Winning

October 29, 2007

(UA 48, at Washington 41)


Hey guys, what’s new?

Well, this winning thing for one.

So is this the start of a run like last year, or is this Stoops’ version of Mackovic’s win at Cal in 2002 or Hankwitz’s win against this same Husky team in 2003?

You know what? I don’t care at this point. Let’s worry about that another time. This is a week to celebrate the team not giving up on their coaches or each other. This is a week to acknowledge the individuals who stepped forward and made winning plays in a winning performance.

It was great to see the offense bounce back with a touchdown drive immediately after falling behind by 15 in the fourth quarter. It was beautiful to see Spencer Larsen pounce on a fumble on UW’s next possession. It was outstanding to see the offense capitalize on the short field and punch it in (plus two) to tie the game. Then, after letting the Huskies convert 9 of their first 12 third downs, the defense came through when Michael Klyce managed to break up a pass on 3rd and 7 to get the ball back.

Willie Tuitama completed his final 11 passes, 12 if you count the two-point conversion. On that game-winning 80-yard drive he converted two 3rd and 4s, a 2nd and 8, and the touchdown came on 3rd and 7. Add Antoine Cason’s interception to seal the deal and it was a little bit of redemption for a team that sure needed to be redeemed.

Now we know how His NateNess allegedly returned eight interceptions for touchdowns in two years of junior college ball. He was breaking tackles and making moves even after losing his shoe. Fear the Nate Ness Monster.

GRONK!

What did I tell you about white jerseys and blue pants? That’s 3-1 now over the past two years. Someone needs to break into the laundry room and make sure the white pants don’t make the trip to Tempe.

When Willie threw scoring strike #5 we finally got that embarrassingly-low single season touchdown pass record off the books. When you play in a conference known for its point-scoring prowess you shouldn’t have a high-profile passing record last for 40 years. So, sorry, Marc Reed, your four decades in the sun are over.

More reminders at how new this passing stuff is for Arizona football: After nine games Willie Tuitama has completed more passes than any previous UA QB in a single season. His school-record 510 passing yards against the Huskies vaulted him to second on the single-season yards list with 2,803 (behind only Jason Johnson’s 3,327 in 2002. So if we played Washington again Willie could break the record next week). The best part of Tuitama’s performance was he completed a season-high 74.5% of his passes. When you throw TD passes of 66, 51, 33 and 27, and you still complete ¾ of your throws, you’re having yourself a day.

Mike Thomas is now the 5th UA player to go over 2,000 career receiving yards, 4th on the single-season receptions list, 3rd on the career receptions chart, 2nd on the single-season touchdown catch list, and 1st among exuberant two-point conversion celebrations.

TuiThomas. WIDE open in Seattle from 7 to 10.

Did it feel strange to see our team come from behind in the 4th quarter? It should have, because it never happens. This was only the second time in the Stoops era that the UA won a game it trailed after three quarters (Cal last year was the other). It was the first time the Stoops’ Cats have ever won a game in which they trailed by more than one possession entering the final period. We were 1-22 when behind at the start of the 4th quarter the last four years before Saturday. So, yeah, don’t feel too guilty about thinking the game was over.

If you’re trying to put your finger on what’s different about this year compared to last year, this 4th quarter data is a great place to start. Heading into this season Mike Stoops was 11-3 when taking a lead into the 4th quarter, including 5-0 last year. This year we’re only 2-2 after losing leads at USC (13-10) and against Stanford (20-14). Last year’s Wildcats were 3-1 when the game was within one score after three quarters, and this year’s team is 0-2. In other words, it was a pretty big deal to win the game in the final frame. Now we have to try and do it again.

(Can’t get enough of sports number-crunching? I put the raw research data at the bottom for your viewing pleasure.)

In the grand scheme of things this doesn’t change a whole lot. We’re still clearly no better than 8th place, ahead of the Washington schools and behind Stanford. Our easiest games this year according to the Sagarin computer rankings were NAU (#158), WSU (#81), the Red/Blue scrimmage (#76), Stanford (#67), Washington (#64), and New Mexico (#53). Our final three opponents, UCLA (#34), Oregon (#5) and ASU (#3), are a slight step up in competition.

However - I hate to do this to you, I really do - we’re only a half game back in the Whacked-5 standings. Oregon State was called up to the varsity and has been replaced by Cal and their three-game losing streak.

1. Cal 2-3 / 5-3
2t. Stan 2-4 / 3-5
2t. ARIZ 2-4 / 3-6
4. WSU 1-4 / 3-5
5. Wash 0-5 / 2-6

(Whatever you do, do not recalculate the records to see what things would look like if we won the Stanford game. Just don’t do it to yourself.)

The in-conference portion of our schedule is complete and we finished 2-2 against the Whacked with wins against the teams below us and losses to the teams up front. A couple big mini-league matchups are set for this weekend with Washington playing at Stanford and Cal hosting WSU. Root for the Apple Staters to beat the Bays…if you have any hope left to get up.

Bring on the Bruins. Bring on Dan Fouts and ABC TV. Do we have some Homecoming magic in store for the third year in a row?

Come on home and let’s find out.


--

Mike Stoops in the 4th quarter
2004
Record when leading after three quarters: 3-2
When trailing or tied: 0-6
With a one-possession lead: 1-2
Tied or trailing by one possession: 0-0
(lost 7-0 lead vs Wisconsin, lost 13-7 lead vs WSU)

2005
When leading: 3-1
When trailing or tied: 0-6
With a one-poss. lead: 0-1
Tied or trailing by one-poss.: 0-3
(lost 20-12 lead at ASU)

2006
When leading: 5-0
When trailing or tied: 1-6
With a one-poss. lead: 2-0
Tied or trailing by one-poss.: 1-1
(overcame 17-10 deficit vs Cal)

2007
When leading: 2-2
When trailing or tied: 1-4
With a one-poss. lead: 0-2
Tied or trailing by one-poss.: 0-0
(lost 13-10 lead at USC, lost 20-14 lead vs Stan)



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