Who do the Cats want to be on offense?by Anthony Gimino on Sep. 21, 2009, under Sports
So, Arizona lost at Iowa. There’s no shame in that. The problem was that the Wildcats came home with a bagful of questions bigger than the one they took to Iowa City.
The offensive line, praised by coach Mike Stoops last week as “one of the most consistent groups we have right now,” created little push for the running game. The defense forgot how to tackle on occasion and failed at critical times to make key stops (you know, like on third-and-23).
Think of it this way: Arizona gave up 27 points and got shoved around by an Iowa offense that didn’t have, for various reasons, its best offensive lineman (Bryan Bulaga), starting tight end Tony Moeaki (ankle) and most productive wide receiver (Derrell Johnson-Koulianos).
UA special teams failed to convert a fake field goal, the coaching staff appears to have little faith in kicker Alex Zendejas, and punter Keenyn Crier, who has an All-American leg, looked more like a rookie walk-on.
The Cats have no one who can approximate what tight end Rob Gronkowski, out for the season, would have done for the passing game.
“The great thing about the loss is that it was kind of a team debacle in some ways,” Stoops said in his postgame radio interview. “It was offense, defense and special teams.”
So, at least there won’t be any finger-pointing among the players.
OK, so I buried the lead here, because I’m just now mentioning the quarterback situation.
The three non-conference games were supposed to lay the track for the rest of the season at quarterback. Heading into this week’s league opener at Oregon State, the Cats are off the rails.
Arizona supposedly spent several months not knowing if it wanted to pick Matt Scott or Nick Foles, but once the season started coaches went all in with Scott, taking a sink-or-swim approach in the first three games.
Now that he needs a life-preserver, the timing is all wrong to make a change.
Of course, the timing might be wrong to NOT make a change.
Scott hasn’t shown the passing chops to handle a good defense — like Iowa’s, like the kind he would see nearly every week in the Pac-10 . Maybe he will show it. Maybe Iowa was just a bad game. But his interception — when he tossed a rainbow up for grabs deep down the middle of the field … well, I’ll let the guy who picked it off, Iowa’s Tyler Sash, describe it:
“He hung it up there like a punt kind of,” Sash said.
Scott was 4 of 14 for 50 yards.
Nick Foles played the fourth quarter and was 6 of 11 for 55 yards and a touchdown.
The coaches like Scott because of his running ability. I get that. Then let him run.
Meanwhile, Arizona is stuck in offense purgatory.
The Wildcats are clearly not pass-crazy like Texas Tech, which was the plan when coordinator Sonny Dykes was hired after the 2006 season. Arizona wants more balance.
On the other hand, the Wildcats aren’t willing to hang their hat on the quarterback run game and start running a lot of read-option plays. Arizona wants … uh, balance?
If the coaches aren’t going to have Scott run, then play Foles, who sure appears more capable of flinging the ball all over the field.
The coaches have to figure out which part of the playbook they want to use … and then they can pick a quarterback.
Right now, the Cats are who most of us thought they were: A solid team with a really big question at quarterback. It’s just that, by the fourth game, Arizona needed to be somewhere other than at square one at quarterback.