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Arizona-Oklahoma State: The good and the bad for the Wildcats

It's been this kind of season of cornerback Shaquille Richardson, not exactly in position to tackle Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle. Photo by Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

There was more bad than good in the Arizona Wildcats’ 37-14 loss at Oklahoma State on Thursday night. Let’s take a look:

Bad: Oklahoma State has attempted 94 passes in the past two games against Arizona, and the only sack the Wildcats registered came Thursday night when Brandon Weeden tripped and fell, tackling himself.

Arizona’s inability to get a sack on its own can be partly attributed to how quickly the Cowboys get rid of the ball, but some of it is just lack of pressure against a good offensive line.

Good: Wide receiver Dan Buckner led the Wildcats with 10 catches for 142 yards, both career highs. He shook himself free down the sideline on a stop-and-go pattern for a 54-yard touchdown.

“Dan showed up, and that was a positive sign,” coach Mike Stoops said. Buckner, a junior, made 42 catches with the Texas Longhorns in 2009 before transferring to Arizona.

Bad: Arizona has lost all eight of its road games against top 10 teams under Stoops.

Worse: Those eight losses have been by a combined score of 328-133.

Good: Redshirt freshman receiver Austin Hill made his first career start because of Juron Criner’s absence, coming up with eight catches for 128 yards. He has a bright future and is one of the reasons why the receiving corps looks good beyond 2011 after seniors Criner, David Douglas and David Roberts depart.

Bad: In its six-game losing streak against Football Bowl Subdivision competition, Arizona has allowed 1,202 rushing yards — 200 per game — emblematic of how the Cats have been pushed around physically. With games against Stanford and Oregon next, that average, sadly, could very well increase.

Bad: That six-game skid has all been televised on the ESPN family of networks, not the kind of exposure the Cats had in mind.

Bad: Arizona ran 21 times for 41 yards against Oklahoma State, and, for the second consecutive game, didn’t use true freshman running back Ka’Deem Carey until the fourth quarter. Stoops said starting running back Keola Antolin isn’t the problem. “We have to block for him,” he said.

Good: Jaime Salazar made both of his extra-point attempts and didn’t attempt a field goal, so at least we won’t be talking about the kicking game heading into the Stanford game on Sept. 17.

Bad: The opposing team successfully targeted sophomore cornerback Shaquille Richardson for the second game in a row. Richardson was beaten twice on fade patterns for touchdowns by Justin Blackmon — which is no great crime, considering Blackmon is the best in the college biz — but it just added to the season of lowlights that must be eating into Richardson’s confidence.

Bad: We question these decisions: Not electing to receive the opening kickoff after winning the coin toss, not playing Carey until the fourth quarter and letting Nick Foles drop back to pass with about a minute to go, when he took a shot to his left knee. (Seems like no harm done on that last thing, but still.)

Good: Foles is moving nicely around the pocket this season; Oklahoma State sacked him only once. Foles went 37 of 51 for 398 yards and one touchdown, and he has not thrown an interception in 93 attempts this season.

“We are very impressed with him,” Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young was quoted as saying in the Daily Oklahoman. “He did a tremendous job of checking into the right plays. They’re gonna score a lot of points on a lot of people.”

Bad: Arizona’s defense has created only four turnovers in the team’s six-game losing streak to FBS teams. Time to get more aggressive?

Bad: Arizona had five false start penalties Thursday night in the first true road start for the entire starting offensive line. Growing pains, folks. Growing pains.


Arizona’s loss to Oklahoma State another example of failing to compete

Game blog: Running game is ‘our nemesis,’ Stoops says

Juron Criner underwent appendectomy, eyes return for Stanford on Sept. 17

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