The battle of the two worst defenses in the PAC-12 began just as you would expect with poor tackling, turnovers, and big running lanes. Instant offense back, Ka’Deem Carey had 71 yards and 3 touchdowns on his first 8 carries. Meanwhile on the Colorado side, the Buffs capitalized on an early Arizona fumble and the game looked like a shootout in the making. The Buffs surpassed their league lowest average of 16.1 points per game near the end of the second quarter to make the score 21-17. But Arizona came right back with an 80 yard drive for a touchdown in just 9 plays and just under three minutes. This put the Cats up 11 and they never looked back. Carey continued to run well and eventually the Colorado offense faltered.
Ka'Deem Carey set multiple school and conference records Saturday against Colorado.
It was fairly evident that the turning point in the game would be if one team could simply get a defensive stop. After a turnover early by both teams, there was not a whole lot of defensive dominance.The turning point in the game for Arizona was probably their fumble in their first possession. Call it nerves or jitters, but whatever it was, after the turnover the Cats scored on seven consequetive possessions. The Buffs or any team for that matter simply cannot hang with a team that rattles off 49 straight points. I would say that the Wildcats ended up getting some stops, but really I think it was more due to the Buffs offense falling apart.
How Game Was Won
It could be said that this game was won by Ka'Deem. But with Matt Scott out of the game with a concussion, B.J. Denker took the reins of the offense and played very well. Also, you have to give some credit to the offensive line. The most surprising thing to watch was the tempo of the game. It almost looked faster with Denker than it has with Scott in the past few games. The play calling was much more on point than in the UCLA game, and it seemed like the Wildcat offense had the Buffs number from the start. The Buffs were unable to get a stop on defense and the tempo was definitely the main ingredient in a 574 yard performance by the Cats offense.
Stat of the Game
Besides Carey's incredible performance, the drives that Arizona had were definitely impressive. They worked fast and they worked efficiently. Seldom did their drives last longer than three minutes. The stat of the game is time of possession. Usually, it is a bad stat if you do not have the ball longer than the other team. In typical football games, the team that has the ball the most wins the game. This was not the case on Saturday.While the Cat’s only had the ball for just over 18 minutes, they were able to rack up an impressive amount of yards and 56 points.
Player of the Game
No doubt about it, the Ka’Deem Carey show was impressive and he proved he was the best player on the field. Carey finished with an incredible 400 all purpose yards and a staggering 5 touchdowns. Carey was dominant the entire game and looked unstoppable. I might add, however, that the player of the game runner up has to go to B.J. Denker. Stepping in to fill Matt Scott’s shoes and running a complicated, up-tempo Rich Rod offense is a tough task. Denker led the Wildcats up and down the field with pin-point passing and good decision making (like handing to Carey) while keeping the Buffs on their heels with quick play calling and execution. Denker finished with 136 yards on 12 of 14 passing, with one touchdown. He also ran for 44 yards and a touchdown.
You cannot help but wonder how good this Arizona team could be if they could just put together some stops on defense. Their tackling and penetration is so poor that it can be hard to watch at times. With the exception of a few plays and a few players, the Wildcats just do not get off blocks and make plays on the defensive side of the ball. Colorado proved to struggle even more with this and Arizona was able to take control of the game by scoring fast and scoring often. However, this caused some problems defensively because of the lack of rest. The time of possession was so one-sided that by the time the defense sat down, the offense had scored and they had to go back out and attempt to get some stops. Being tired only compiles mistakes and increases the possibility of injury, which is an already plagued area for Arizona.
What it Means
The Wildcats are now bowl eligible with the win against the Buffs. Their upcoming path will determine what kind of bowl berth they can capture. With Matt Scott most likely re-entering the lineup next week, the offense should not be an issue. Also, if Scott is unable to go, or struggles early, I think the confidence in Denker has risen and Rich Rod would have no problem throwing him into the cold while in Salt Lake. The defense will no doubt have to step up and play better in the coming weeks. If they can manage some stops and keep the turnover margin on the plus side, the Cats could win out and end up with a solid 8-4 record overall. This would put them into a decent bowl (depending on what the rest of the PAC-12 does). Rich Rod’s era would begin on a solid note and the Arizona faithful would be optimistic for the upcoming years. However, if the defense continues to play this poorly, the Cats could be looking at two losses and finishing with a dismal .500 record. In any case, the next few weeks will be entertaining and I for one, will be optimistic in the success of the Wildcats.