For days we heard about the weather and how it would hurt Arizona and the Wildcats would struggle in the cold.
Well, two teams have to play in it and one has a considerably better offense than the other. Utah’s offense has been horrible for the majority of the season. I like Devontae Booker, but if you take away or even slightly diminish his streak in the middle of the season, he hasn’t done a ton this season.
Arizona made Travis Wilson beat it, which was seemingly the obvious strategy and it worked to perfection. Think about this: Anu Solomon finished with more passing yards in only half the completions and while only playing in one half of action. Scroggins had nearly half of Wilson’s yards on 13 less completions.
The defense sat on the short routes and basically dared Utah to beat it with the deep ball, which it had no chance of doing. Now, this doesn’t work if Arizona can’t wrap up or make mistakes, but it played about as good of a game as you could have hoped.
Booker ran for 142 yards on 23 carries, but 61 of those came on one run. I don’t like to discount those big runs, but that means Arizona held him to 81 yards on 22 carries or 3.68 yards per carry. That’s pretty damn good and Utah isn’t going to beat many above average teams with those numbers.
This defense is so much better when Tra'Mayne Bondurant gets more snaps. He led the Wildcats in tackles, had a pick six, and yet another forced fumble. Not only that, but the guy is a proud father as of this morning. That’s not a bad day for Bondurant.
I thought this was the best I have seen Will Parks play. He finished with a sack, three tackles for loss, and two pass breakups. He established Arizona’s defensive identity early in the game and I felt the defense really fed off what he was able to do.
In addition, Jourdon Grandon might have played his best game of the season. I’m not a big fan of Grandon this year, but he played great. Had the interception, huge sack, broke up a pass. He played very well and made Wilson’s life even more difficult.
Offensively, Arizona had a strategy and executed it to perfection. When Solomon was in, he played pretty well and was probably on his way to a 300-yard game if not more. He especially did well when he was able to run and Arizona attacked the edges as much as possible. Once he slowed down, Arizona’s offense was hurting a bit and it wasn’t a huge surprise to see him not return. His ankle has been bothering him for quite some time and if he isn’t able to plant on it or run, he isn’t much good to anybody.
That leads us to Jesse Scroggins. The fumbles were scary for obvious reasons, but it was nice to see he and Gurrola talk on the sideline and get it figured out. Arizona really just needed Scroggins to not screw up and he was successful. He finished with 64 yards passing on only five attempts and had a nice run as well.
Of course, the real story on offense is the running game. The offensive line has taken its share of criticism as of late, but it completely blew away the Utah defensive line on a consistent basis. Hunter Dimick and Nate Orchard finished with a combined two tackles for loss, which has to be among the lower part of the spectrum this season.
Nick Wilson dominated the game. He finished with 20 carries for 218 yards and three touchdowns. He also became the first Arizona freshman to run for 1,000 yards in a season. Imagine his numbers if he was able to stay healthy this season.
Not many picked Arizona to win this game, but the Wildcats continue to surprise people and now have a chance at a ten win season.