say 27 passing yards won’t get it done against the rest of the Pac-10.
So, yeah, the only change in the rankings is flip-flopping Washington and Cal. I would pick the Bears in a head-to-head matchup but UW gets the slight bump since they haven’t had the opportunity to lose a conference game yet.
Fear not, the heart of the Pac-10 season is upon us and we’ll start to see some real movement in the rankings as teams outwit their competition, outplay the preseason predictions and outlast the pretenders.
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Last Saturday was a very interesting night for the fans in the “Red Zone” section of Arizona Stadium. All week the talk had been of YouTube videos and ESPN screenshots contributing to the UA’s growing reputation as an overly-hostile fan base.
During the pregame warm-ups a tall man in an Arizona polo shirt came up into the bleachers. The whispers quickly spread identifying him as UA athletic director Greg Byrne. It was as if the principal had walked into the classroom.
But Byrne didn’t come to scold people or give a lecture. He casually made his way through the section, introducing himself, shaking hands and talking Wildcat sports. He thanked the individual fans for their support then politely asked that people keep things under control. It was a very personal gesture that is going to be far more effective than adding a few more P.A. announcements.
The night ended with the thrilling comeback and the Red Zone being a part of the spontaneous victory lap around the stadium by some of the players. Paul Vassallo capped it off with the Arizona version of the Lambeau Leap (the Bear Down Bound?).
Not a bad evening for the folks in the cheap seats.
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Did someone say “thrilling comeback”? Time to update the list:
Nick Foles’ Potential Game-Winning Drives
|Stanford||5:27||5||TD (Grigsby 57 yard run)||W|
|Cal||1:21||8||sack on 4th down||L|
|ASU||2:02||tied||3-and-out (followed by muffed punt)||W|
Success rate up to 57% with a 5-2 team record. Uh huh.
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I do have to admit I’m not a fan of Foles’ left-handed throws and blind flings toward the sideline to try and avoid sacks. If the pressure gets there and you can’t make a standard throw the primary objective is to secure the ball.
Is righthandedfoles4heisman.com available?
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Five out of six for the red jerseys! A winning 4-3 record for red-on-red! Fear the striped white helmets with the white facemasks!!
Oh, and Cal wore a uniform combination in which they were 0-2. Now they’re 0-3.
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There was a distinct lack of rhythm from the Arizona offense for 57.5 minutes Saturday night. The strange hockey-style changes to the lineup couldn’t have helped. On one play you would have the starting skill position guys in and then the next there would be a whole set of guys that had fans reaching for their program. Richard Morrison (#14), Gino Crump (#21) and Terrence Miller (#87) were all on the field at the same time.
I understand the need to get reps for inexperienced guys but you’re supposed to be creating confusion among the defense, not your own players. The personnel changes were often late in the play clock, some players didn’t know where to line up, and then you had the “illegal substitution infraction” (the offense breaking the huddle with 12 men on the field). I think the wholesale receiver swapping needs to be sent to the sideline.
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Cal’s Oski, my favorite of the visiting Pac-10 mascots, was conspicuously absent against the Cats. His appearance and behavior are like that of the inappropriate old uncle who makes Thanksgiving so entertaining.
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Lost in the madness of the comeback was Mike Stoops’ curious decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 from his own 44 with 1:49 left in the 2nd quarter and Cal up 6-0. Nic Grigsby eluded two defenders in the backfield, picked up the first down and the UA was able to hold the ball the rest of the half (with Foles throwing the deflected interception in the end zone). Fail on that 4th down gamble, fall behind 13-0 and it could have been a whole different ballgame.
On the flip side Stoops gets full credit for taking his timeouts to preserve time before the (second) missed field goal. He was either telling his players, “Don’t worry, they’re going to miss this!” or “We’ve got the best onside kick play in all the land!”
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That’s two straight games where a missed kick at the end swayed things in Arizona’s favor. But before you write off the wins as sheer luck think back to the 2008 Oregon State game where the Beaver kicker missed the game-tying extra point only to end up kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired.
You know what they say: When you get the gift shank, you still have to take it to the bank.