Arizona defeated Washington State on Saturday. Read on to see what we thought of both sides of the ball, the keys to winning, and more.
Arizona won by three touchdowns and somehow it still wasn’t indicative of how big of a blowout this really was. Arizona dominated Washington State in every facet of the game and although the Cougars aren’t that good, the overall effort was extremely impressive.
I felt this was Anu Solomon’s best game of the season. He finished 26-38 for 294 yards and five touchdowns in addition to 31 rushing yards. He made a few bad reads, but I felt in terms of that aspect of his game, he was better than I had seen him before. Yes, he had the early overthrows, but he was able to get the vertical game going and really keep Washington State on its heels.
When Solomon is spreading the ball around like that, Arizona’s offense is nearly impossible to stop. He hit 10 different receivers and six guys had multiple catches. Cayleb Jones and Austin Hill were complete nightmares for Washington State tonight due to their size and strength. Both probably could have had even better numbers, but again Solomon was spreading out the ball.
It’s about time the special teams got working. Arizona is not a bad squad on special teams and Neal was the guy to break one open. His job was made much easier by the great blocking, specifically Antonio Smothers and Tellas Jones. Both had the key blocks on the return and once you give a guy like Neal space, it is generally over. Arizona is probably going to get another one of those this season and it may be a case of getting the first and putting it out of the way.
I didn’t think Nick Wilson looked healthy at all tonight, but we will see if Rodriguez says anything about it. He just seemed hesitant to me and was not nearly as strong in his lower body as he usually is On the flip side, Terris Jones-Grigsby was fantastic. Arizona was in control throughout, but I thought the sequence where he had the 38 and 13-yard runs really pushed Washington State around and cemented what the offense wanted to do.
The stats may not show it, but the defense played as well as it has all season. Washington State finished with 543 yards, but 232 of those yards were in trash time in the fourth quarter. Arizona’s defense made Halliday’s life miserable with eight tackles for loss. Scooby Wright forced three fumbles, Tevis had a sack, Arizona had two interceptions. It seemed that whenever the Cougars’ passing attack would get any momentum, an Arizona defender would come up big.
Arizona ran 25 less plays than Washington State, but averaged 6.1 yards per play to 5.5. It went 7-13 on third down to 7-18 for Washington State. The Wildcats also held the Cougars to 1-4 on fourth down. 14 points off turnovers as well.
I thought the game was put away in the third quarter. Arizona had 195 yards to Washington State’s 76. It ran 13 times for 106 yards and Solomon was 6-9 passing with two of those completions being touchdowns. The first and third quarters are the only ones Arizona had more plays than Washington State and they were easily the most lopsided as well.