A failed fake field goal at the end of Arizona’s first drive was curious for timing and its execution.
The Wildcats tried to pull it off on fourth-and-12 from the Utah after a delay of game. That’s a long way to go for a fake field goal.
What’s more, a week earlier, interim head coach Tim Kish talked about how important he thought it was to come away with three points on the team’s opening drive at Washington. John Bonano kicked a 36-yard field goal on fourth-and-2.
This time, Kish went for a fake, needing 12 yards, at nearly the identical spot on the field.
If anything, getting three points was more important against Utah than Washington because the Utes have the better defense.
But, during Arizona’s scouting, the coaches thought they could exploit something on Utah’s kick-block team.
“They come hard, hard, hard off the edge,” Kish said after a 34-21 loss to Utah on Saturday night.
“We knew if they did that, that thing would be wide open. But, unfortunately, in that particular case for whatever reason — I don’t know if they sniffed something or what — they played coverage on our wings and the guy just shot through there and foiled our attempt.”
What happened was holder Kyle Dugandzic took the snap and flipped it to Bonano, running to his right. Perhaps he would have had room to run for the first down, or even a touchdown, if the Utes had been charging off the edge.
But they didn’t … and Arizona’s game was off to a frustrating start.
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Senior receiver David Douglas caught 10 passes for a career-high 154 yards and two touchdowns, including a pretty over-the-head 23-yard reception just inside the left boundary of the end zone.
That diving effort claimed the No. 2 on SportsCenter’s Plays of the Day.
Douglas’ previous career high was 120 yards against Oregon earlier this season.
He ended up playing more outside receiver than in the slot against Douglas because of injuries. Dan Buckner, bothered by a separated shoulder from last week, played briefly. Juron Criner also was missing late in the game.
“He can play any position,” quarterback Nick Foles said of Douglas.
“(The Utes) like to clog the middle, so you try to work the outside a little bit, and he showed what he can do. He’s a player.”
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Foles, who already holds the school record for completions, will soon be awash in other school and conference passing records. But the past two weeks have not been his finest.
He threw two interceptions Saturday, giving him five for the past two weeks. He often was under pressure from the Utah defense, forced to scramble. Foles credited Utah with constantly changing its defensive looks.
“They were moving around a lot, mixing up coverages, bringing guys in the box, moving guys out,” Foles said. “They busted out almost every single coverage there is.
“It was never the same. They never stood in something. They would always show something and change it.”
Foles was 25 of 43 for 326 yards and two touchdowns.
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True freshman Ka’Deem Carey did not play in the first half because of an unspecified violation of team rules.
“Ka’Deem and I talked and he would be the first to tell you he’s disappointed in himself,” Kish said. “It’s one of those lessons that needed to be learned, and I expect Ka’Deem to not make the same mistake again.”
Carey played in the second half, rushing five times for 30 yards. He also had one kick return of 11 yards.
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Arizona has senior Trevin Wade at right cornerback. On the left side, the Cats were without Jonathan McKnight (ACL), Shaquille Richardson (ankle) and Cortez Johnson (concussion).
Down to its fifth-best cornerback, Arizona slid over nickel back Jourdon Grandon to start the game and went to Lyle Brown to start the second half.
Grandon, slipped, fell and recovered but still gave up a 65-yard score to DeVonte Christopher in the second quarter. Brown was beaten badly in man coverage and let Reggie Dunn run free for a 44-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Kish said his defense played more man coverage than usual and was more aggressive up front as it tried to get inexperienced Utah quarterback Jon Hayes to get rid of the ball quickly.
“I probably didn’t do as good a job as coordinator giving them help and playing some Cover 2 over the top, just to give them some extra safety help,” Kish said of Grandon and Brown.
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Sophomore Daniel Jenkins rushed six times for a career-high 59 yards, which included a 29-yard touchdown run in the final minute, showing quick cutting ability. “It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said of the run, given that it came too late to do the team any good. … For the second time in three games, true freshman Tramayne Bondurant led the team in tackle from his hybrid nickel back/linebacker position. He had eight stops vs. Utah. … Former Arizona basketball All-American Derrick Williams attended the game from the Zona Zoo student section and was shown on the videoboard at the stadium.