There were actually more bright spots than many would assume. The best of the bunch was true freshman Michael Thomas who had 92 yards and a score on just seven catches. In his first college game Thomas showed that the coaches' faith in him was justified.
UNSUNG OFFENSIVE STAR OF THE GAME:
Syndric Steptoe. He was a little lost in the shadow of Thomas, but the Wildcat junior had 90 yards on six catches and had the most yards after catch of any of the Wildcat pass catchers. Very few of the Wildcats were able to run after making the catch.
DEFENSIVE STAR OF THE GAME:
Sophomore Dane Krogstad had 15 tackles, two for loss, plus a pass deflection. The linebacker moved inside and did not miss a beat. He was all over the field and really proved to be a leader.
UNSUNG DEFENSIVE STAR OF THE GAME:
Marcus Hollingsworth was used as a combination linebacker/nickelback/safety. He got the start and had some big hits. Although he had just five tackles it appeared as if he did a decent job on outside contain against the info.
After a great spring and a nice fall camp, Jefferson just did not show up. They threw to him at least four times. Twice he dropped the ball and on two other occasions he had a defender in his chest and could not come up with the tough catch. The Cats need him to show up against NAU.
He actually played better than I gave him credit for, but Byron Smith did not have the huge impact many Wildcat fans had hoped. He did have two tackles, one for loss, but we did not hear his name called a whole lot and was not run stuffer the Cats needed.
DID YOU KNOW?
The offensive line actually graded out very well. Both sacks came on blitzes and on several runs the running backs missed the hole. Not an All-Pro effort, but a nice starting point for the season.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The Cats gave up 446 yards of offense to the Utes but 106 yards came on two big plays. Take those away and things are a little more respectable.
Brad Brittain injured his knee early on. This is a loss for the Cats as he was not only one of the better offensive linemen on the club, but also was seeing some action as a blocking tight end.
The Cats also lost Copeland Bryan, their best pass rusher.
The Wildcats did not throw a pass until their third possession. The numbers are misleading as the Cats failed on a third and short on their first drive and fumbled early on the second drive.
16 players saw their first action for the Wildcats. Brandyn McCall got the start, while Dillon Hansen, Michael Thomas, Michael Johnson, Adrian McCovy, Brandon Tatum, Paul Nichols, Brandon Lopez, Adam Hawes, Joe Longacre, Garen McHone, Gerold Rodrigues, Travis Bell, Michael Shelton, Byron Smith, and Adam Austin.
One big cause for concern was the tackling. Arizona was really popping the Utes early on, but later in the contest they missed a lot of tackles.
Another iffy spot was the ability to get plays sent in. The Cats burned a number of timeouts and took a couple of delay of games because they could not get the play signaled in.
Expect to see both Bobby McCoy and Xavier Smith take the field. If Jefferson and Anthony Johnson continue to struggle, expect the speedy redshirt freshman to see some work. I'd also expect Smith to get some carries to get him used to major college football and see what he can do to help the club.
On the defensive side I'd expect Shelton to get extra work at the rush end. He has size similar to that of the injured Bryan and showed flashes of being able to get to the passer in fall camp.