“Yo, O, you going to lend a hand around here?”
Photo by Chris Morrison/US Presswire

As you were watching the Oregon/Stanford game what was running through your mind?

A) Both these teams stink. Arizona can start engraving the trophy now.

B) Looks like a couple more 10-9 games are coming.

C) Luck a Duck… The Cats might have to score 60 to beat these guys!

Yes, the Wildcat defense is better than expected. Some are even calling it the best in the league. But nobody is going to completely shut down the Ducks and Cardinal. The Arizona D played Oregon as well as anyone in the Pac-10 last year and still needed 31 points just to get to overtime. Stanford dropped 38 on the Cats. And both those games were at Arizona Stadium.

There’s no getting around it: the Wildcats are going to have to score a lot of points if they want to remain a contender in this conference.

Can they?

From the spring game, all through training camp and after the Toledo and Citadel games the answer would have been a resounding yes. The 34 points against Iowa look impressive but the defense and special teams did the bulk of the lifting. Then we all saw what happened against Cal.

Anyone can score when given a short field. The sign of a good offense is being able to drive the length of the field. To try and compare the Nick Foles/Juron Criner-led offense with the TuiThomas era I took a look at all drives starting from between the Arizona 10-yard-line and the Arizona 40. All field goal attempts count for the offense and drives to run out the clock at the end of a half are left out.

Only the toughest out-of-conference game each year is included and all Washington State games have been removed. The 2009 numbers only include Foles’ starts and I also ignored the Holiday Bowl since I’m still not sure the team was even there.

Year Drives Scoring
Drives
% TD
Drives
%
2007 85 23 27% 15 18%
2008 76 26 34% 18 24%
2009 71 21 30% 13 18%
2010 21 6 29% 2 10%

The 2009 offense was very similar to that of the 5-7 team of 2007. The 2010 offense thus far is producing scoring opportunities at the same rate as last year but the touchdown percentage is down.

Granted, it’s a small sample size for 2010 but with all the returning starters on offense, this unit was supposed to dominate and it hasn’t happened yet.

At least not until the end of the game. What’s interesting is the only long touchdown drives in the last two games were the two game-winners.

So what’s wrong during the other 3.75 quarters? The easy excuse is injuries. Taimi Tutogi has been out most of the year, Travis Cobb missed the Cal game and Criner hasn’t been able to explode after the catch on short routes.

The other simple solution is discipline. Cut the penalties, limit the turnovers and the good drives turn into scoring drives and the scoring drives turn into touchdowns.

The bottom line is if the above issues are going away it needs to happen this week. After four games and a bye week you need to be at full speed. If Criner and Cobb aren’t 100%, or if holding penalties are still killing drives against Oregon State it’s a really bad sign.

For good or bad, the Arizona offense you see this Saturday is probably the Arizona offense you’re going to be stuck with the rest of the year. Hopefully it’s Duck worthy.

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Say hello to Your Top-10 Arizona Wildcats.

We knew the potential was there to move up during an idle week but it was surprising to see the Cats jump all the way to #9. So it took one additional win and a well-timed bye for Arizona to claim the same ranking that Iowa brought on its trip to Tucson.

Why is the UA lagging a bit in the coaches’ poll? Well, it’s a positive indicator that we didn’t have to bring out this feature until now, but it’s time for another installment of…

Things Nobody Else Does

Mike Stoops is a voter this year in the USA Today coaches poll. He had a chance to help his team achieve the highest ranking of his career…and he didn’t turn in his ballot. You think Gabrielle Giffords and Jesse Kelly are going to have a hard time remembering to swing by the polling place on Nov. 2?

It says the USA Today couldn’t even find him. Should we be concerned? Do we put out an APB for Stoops and his hanging chad? Only at Arizona.

Speaking of the rankings, how annoyed is Oregon State right now? The Beavers bounce back to win their Pac-10 opener only to learn they’re going to be playing their third top ten team in five games, all on the road.

In other Pac-10 news, with ASU’s record dropping to 2-3 on the year coach Dennis Erickson has achieved a remarkable feat. He has managed to turn a 10-3 season (and an 8-0 start) into a .500 career record (21-21) at Arizona State.

On the flip side, if Arizona can win its next two games Mike Stoops will have turned a 6-16 start into a .500 career record (he’s currently 37-39). Like two ships passing in the night…

Now the guy just has to learn how to vote for himself.