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Arizona football notes: Kicking issues, first-down woes, Foles’ streak

Jaime Salazar makes a 27-yard field goal against Stanford; he has three misses. Photo by Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

When Arizona misses a field goal these days, it isn’t just a missed opportunity for three points. It’s cause for eye-rolling, head-shaking, first-pounding and feelings of, “Here we go again.”

The UA is 1 of 5 on field goal attempts this season, including a bad snap that sailed past holder Kyle Dugandzic. Jaime Salazar has missed three times, including from 45 yards on the final play of the first half and 36 yards at the start of the second half.

Those kicks would have tied the game at 16.

“Those are points we need,” said quarterback Nick Foles. “It’s like missing a wide-open layup. You’ve got to get those points. We have to figure that out. For us to be successful, we have to be successful in all sides of the ball.”

Salazar has squandered any trust the coaches had in him after he won the job in fall camp, although he was far from brilliant in practices and scrimmages. Coach Mike Stoops indicated after the game that former starter Alex Zendejas would have to be considered again, although that situation likely will play out in practice this week.

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This week’s opponent, Oregon, moved up to No. 10 in the AP poll this week, giving Arizona the pleasure of having to play three consecutive Top 10 teams. Oklahoma State was No. 9 at the time of the game, and Stanford was No. 6 last week.

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Stoops said after the game that “our inability to move the ball consistently goes back to first down.”

The stats back him up.

According to cfbstats.com, the Wildcats are averaging 2.5 yards per rush on first down — and that includes a 31-yard run. Take away that, and UA has 31 carries for 49 yards on first down.

On the other hand, Arizona has completed 44 of 56 passes for 501 yards on first down.

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Senior cornerback Trevin Wade, who broke up three passes against Stanford, said this about quarterback Andrew Luck:

“He’s not afraid to make the throw one-on-one, and he doesn’t make any mistakes. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a nice guy. He has good character. He was coming at me, and I was like, ‘There’s nothing easy over here. It is just good competition.”

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Oregon begins as a 14- to 15-point favorite for Saturday’s game at Arizona.

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Foles has thrown 126 passes this season without an interception, and the streak reaches 143, dating to last season.

The UA in-season record for consecutive passes without an interception is 128, set by Bruce Hill in 1975 and tied by Keith Smith in 1996. Without further research, the school does not have a record that spans seasons.

Foles completed 17 consecutive passes against Stanford. Arizona doesn’t list a record for that, but a school official said Sunday that

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Foles on Stanford’s defense: “They’re really physical and they’re good at stopping the run. Every time you deliver a ball, they are going to try to get a blow on you. You have to respect that defense.”

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