Why the doom and gloom? UA still in control of Pac-10 raceby Anthony Gimino on Nov. 14, 2009, under Sports
Arizona football fans have been conditioned to expect the worse, and Saturday’s 24-16 loss at Cal is a reminder of the recurring nightmare.
Some of the stuff that haunts UA fans is hard to dream up.
Arizona lost at Washington this season on a once-in-a-lifetime interception that bounced off the foot of a receiver (actually, it bounced off the grass, but the refs missed it). And, now, on Saturday, Arizona lost at Cal 24-16, in part because quarterback Nick Foles caught his own batted pass and attempted another throw, which is a no-no.
You can’t have two forward passes on the same play.
So, Arizona ended up going from third-and-3 at the Oregon 25 — at worst in reasonable (if uncomfortable) field goal range for Alex Zendejas — to fourth-and-17 from the 42. Foles’ fourth-down pass was incomplete.
“You talk about two crazy ways to lose. Those are tough,” coach Mike Stoops said on the postgame radio show. “It’s crazy.”
After turning the ball over on downs, Cal’s Shane Vereen broke off a 61-yard touchdown run, but the Bears flubbed the extra point, keeping the margin within one score at 24-16. Alas, there would be no last-minute miracle from the UA offense.
Yes, Arizona played poorly. The offense was out of rhythm. Was it shoddy coaching and lousy play-calling? Or was Cal’s defensive front simply able to control the running game while keeping extra personnel to defend the pass … making it hard for Arizona to have success either way?
Whatever the case, here’s the upshot of the loss:
Before the game, Arizona controlled its own fate in the Rose Bowl race.
After the game, Arizona still controls its own fate in the Rose Bowl race.
With a little less margin of error, the Wildcats can still go to their first Rose Bowl if they win their final three games — vs. Oregon next Saturday, at Arizona State (Nov. 28) and at USC (Dec. 5).
It starts against the Ducks in what will be the most important home game Arizona has ever played this late in the season. By the end of this week, excitement should overcome the fans’ bitter reaction to the Cal loss.
Postgame comments from our partner wildaboutazcats.com:
mikey: “Two words. Sean Miller. Bandwagon member signing off.”
AzTransplant: “Shame on us for getting excited about UA football. Same old, same old.”
Phxcatfan Says: “We played terrible. I am embarrassed to have Sonny Dykes as a coordinator tonight. This game should not have been close. I still don’t understand why we didn’t run our best play the entire night. I think we get blown out next week. My best guess is emerald bowl.”
AzGood: “Been here, done this. I’m telling you, this team, this program can’t stand success. Doesn’t know how to handle it. What if? will be the call of the Wildcats, I guess. Oh well.”
That was very representative of the entire mood.
But it’s too early — way too early — to write the epitaph. The season still hangs in the balance. This could either be the most memorable football season in Arizona history or it could be the one you most want to forget.
Arizona is good enough on its good days to win each of the remaining games.
Arizona is bad enough on its bad days to lose each of the remaining games.
I have no idea what will happen, although I do know if the Wildcats play like this against Oregon, they will lose.
But the Cal game is a predictor of nothing. As Stoops has been saying, each game is a different season. Different matchups. Different emotions. Different crowd. Different vibe.
Performance varies wildly from week to week. It just does. I can’t explain why, other than to say these are 18-to-22-year-old college kids whose performance is something short of consistent.
That might not be so noticeable on elite teams such as Florida, Alabama or Texas, but it shows up every week among the teams that are in the “average to above average” category — which is where Arizona has lived in the past couple of years.
Fact is, the Wildcats will go into Saturday, Nov. 21, needing help from no one to win the Pac-10.
The last time that happened was … never.
Forget Cal. It was a loss, on the road, to a team that was slightly favored, to a team that was Top 25 timber as recently as last week. You have to give the Bears a little bit of credit. Arizona played poorly … and it still took a freaky play at the end to help turn back the Wildcats.
This is no time for crying, no time to take a flying leap off the bandwagon.
I have said for years that the local fan base deserves all kind of praise for blindly sticking by Stoops through some tough seasons.
This week is the reward for all that loyalty — a home game in late November with the frickin’ Rose Bowl still in play.
Don’t bail now because of one loss.
“Anything is possible,” Stoops said.
And so is everything.
Related: UA-Cal postgame quotes