When a football team loses, there are usually multiple reasons why. A team effort.
And when a team loses five games in a row, like Arizona did to end last season, nobody can escape blame.
Quarterback Nick Foles has to take responsibility for the offense’s “lulls,” as coach Mike Stoops called them this week.
“I think that it is important that Nick doesn’t have lulls in a game that go beyond a series,” he said.
“That is critical for us. You go two series, three series, and nothing is happening … we can’t have that. And I think in big games we had that at time, where we struggled to keep our consistency.
“We just weren’t in rhythm, and the quarterback plays a big part in that. He’s got to find a play. You can’t go three-and-out, three-and-out, back to back. You lose a lot of momentum.”
Foles, through his first 5 1/2 games (before his knee injury), had just a couple of valleys, the most notable being the scoreless first half against Cal. A late touchdown drive saved the day in a 10-9 victory.
When Foles returned to the field, and the competition stiffened significantly, each game had one of those lulls. Let’s take a look:
Stanford (L, 42-17) — In the middle of the game, Arizona had a three-and-out, threw an interception and gained 4 yards in six plays. The Wildcats, who had a chance to keep things close, eventually lost touch with the Cardinal.
USC (L, 24-21) — Arizona’s first four possessions of the second half: fumble, six-play series, three-and-out, three-and-out.
Oregon (L, 48-29) — The Cats scored three points on their first five possessions of the second half. Arizona led 19-14 at the half, then trailed 48-22 after those five possessions.
ASU (L, 30-29) — Arizona was scoreless in the first half despite eight full possessions. Six of those were three-and-outs.
Oklahoma State (L, 36-10) — With an early failure on fourth-and-5, three interceptions and two missed field goals, the offense was never in rhythm.
“Obviously, other guys have to make plays, too,” Stoops said of the disappearing offense. “(Foles) can’t make them all. But we cannot afford that in the conference and with the schedule that we play this year.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 11th installment of our 24 Hours of Arizona Football Blogging — one post at the top of every hour. Keep checking back at TucsonCitizen.com through Friday at 11 a.m. or follow the entire series with the “24 hours of blogging” tag.