Observations: Arizona vs. California

Arizona defeated California on Saturday. Read on to see what the win taught us about the Wildcats moving forward.

With their toughest stretch of schedule right around the corner, Arizona could have easily overlooked the one-win Cal Bears and dropped an egg.

While it was far from a perfect performance, the Wildcats did enough to come away with a 33-28 win to gain bowl eligibility for the second year in a row and for the fifth time in six years. Let's take a look at some of the main takeaway points from this weekend.

  • On Saturday, the special teams play may have been the best it has all season.

    Jake Smith surprised everyone as he drilled a 53-yard field goal, and he came within a few feet of hitting a 55-yarder right before the end of the half.

    Drew Riggleman, who was named the special teams player of the week by the coaching staff, did a terrific job pinning the Golden Bears deep in their own territory all game long, as he dropped four punts inside the 20.

    The lone blemish was Nate Phillips muffing a punt, though he was able to pounce on top of the ball immediately.

  • The wide receivers really stepped up in a big way.

    Terrence Miller's 60-yard reception was big, and Samajie Grant, who was named the offensive player of the week by the coaching staff, was excellent while hauling in a team-high nine receptions.

    After losing so much from last year's group, the receivers seem to really be improving every time they take the field.

  • The biggest issue on offense came on the line. Despite putting up big numbers, B.J. Denker was forced out of the pocket numerous times as Cal's front-seven came crashing in. There weren't a ton of open lanes for Ka'Deem Carey, either.

    Speaking of Denker and Carey, they now rank third in the nation in QB-RB rushing yards after accumulating 196 more on Saturday.

  • On defense, it would've been nice to see Jeff Casteel drum up a bit more pressure on Jared Goff, who came in with a reputation for rushing some throws and forcing interceptions.

    There's something to be said for bending (and not breaking) on defense when the team holds a lead, but UA's front-three seldom even got close to Goff in the backfield.

    While the secondary had some issues, Jonathan McKnight and Jourdon Grandon came away with two huge interceptions to help seal the deal in the second half.

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