A 14-0 deficit in the first quarter usually meant a long night was in store for the Arizona Wildcats in years past. Even in recent seasons when the offense became more of a juggernaut, UA could never fight back when it fell in a hole early in the contest.
Perhaps the arrival of Rich Rodriguez has changed that. After Oklahoma State took a two touchdown lead half way through the first quarter, the Wildcats woke up and turned their offense to an extreme level and ultimately came back to not only win, but blow out the Cowboys 59-38. OSU's 14-point lead started deteriorating quickly and the Cowboys ended up surrendering 30 unanswered points to Arizona. Oklahoma State battled back in the third quarter, but UA pulled away late in the contest.
Arizona's offense was virtually unstoppable and displayed the type of attack college football fans became used to seeing from Rich Rodriguez during his days at West Virginia. Led by an efficient quarterback and a balanced attack, the Wildcats moved the ball seemingly at will and made OSU's defense look fatigued in the process.
Arizona played very well, but no game is perfect. A performance like the one the Wildcats displayed Saturday night is going to render plenty of positive analysis, but there are still a few areas of improvement.
Matt Scott - The senior quarterback had another strong game, completing 28 out of 41 passes for 320 yards and two touchdown passes. Scott also added 55 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown as he gave Oklahoma State's defense fits no matter what he attempted do. If Scott continues to put in performances like this consistently, the Wildcats are going to be tough for anyone to beat.
Ka'Deem Carey - The Tucson native got off to a modest start before turning it up a notch in the second half. The sophomore finished with 126 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground. When Carey was able to pick up yards on the ground in the second half, it allowed UA to control the tempo down the stretch.
Austin Hill - The sophomore shows signs of developing into an elite receiver. Hill concluded the evening with five receptions for 124 yards. He didn't score a touchdown, but he made several big plays and helped Arizona's offense stretch out Oklahoma State's secondary.
Jared Tevis - While many expected Arizona's secondary to struggle, Tevis continues to be a pleasant surprise as he picked up a pair of interceptions on Saturday night. Many thought UA would have problems replacing injured safety Adam Hall, but Tevis has played so well in the first two games that he is seemingly an upgrade. He also finished the night with nine total tackles. I'd expect him to be considered for Pac-12 defensive player of the week honors.
Jake Fischer - The junior linebacker collected 14 tackles, forced and then recovered a fumble, and was around the ball all night. Fischer made several key tackles that prevented long plays from occurring. His presence was felt throughout the night.
Jonathan McKnight - After missing the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL, McKnight has returned in a strong way over the first two games. His 48-yard interception return for a touchdown seemed like a fitting reward for how well he has covered his receivers thus far this season.
John Bonano - After missing a pair of chip-shot field goal attempts, Bonano drilled all three of his attempts Saturday night, including one from 46 yards away.
Team conditioning - Arizona didn't appear as tired as it did a week ago at the end of the game. The Wildcats seem to be getting into better condition quickly, which could make the Wildcats a tougher team to defeat as the season progresses.
Chemistry - For all the talk of how far the Wildcats had to go as a team, they sure seem to be learning at much quicker pace than expected. A week after making an abundance of errors that nearly cost Arizona the game, the Wildcats played about as close to a mistake-free game as anyone can expect. The offense had little trouble moving the chains and scoring at a consistent rate and the defense was opportunistic despite giving up a vast quantity of yards.
Coaching - With all due respect to the previous coaching staff, I am not sure this is a game UA wins without Rodriguez and company roaming the UA sidelines. Arizona showed fight that hasn't been seen from the Wildcats' football program in quite some time. The Wildcats not only eliminated the two-possession deficit, but their constant hurry-up attack on offense kept OSU's defense on its heels and allowed the Wildcats to run the Cowboys off the field for the rest of the game.
Areas of Improvement
Weak start - The Wildcats struggled early again and while the offense picked it up and the defense regrouped, they will need to play much better at the start of games. There are plenty of challenging opponents left on the schedule and UA will have to avoid slow starts to beat the elite teams.
Offensive Line - A unit that is being counted on to provide holes for the running game, Arizona has had problems creating running space for its backs. Carey is producing despite finding it difficult to run the ball at times due to the lack of rushing lanes. It's likely the line is simply adjusting to the scheme and it should show steady improvement throughout the season.
Pass rush - It was apparent that Casteel was keeping more of an eye on Joseph Randle and the Cowboys' rushing attack, but it allowed true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt ample time to throw the ball throughout the game. Arizona failed to record a sack and never really put any pressure on Lunt until the McKnight interception.
UA vs. OSU: Positives and Negatives
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