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Post-game thoughts: Arizona vs. California

Posted By Henry Childs On Sep 27 2010 @ 6:23 pm In Arizona | No Comments

Well that was…different.

Arizona, who beat then-#10 Iowa last week, struggled mightily to beat California in its Pac-10 opener 10-9 on Saturday.

That’s right. 10-9. Is that the type of game a potential conference contender plays in? A game full of offensive miscues, turnovers, and penalties across the board?

Not only does every contender play in a game or two like these each season. But great teams and contenders find ways to win these types of games.

The Wildcats struggled for the entire game on Saturday. Quarterback Nick Foles didn’t find his stride until late in the fourth quarter, as well as receiver Javon Criner. Cal’s defense, which got slaughtered by Nevada a week before, was all of a sudden revised and reborn, stopping Arizona many times and forcing six punts.

But the Wildcats found a way to win. And in this years’ Pac-10 Conference, that’s what teams are going to need to do in order to win the league title.

I thought Arizona’s defense played extremely well. They didn’t allow Cal QB Kevin Riley to get in a groove, and they did not allow too many big plays on the ground.

The offense, however, needs to step it up.

Foles ended up with okay numbers: 25-for-39, 212 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception. But he didn’t show the type of leadership in the first three and a half quarters that big-time quarterbacks need to show to their teammates. Running back Nic Grigsby averaged over five yards-per-carry on Saturday, but he only carried the ball 12 times. And Criner, who has shown flashes of brilliance many times in his career at Arizona, struggled mightily until the final drive where he had a 51-yard catch and the game-winning touchdown grab.

The Wildcats showed that they could win a sloppy game, if the situation is so. But if they want to keep up with teams like Oregon and Stanford, they must find an identity on offense and stick with it.  The bye week this weekend should help.

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