UA FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Red zone failures left Cats black and blue

2012-09-24T00:00:00Z 2012-09-24T10:54:50Z Arizona football: Red zone failures left Cats black and blueRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

EUGENE, Ore. - Rich Rodriguez walked into a tiny, dimly-lit room in the bowels of Autzen Stadium late Saturday night and found a folding chair. With a sigh, he sat down.

For the next 4 minutes and 28 seconds, the Arizona Wildcats' first-year coach tried to explain exactly what had happened to his vaunted offense.

Rodriguez looked - and, frankly, sounded - like a man being interrogated.

His best explanation for Saturday's 49-0 loss to Oregon: "We had a couple turnovers, we can't execute a chip-shot field goal, all that stuff. I mean, I'm not totally discouraged because I think we played hard until the end - but this is embarrassing."

Answers were in short supply.

Six times on Saturday, quarterback Matt Scott drove the offense inside the Ducks' 20-yard line; six times, the Wildcats were shut out.

Arizona (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) must improve its red zone offense, and fast, to have a chance at a successful season. Through four games, the Wildcats have scored on 16 of their 26 trips inside the opponents' 20; just 12 have been touchdowns.

Rodriguez will continue to stress it as the Wildcats prepare for No. 18 Oregon State.

"We can't practice more red zone stuff, probably, than we're already doing," he said. "It's a matter of putting us in the right spots and giving ourselves a chance."

Arizona can start by:

• Protecting the ball. The Wildcats prided themselves on ball security through the first three weeks of the season, and were rewarded with a perfect record.

Things turned on them Saturday: Scott was intercepted three times, once in the red zone, and the Wildcats turned the ball over five times.

Four of Arizona's five turnovers took place on Oregon's side of the field; the Ducks turned the takeaways into 31 points. Scott spent most of the game battling a hip injury that likely limited his effectiveness and ability to run.

• Mixing it up: The Wildcats attempted 12 runs and eight passes in their 20 red zone plays from scrimmage. (Kyle Dugandzic's muffed snap on a field goal attempt was counted as a minus-7-yard rushing attempt.) Amazingly, just two different UA players - Scott and running back Ka'Deem Carey - touched the ball on those 20 plays.

The Ducks, meanwhile, spread the ball - and were successful.

Oregon converted on all five of its red-zone trips Saturday. Their scores coming from four different players: Wide receiver Daryle Hawkins, tight end Colt Lyerla and quarterback Bryan Bennett scored touchdowns, and kicker Rob Beard hit two field goals. Seven different Ducks ran the ball Saturday, and nine players caught passes.

"They're athletic and they play hard and they're well-coached and they do a good job," Rodriguez said. "But we helped 'em."

• Taking the points - or punting on the idea of kicking: Saturday's struggles began with the kicking game. The Wildcats failed to convert two field goal attempts in the first half - Dugandzic muffed a snap on the first try, and John Bonano kicked the second one low, where it was blocked by Oregon's Wade Keliikipi. Had both kicks connected - and that's a big if, given the Wildcats' struggles - the UA would have led 3-0 and then trailed 7-6.

"To beat a team like Oregon, you gotta finish off those drives," Rodriguez said. "We had a lot of opportunities, especially early, and couldn't do it."

Stumbling on every trip

Arizona's six red zone trips

Trip 1, first quarter

• Matt Scott 9-yard run to Oregon's 10-yard line

• Scott 6-yard run to Oregon's 4

• No gain by Ka'Deem Carey

• Incomplete pass by Scott

• Minus-7-yard run by Kyle Dugandzic (muffed snap on field goal attempt)

Trip 2, first quarter

• Scott intercepted by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu at Oregon's 12-yard line.

Trip 3, first quarter

• Scott 3-yard run to Oregon's 9-yard line

• Incomplete pass by Scott (pass interference called on Oregon)

• 2-yard loss by Carey

• 2-yard gain by Carey

• Incomplete pass by Scott

• 1-yard loss by Scott

Trip 4, second quarter

• 1-yard loss by Carey, to Oregon's 20-yard line

• Incomplete pass by Scott

• Scott, 7-yard pass to Carey to Oregon's 13

• Blocked field goal by Oregon

Trip 5, third quarter

• 2-yard gain by Carey, to Oregon's 16-yard line

• 1-yard run by Carey

• False start penalty on Arizona

• Incomplete pass by Scott

• Scott intercepted by Kiko Alonso at Oregon's 12

Trip 6, fourth quarter

• 1-yard run by Carey, to Oregon's 14-yard line

• No gain by Carey on fourth down

Red zone blues

The Arizona Wildcats made six trips to the red zone Saturday night, but failed to score a point. Inside the Ducks' 20, they:

• Rushed 13 times for 13 yards

• Completed 1 of 8 passes for seven yards, and were intercepted twice

• Had one field goal blocked

• Muffed a snap on a field goal attempt

• Committed one penalty

Note: The Wildcats were assessed a minus-7-yard rush in the first quarter when holder Kyle Dugandzic muffed a snap on a field goal attempt.

Up next

• What: Oregon State at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona: Comcast (Ch 103); Cox (Ch 75); Dish Network (contact for info); DirecTV, not available

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

In need of a finish

Arizona's scoring percentages in the red zone, since 2009:

2012

62 percent (16 for 26), 12 TDs (through four games)

2011

81 percent (38 for 47), 32 TDs

2010

72 percent (39 for 54), 30 TDs

2009

76 percent 41 for 54, 27 TDs

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