One Game

September 24, 2007

(at Cal 45, UA 27)

Finally a result we expected.

We didn't expect to get outclassed by BYU. We didn't expect to score 45 points against NAU, or give up 24 points for that matter. And no way, no how, did we expect to lose to the New Mexico Lobos on our home field.

But all rational Wildcat fans expected to lose to Cal. A top ten team, playing at home, with a score to settle. Yes, we expected the fight to last past the first round, but it was no surprise to record this L. So I suppose thatís some sort of progress.

It wasnít the happiest Wildcat week but I was still looking forward to the game. I still put on my white Nic-Costa-turned-Willie-Tuitama road jersey. I still cheered my heart out for the Cats. I rooted with such fervor that the TV image burned into my mind and time stood still. Oh wait, that was just Versusí horrendous broadcast.

After the 28-point Bear blitzkrieg we never really got back in the game, but we got back into the front yard, and a couple times we almost got close enough to knock on the door:

-We scored on the fifth play of the second quarter, then Antoine Cason picked off a pass, but Tuitama threw an interception in the end zone.

-On the next possession, still trailing by 18, we got down to the Cal 30, but ran for no gain on 3rd and 3, and then threw an incomplete pass to turn the ball over on downs.

-On the first play of the third quarter senior Peter Graniello committed an 80-yard penalty.

-The ďhighlightĒ came when we scored on the second play of the fourth quarter to cut it to 14 and recovered a fumble at the Cal 21 on the ensuing possession. Completion for no gain, incompletion, six yard completion on 3rd and 10, field goal. Cal flipped the switch back to Devastate, went 74 yards in eight plays for points 39 through 45, and that was that (again).

To make matters worse, I bought a ticket stub on eBay from our first conference championship season in 1935 but when it arrived in the mail it was a Loyola versus San Francisco U. ticket from 1934 instead. Is there no justice?!?

As frustrating as the mistakes may be I am enjoying watching the new offense develop. This week we had the following adjustments:

1. A five-receiver, empty backfield set
Itís just visually confirming what weíve known about our running game all year.

2. Nic Grigsby, starting running back
Itís pretty crazy that we have to turn to a true freshman at tailback in Year 4 of a rebuilding process, but heís clearly the fastest option we have, and speed is what we need.

(By the way, Iím calling him Nic because Iím pretty sure there has never been a stud running back named Nicolas. And thereís no K at the end because it looks faster.)

3. A pass to Earl Mitchell
That makes two on the season, but Earl didnít score this time. Heís slipping. He is however still averaging three points per touch so you may want to try and get it to him more often.

This one I didnít like so much. Unless weíre setting someone up for a deep pass in the near future we should probably disguise it just a bit.

All in all Sonnyís boys put up at least 27 points for the third consecutive game. Itís worth noting we only scored 27 points three times all last year.

As far as the other side of the ballÖdid we bring over the Texas Tech defense too?

I donít even think we got close enough to take pictures of Nateís Long shore. We had been developing some positive sack margin over the past two weeks but we gave it all back with the zero-gained/three-lost performance in Berkeley. The sack ledger is now even on the season and itís getting sweaty and uncomfortable again.

Hereís another needed adjustment: Stop wearing the all-white uniforms. Itís like waving a white flag. 1-4 and counting.

So here we go. You want a dramatic sporting event, weíve got one this weekend. No, itís not a win-and-something-good-happens game, but if we lose, lots of bad stuff happens, and fast.

As we discussed last week Arizona has to win the next two games if the Cats want any chance to improve on last yearís record. Since you canít win both games unless you win the first one, beating Washington State becomes a really big deal. A winning season, a bowl game, progress. It all goes away with a loss this Saturday. And you just donít want to be kissing hope goodbye before the end of September.

I know a lot of you are already restless. But before you gather a mob of peasants and sharpen your pitchforks Iím asking for one more week. It is now a one game season. Win that one and you get another one game season. Itís kind of like March Madness, but for bad teams.

Now would be a good time for our first trick play of the season. Now would be a good time for a surprisingly aggressive defensive strategy. The 2007 Arizona football team has no tomorrow. Backs against the wall, cornered animals, and all that.

Weíll get to see how Stoopsí troops handle a new situation. We know they canít handle prosperity (the Washington loss in 2005). We know they canít handle opportunity (the ASU loss in 2006). Now weíll see how they handle something entirely different.


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