Arizona/Cal Evals

Arizona seemingly took a step back in their loss to Cal. After two close losses the Cats were handily beaten by the Bears. I still feel that the Cats are on the right track for the long term health of the program, but they proved that there is a long way to go.

This was not as good a Cal team as the team that beat Arizona 38-0 at Arizona Stadium a year ago, but it still isn't a bad team. They are ranked 12th, and while that may be a tad high, there is no doubt that they are a legitimate top-25.

The Cats defense played well, maybe even well enough to win. Of Cal's four scoring drives, three came off of Wildcat turnovers. The Cats held Cal to over 80 yards under their season rushing average but still surrendered 194 yards rushing.

Offensively the Cats were off their game. They committed 11 penalties and barely crossed the 200-yard mark for total offense. They continued to commit false starts and had a delay of game and sent 12 players into the huddle after a time out.

Let's look at how the individual positions played.

Richard Kovalcheck played the worst game of his short Wildcat career, but got no help from the rest of the offense. All three of his interceptions came as he scrambled to avoid the rush, but all three were bad decisions. He needs to learn to throw the ball out of bounds when flushed. A lot of fans may be calling for Tuitama, but this is Kovalcheck's first sub-par performance of the year and it is too soon to write him off considering the Cats' were 25th in the country in passing coming into the game.

It's hard to tell how much of the running problems are the backs' fault and how much is the fault of the offensive line? Mike Bell ran hard but only averaged three yards a carry and missed several holes. Gilbert Harris was a non-factor and Chris Henry still has negative yardage for the season.

The unit was disappointing. They failed to make big plays, while running bad routes and breaking other routes off prematurely. A positive sign was the emergence of both Michael Jefferson and B.J. Dennard. Neither guy put up great numbers but Dennard had his first two catches of the night and Jefferson hauled in three passes after having just one catch in the previous three games. Cal did a great job keeping Brad Wood out of the offensive attack. On the fourth down play inside the five Anthony Johnson ran a slow, lazy route that partially led to the incompletion.

The line just did not play well. They committed a few dumb penalties and while they surrendered just one sack, Kovalcheck had defenders in his face all night. What makes matters worse is that the Bears rarely blitzed, relying on the defensive line to rush the passer. Even worse is that they could not consistently open holes for the running backs which forced the Cats to the air it out and led to Cal dominating the time of possession.

Welcome back Copeland Bryan. The senior defensive end made an instant impact sacking Ayoob three times. All told the Cats go to the Cal quarterback five times. They surrendered 194 yards on the ground, but that is over 80 yards less than they had been gaining all season.

It was not a perfect game, but they contained and tackled much better. Dane Krogstad was a welcomed addition and this unit could be solid when Spencer Larsen and Ronnie Palmer return.

The long touchdown pass was really the only bad play by the group. They gave up just 137 yards in the air, 39 coming on the broken play and another 35 coming on the final drive of the game. They tackled much better and Darrell Brooks did a better job making his presence felt. Antoine Cason had an interception, the first by a UA DB this season.

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