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Season recap: Arizona

12/7/2011

ARIZONA

4-8, 2-7

A 10-game losing streak to FBS foes -- starting with the final five games of 2010 -- did in coach Mike Stoops. It's worth noting that 10-game losing streak included Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford and USC in eight of those games, with a back-ended schedule in 2010 and a front-loaded one in 2011 doing in Stoops. No other team in the nation even approached that degree of difficulty during a 10-game stretch.

It was the Oct. 8 loss at Oregon State, however, that was the end, a bad loss to a bad team. The problem for the Wildcats was obvious: They could throw the ball with QB Nick Foles, but that was it. With four new offensive linemen, they couldn't run the ball. And the defense was pretty rotten.

Interim coach Tim Kish did a good job keeping the team together after Stoops was fired. First, he led the Wildcats to a surprising win over UCLA on ESPN. And, after three consecutive losses, the Wildcats won their final two games, including a 31-27 win at Arizona State.

Offensive MVP: QB Nick Foles rewrote the school's passing record book in his career. He threw for 4,334 yards and 28 touchdowns this fall with 14 interceptions. He led the conference with 361 yards passing per game.

Defensive MVP: Trevin Wade, a second-team All-Pac-12 cornerback, had 52 tackles, two interceptions and 13 pass breakups. After a down junior year, he came back strong as a senior.

Turning point: There were two for Arizona. One: The loss against Oregon State, which was the end of Stoops. Two: The win over Arizona State, which created positive momentum in advance of the hiring of Rich Rodriguez.

What's next: There is enough talent in Tucson for a return to a bowl game in 2012, starting with QB Matt Scott, who was able to redshirt this season and is the sort of dual threat who should do well in Rodriguez's spread option. There's also five offensive line starters returning, basically the opposite of 2011, as well as a number of injured defensive starters, including safety Adam Hall, CB Jonathan McKnight and LB Jake Fischer.