Observations: Arizona vs. USC

Arizona lost to USC on Thursday. Read on to see what we can learn from the loss, including quarterback play and more.

Thursday night was a rough one for the Wildcats. They came out flat against a motivated USC team and paid the price, falling behind by three scores in a hurry.

Blame it on the Trojans wanting to avenge last year's loss, Ed Orgeron having his team more prepared than Rich Rodriguez, or the defense looking a lot more like the 2012 unit that was arguably the worst in the nation, there were few positives to take away from the 38-31 loss.

  • If there was a silver lining, it was the play of B.J. Denker, especially in the second half.

    Fans continued to attack Denker once the final whistle was blown, but he was hardly to blame for the loss.

    He completed 28-of-44 passes for 363 yards and four touchdowns and didn't the ball over once. It was the best performance of his short career at UA by a mile, and if he can continue to put up numbers like those, the Wildcats will have a shot moving forward.

  • Another thing to be proud of was the way Arizona fought back in the second half. It was always incredibly frustrating to watch Mike Stoops' teams seemingly give up if they fell behind early, especially on the road.

    Under Rich Rodriguez and the current staff, the Wildcats have played a full 60 minutes regardless of what the scoreboard says.

    Not being able to stop USC on 3rd-and-9 with just a few minutes left in the fourth was really frustrating, but the fact UA even had a chance was remarkable.

  • While Denker surprisingly played well, there's still plenty to work on. He seldom stayed in the pocket and missed numerous receivers down the field during the first half.

    He also missed a couple of reads with Ka'Deem Carey, keeping the ball for himself instead of handing it off for a big gain.

  • The defense was an absolute train wreck after playing pretty well against Washington. It hurt that Jake Fischer wasn't 100 percent, but one player's injury won't overshadow an awful performance.

    Even with Marqise Lee on the sidelines, Arizona's secondary was torched for 297 yards and two passing touchdowns.

    The defensive line was unable to get any kind of a pass rush on Cody Kessler and was gashed for 249 yards on the ground, giving up 5.5 yards per-carry to Silas Redd and company.

  • Jake Smith missed a field goal by about 30 feet to the left, and if it weren't for USC somehow kicking the ball on a botched extra-point attempt, it would've been even worse.

    Also, while USC seemingly started with the ball on their 40-yard line on just about every drive, Arizona was backed up deep in their own territory far too often.

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