Postgame thoughts

Truth be told I am not as down on the Wildcats after the 45-27 loss to Cal as I was the week before. The Bears are a very good team, while New Mexico is just okay. I actually picked the Cats to lose by 17, so an 18-point margin is not a big deal. The big deal is how it happened.

I did not expect the Cats to surrender 45 points. Both the Bears and the Cats scored more than I predicted (I said 34-17, about 10 points off for each team). I really did not expect the Bears to explode in the first quarter with a 28-3 lead.

The most common question I have been getting is "what is wrong with the defense?" I think it is a totally valid one, and one that I have asked myself. While I am not sure you can pinpoint one thing, it looks to me like offenses have figured it out. The defense was awesome last year, but it appears that it has not changed significantly and now offensive coaches have "cracked it".

Part of the problem is that the Cats do not blitz much. They are essentially rushing four linemen and not much else. Opposing offenses are double teaming two of the three, and it has been next to impossible to put any pressure on the quarterback.

Because they have so much time they are able to get their receivers into space. The deep crossing pattern has been a killer for the Cats. All the quarterback is wait for the hole in the zone to develop and make a good pass.

In some ways the improved offense may actually hurt the defense. I wonder if last year that the offenses did not play more conservative, knowing the Arizona offense could not match points. Teams like USC, Oregon State and Washington played more conservative in the second half of their wins over Arizona. This year the offense is more effective for the Wildcats, forcing teams to play their normal style. While this may give the defense more opportunities to make mistakes (see Cal last year) it also could lead to more points.

There is still a lot of talent on defense, and Mike Stoops knows defense. Football is similar to chess, you have to constantly outthink your opponent. Sometimes you react to his moves and other times you have to be a step ahead of him. Stoops needs to be ahead of the Pac-10, as he was the previous three years.

I think the Cats may need to shake things up in terms of the line-ups. The poor tackling and stupid penalties cannot be tolerated. Make a statement to the team that poor, undisciplined play will not be tolerated. If that means benching a senior in favor of a younger player, so be it. Even if that player is not quite ready for primetime, a few plays to start a game may be enough to drive home the point.

The offense is coming along. While not perfect by any means, they are doing some good things.

Willie Tuitama set a school record with 42 completions and moved the team pretty well. His decision making was suspect in a few places. He threw short of the first down marker a few too many times for my liking and has seemingly fallen in love with the fade pattern in the redzone, but overall he is playing very solid football.

He really can't be blamed for the fumble, kid was crushed and I like the fact that he completed passes to 10 different receivers.

It appears as if Nic Grigsby has assumed the starting tailback role, or at least until he has a bout of "immaturity" again. He had 16 touches, while Chris Jennings had but four. Although it looks as if the Cats have all but abandoned the run, Grigsby did carry 13 times, but other than a 15-yarder, never really got anything going.

The Cats used a lot of wideouts against the Bears. B.J. Dennard, Mike Turner and Terrell Reese saw extended action. However, I still have to question why the team is not going more to tight end Rob Gronkowski. He should be a big time target on third down and the redzone, but he seemed all but forgotten on Saturday. His height and size advantage make him a guy the Cats should really utilize.

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