UA not relaxing after road win
Arizona head coach Dick Tomey saw the usual mix of pluses and minuses come out of Saturday's 31-14 win at Stanford.
While the running game got better and the defensive line came up with some good plays, the secondary and quarterbacks left him with some concerns going into next week's game at home against Iowa.
"Not at all the same situation," Tomey said when asked about how Iowa compared to Stanford. "Iowa's a more accomplished team, with tremendous, explosive athletes on offense. They're a team that's used to winning."
Tomey said that neither of Arizona's two quarterbacks, junior Keith Smith and sophomore Ortege Jenkins, were especially impressive Saturday.
"I don't think either of them was superb," Tomey said. "Both had some problems. We lost some plays we can't lose later in the season."
Smith started the game and played the first quarter. He returned later in the second half and was 8 of 14 overall for 130 yards with one interception and a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Dennis Northcutt in the fourth quarter.
Jenkins entered the game in the second quarter and played for much of the third. He was also 8 of 14 for 158 yards and one TD pass to senior wide receiver Jeremy McDaniel.
Despite the fact Arizona scored 31 points, Tomey said it should have been more.
"We had a chance for a big offensive day but we let it slip away," he said.
A missed field goal and Smith's interception by Jamien McCullum in the first quarter killed two Arizona drives inside the Cardinal red zone.
While the Wildcats struggled early on offense, their defense wasn't faring much better.
"I was displeased with giving up big plays on defense," Tomey said, specifically referring to the play in which preseason All-American Troy Walters burned UA star cornerback Chris McAlister for a 67-yard catch that set up Stanford's first TD.
After the game, McAlister was very vocal about his disappointment in his own play.
"After I finish playing I always feel like I could have played better," he said.
McAlister said that in the play with Walters the Stanford receiver ran "an out and up while I (didn't) take my eyes off the quarterback."
During practice last night offensive lineman Yusuf Scott said McAlister "is the greatest cornerback in the country. If he doesn't win the Thorpe Award, something's wrong. He's the greatest."
To which McAlister responded, "The greatest doesn't let someone burn him for 67 yards on an out run."
But McAlister still appreciates his teammates' faith.
"It feels good, but I'm not paying much attention because they're just joking around," he said.
Tomey agreed with McAlister's assessment of his play and with the way he reacted to his performance.
"I don't think he played one of his best games," Tomey said, despite the fact the senior had five tackles, three passes broken up and an interception.
"An average player would be thrilled with that kind of performance, but Chris isn't that kind of player," Tomey said. "I think the best players are the ones who are tough on themselves."
But lost amid the talk of Arizona's disappointing plays and players was that Tomey saw a lot of positive things for the team to build on.
"I thought Keoni (Fraser) and Daniel Greer and Anthony Thomas did a good job," he said. "I saw a lot of good things from our defensive line."
Tomey was especially impressed with how the entire defense was able to put more pressure on Cardinal QB Todd Husak.
"We got in his face a lot," Tomey said.
Junior free safety Rafell Jones, the defensive player of the game at Hawaii, again stood out.
"He's probably been so far the most consistent guy in our secondary," Tomey said.
Scott and Manuia Savea were the standouts among the offensive lineman. Scott even managed to recover a fumble by running back Leon Callen, to which Tomey said he earned an "atta boy" from the coaches for his effort.
Still, Tomey is not about to let his players rest on the laurels of two victories.
"I'm tickled to death with the win but we need to take a quantum leap next week to beat Iowa," he said.
Chris Jackson can be reached via e-mail at Chris.Jackson@wildcat.arizona.edu.