By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
It looks as if Arizona will from now on play the role of spoiler.
After suffering a 31-17 defeat at the hands of Washington in front of a home crowd of 58,471 Saturday night, Arizona (3-4 overall, 1-3 Pacific 10 Conference) will now be hard-pressed to enter the bowl picture. To even have a chance at postseason play, Arizona would have to win all its remaining games, which would mean beating Washington State in Pullman, Wash., next week and Oregon at home. So the question is, has the Wildcats' dismal record changed UA coach Dick Tomey's philosophy about each game?
"Right now we're playing for pride and to win the next game," Tomey said. "But that should be what we play for anyway."
The story of this game was Arizona mistakes. The Wildcats had five turnovers that led to 14 Washington points, while Arizona could only manage one turnover on defense.
"In the last two games turnovers have killed us," Arizona quarterback Dan White said. "One of the top goals our team sets before each game is to win the turnover battle. If you don't win that, you're hard-pressed to win the game."
Just one minute into the game, Arizona running back Gary Taylor fumbled the ball over to the Huskies on the UA 20-yard line. Two minutes later, Washington quarterback Damon Huard connected with tight end Ernie Conwell for a 17-yard TD pass.
After a couple of Batten keepers on their next possession, the Wildcats punted the ball to Washington (5-2, 4-0), which put together an 11-play, 53-yard drive capped by a touchdown pass from Huard to Jerome Pathon.
Going into the second quarter, the Huskies seemed to have the game in hand with a 14-0 lead. But after a John Wales field goal, Arizona got on the scoreboard when White, subbing for Brady Batten, sparked the Wildcats to a 76-yard drive, connecting with tight end Mike Metzler for a 23-yard touchdown pass. The key to the drive was White's use of the no-huddle offense.
"We went to a no-huddle to keep Washington out of their blitzing scheme," Tomey said. "We'll have to look at the tape to see if we use that next week."
The Wildcats added a field goal to go into the half down 17-10. But their success was short-lived, as Husky running back Rashaan Shehee broke through for a 48-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
"He gashed through our defense and was in the end zone pretty quick," Tomey said. "That was a huge play because of the shift of the momentum it caused in the second half."
Seven minutes later the Huskies put the game away when linebacker Inkaika Malloe sacked White and popped the ball loose. Nose tackle David Richie scooped up the ball and ran 31 yards for a touchdown to make it 31-10.
"We just missed a block on the perimeter and turned somebody loose on the quarterback," Tomey said. "Dan didn't see the guy coming and got blasted."
In addition to the turnovers, the UA running game managed only 28 yards on 29 carries, with Gary Taylor leading the way with 16 carries for 40 yards.
The passing game, however, was a bright spot in the UA attack. White threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns, and looked to have perhaps taken back the starting quarterback position. While White did throw two interceptions, they were not entirely his fault. One was tipped by the receiver, and on the other the receiver ran the wrong route.
"I think it's pretty clear who our number one guy is," Tomey said. "And all things equal, I would rather go with a senior anyway."
Now Arizona has to focus on winning in Pullman.
"Every week we face a different challenge. We just have to pick each other up and go into Pullman," UA defensive end Tedy Bruschi said. "Washington State's going to be tough, especially at home, where it is going to be pretty cold. We just have to try and work with our offense and force some turnovers."
Read Next Article