Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midseason review: Arizona
By ESPN.com staff
Record: 1-5, 0-4
How are things at midseason for Arizona? Well, coach Mike Stoops, who didn't begin the year on a terribly hot seat, was fired Monday. Does that help explain how things are going in Tucson?
Trouble started for Arizona in spring practices when injuries started to pile up, most notably safety Adam Hall and linebacker Jake Fischer. Then cornerback Jonathan McKnight, the defense's best cover corner, went down in the preseason. An already questionable defense was in trouble.
The Wildcats opened with a win over Northern Arizona, an FCS team, but since then little has gone well. First, they were blown out at Oklahoma State, and that set the tone for the season. Slow starts, horrible defense, no running game, terrible special teams. Everything except for quarterback Nick Foles.
Stanford and Oregon -- yes, the scheduled featured three consecutive dates with top-10 teams -- whipped the Wildcats in front of dispirited home stadium crowds. The next two weeks were about abortive comebacks. The Wildcats fell behind USC 34-12 in the third quarter, but stormed back before losing 48-41. Then they fell behind Oregon State 30-6 but stormed back before losing 37-27.
The problem, though, was Oregon State was 0-4 entering the game. While the tough schedule had been a legitimate excuse before, it wasn't in Corvallis.
And Stoops got canned.
What's ahead with defensive coordinator Tim Kish installed as interim coach? Well, the Wildcats have a bye week to digest the coaching change. Then they play host to UCLA, another team that qualifies as beatable.
If the Wildcats end their 10-game losing streak to FBS foes on that Thursday evening, then maybe things won't be as bleak the rest of the way.
Offensive MVP: QB Nick Foles. Foles is about the only good thing for the Wildcats from the first half of the season. He's completed 72 percent of his throws and averaged 375.4 yards passing per game, with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Defensive MVP: CB Trevin Wade. The Wildcats have been terrible on defense, but Wade has bounced back from a poor junior year to play consistently. He's recorded 27 tackles with an interception and seven pass breakups.