Arizona vs. BYU: Biggest plays, Who shined, What needs improvement

Sep 3, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats running back Nick Wilson (28) celebrates a touchdown against the Brigham Young Cougars during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cougars won 18-16. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats running back Nick Wilson (28) celebrates a touchdown against the Brigham Young Cougars during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cougars won 18-16. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Arizona Football lost their home opener, the first time in the head coach Rich Rodriguez era. He agrees with fans. There is room for improvement.

“We didn’t execute well; it starts with play calling,” Head Coach Rich Rodriguez taking partial blame his first season opener loss in his career at Arizona. Can’t say we would disagree, how many times can you run the ball up the middle? It worked when Anu Solomon read the blitz and Nick Wilson got a break and found a hole to run through to get a touchdown. But that wasn’t until the second half.

“This game’s on me, I gotta step it up; I have to lead better and play better,” Anu taking responsibility for the loss. Well, he’s right, if he had run on that crucial late game third down play or even just fell in place, it would have been better than losing 16 yards. Yes, you want the pass for a touchdown, but more importantly, you don’t want to give up any yardage for a field goal.

The loss of yardage resulted in Arizona’s Kicker Josh Pollack attempting a 52-yard field goal instead of a 36-yard field goal. It was Pollack’s first game for the Wildcats.

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On the defense, most agree, the defense has improved under the new head coaches, and hopefully it’s all uphill from here. “I thought they [defense] played well enough for the majority of the game — a little undersized of course –gave us a chance to win the game — tackling was poor, I was concerned about that,” said Rodriguez, “They played hard, we played hard.”

Most importantly Coach Rod pointed out, “Our guys didn’t look wide-eyed and like totally confused, but there are a lot of reasons we didn’t execute.” Can’t say that about the Trojans this weekend, but then again they were playing the No. 1 2015 National Champs in an away game losing 52-6.

Coach Rod is not wavering on his starting quarterback, “I’ve got 100 percent confidence in Anu Solomon — he battles, he competes — all the way to the last whistle. And that’s why he is an outstanding player. Whatever we need to get fixed we’ll get fixed.”

Biggest Plays

  • Q1 – Referees missed a pass interference call
  • Q1 – Third and about six, Anu was sacked by BYU resulting in a punt
  • Q2 – Third down sack by Lange on BYU defense stops drive coming into the second quarter
  • Q2 – BYU TD called back, Illegal block on BYU, break for Arizona
  • Q2 – Anu Solomon picked off after having a ton of time to pass, maybe should have run the ball?
  • Q2 – Tyrell Johnson‘s kick return best in the first half (33 yards)
  • Q2 – Anu Sacked by BYU, with one second left on the clock, Arizona needed a field goal at least, but may have been pushed too far back.
  • Q3 – Kicker Josh Pollack Field Goal
  • Q4 – Tyrell Johnson‘s 20-yard catch on third-and-four
  • Q4 – Nick Wilson, 15- yard rushing touchdown
  • Q4 – Anu Solomon’s second interception
  • Q4 – BYU keeping a time out and avoiding a 10-second clock rundown leaving them six seconds to kick a field goal
  • Q4 – True freshman Jake Oldroyd kicked field goal to win the game

Who Shined

  • Q1 – Carrington Vaughn sacked Taysom Hill stopping the Cougars on 3 and 9
  • Q2 – Nate Phillips, a couple of nice catches, getting the ball moving
  • Q2 – Jarvais McCall Jr. blocked a pass in the end zone, BYU kicked a field goal
  • Q2 – Arizona’s and BYU’s defense, both teams held their opponents points to under 20
  • Q2 – BYU QB Taysom Hill overall performance  (Taysom is 26 years old)
  • Q3 – Fans, there were 50,528 of them in attendance and the Wildcats fans were loud!
  • Q3 – Paul Magloire: 9 tackles; 2 TFLs Tellas Jones: 5 tackles (until he got hurt, so who knows how many tackles he could have made?
  • Q3 – Dane Cruikshank 8 solo tackles, haven’t heard his name much this far, but we will hear his name now!
  • Q4 – Tyrell Johnson – nice catch
  • Q4 – Anthony Mariscal, who took over for Tellas Jones, 6 tackles; Deandre’ Miller 6 tackles
  • Q4 – Nick Wilson 49-yard TD and 15-yard TD, started out slow, but put the Cats in a position to win, he’s back folks! FANTASTIC NEWS!
  • Q4 – BYU true freshman Kicker Jake Oldroyd, after being iced by Rich Rod, still kicked the winning field goal; a 33-yard game-winning kick with four seconds remaining

What needs improvement

  • Q1 – Consistent running game, it was almost non-existent in the first quarter, O-line either create windows for Wilson or maybe toss the ball and run the ball on the outside, and stop running up the middle.
  • Q2 – Special Teams, Field Goal missed, off to the left (granted it was a 52-yarder, and Pollack made the second)
  • Q3 – Anu has to be more of a dual threat QB, the defense know he’s not going to run!
  • Q4 – Need to practice 2-point conversions
  • Q4 – Anu holding the ball too long, needs to get rid of the football
  • Q4 – Arizona’s passing and catching. Not one passing touchdown scored
  • Game – Play-calling according to Coach Rod, “It starts with the staff and myself.”
  • Game – Answer Sheet for in-game adjustments: Add: What to do if you want to kick a field goal (don’t go backward) on a third down with not much time left. And: The QB should run if you have time and no open man

Rodriguez is standing firmly behind his decision to start and play Anu, but we haven’t seen too much improvement from last season; he won’t run the ball. Hopefully, both Rich Rodriguez and his quarterback are right, and all they need is some fine tuning. Fans were clamoring during the game for both Brandon Dawkins or Khalil Tate.

must read: Arizona Football falls to BYU, beats Vegas odds (BYU -2.5), Defense improved

The natives are restless, and so we move on to Grambling State next Saturday where former Arizona football coach Larry Smith (posthumously) and others will be entered into the Arizona Hall of Fame. All of us here at ZZ have Tellas in our thoughts, we hope the injury wasn’t serious. BearDown and carry on!