Most of the talk surrounding a football game traditionally revolves around the two teams competing. But this week, a third-party has come entered the post-game subject matter mix: the referees.
In Arizona's 9-7 loss to Wisconsin Saturday, several calls by the officials came into question.
Head coach Mike Stoops said he was displeased with a few of the calls made during Saturday's contest and was going to contact the Pacific 10 Conference head of officiating as a result.
The two most visible plays came in the game's closing minutes.
Following Wisconsin's go-ahead field goal, Badger kicker Mike Allen kicked the ball out of bounds, which should have given the Wildcats the ball at the 35-yard line. Junior fullback Pedro Limon, however, was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for hitting a Wisconsin player after the whistle had blown.
Even more detrimental to Arizona's hopes than Limon's infraction was a five-yard false start just prior to Nick Folk's 47-yard game-winning field goal attempt.
Arizona moved the ball into the Wisconsin 25 when sophomore quarterback Kris Heavner was called for a false start. This call moved the ball back to the 30, leaving Folk with a 47-yard attempt that ended up wide and left by about two feet.
Stoops said he understands that officials will make mistakes and that he takes that with the game, but that it is important for the league to know.
Lack of depth prevalent
Wisconsin scored all nine of its points in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, something Stoops attributes to the Wildcats' lack of depth.
"Ultimately we're not a very deep football team, and I think we got tired later in the game. Our execution dropped off as the game progressed," Stoops said. "That's just lack of depth of players we need to play at this level."
The Wildcats did get a little help on the defensive line when freshmen Johnathan Turner and Yaniv Barnett both saw their first collegiate action.
Barnett recorded two tackles for a loss and Turner had no official tackle.
"Both of them have a chance to be really good football players," Stoops said. "Those are two guys who are special and have those great qualities you like."
When the difference between beating a top-20 team comes down to a field goal, a team's mistakes become magnified that much more.
The Wildcats' offense struggled to move the football Saturday, gaining less than 200 yards, but Stoops said the biggest difference was the team's lack of productivity on third down, on both sides of the ball.
"You have to get off the field," Stoops said, "and you have to keep the chains moving from an offensive perspective."
The Wildcats were 2-of-11 on third down attempts, while the Badgers were 6-of-15, but more notably 3-of-4 on fourth down conversions.
"We didn't execute nearly good enough in some critical areas," said Stoops. "We're close on some things, but just not converting in some situations."
Stoops also said the three sacks the Badgers defense racked up really hurt Arizona.
The Wildcats gave up three sacks for a loss of 38 yards. Stoops said the sacks were a combination of Heavner holding on to the ball too long and the offensive line not giving him enough time. Stoops noted the offense would have to eliminate those mistakes in order to be successful.
Pac-10 slate underway
The Pac-10 schedule opened up play Saturday with UCLA beating Washington 37-31, and six other teams will start play this weekend.
Besides Arizona's game against Washington State, Southern California travels to Stanford and Oregon State takes on ASU in Tempe.
The Trojans will take on the Cardinal on national television, with TBS picking up the broadcast rights, while the Beavers and Sun Devils will be regionally broadcasted on Fox Sports Net Arizona.
The Wildcats will be on network for the second time in as many weeks, with their game being shown on ABC to regional markets.
"Having a game on ABC and play a Pac-10 opener is exciting for everybody. Our kids are even more determined this week than they were last week," said Stoops.
Freshman receiver Anthony Johnson left the Wisconsin game after taking a helmet to the knee. It remains questionable whether he will play against Washington State.
Johnson's leg was in a brace yesterday morning and Stoops said the team would have to wait and see on his status.
If Johnson is out against the Cougars, the impact of the loss could be softened with the return of junior receiver Biren Ealy. Ealy returned to practice last week, but was in street clothes for the Wisconsin game. Stoops said Ealy's foot, which he broke this summer, was still bothering him and the team would test it out again this week in practice.
Another player the Wildcats get back this week is senior offensive lineman Brandon Phillips. Phillips was forced to sit out Arizona's non-conference schedule to gain a sixth year of eligibility.
Stoops said he wasn't sure how the senior would be used, but noted he would add more depth to the offensive front.
Wazzu QB update
Washington State quarterback Josh Swogger had an MRI on his injured right leg Sunday.
Results of the medical scan were not known, but according to WSU head coach Bill Doba, he didn't think the injury was season-ending. Swogger was hurt five minutes into the third quarter of the Cougars' 49-8 win over Idaho Saturday. Before leaving the game, Swogger threw for four touchdowns and 196 yards in Washington State's second win of the year.