Game 1 Thoughts

  • Play calling (both offensive and defensive) was extremely conservative (bordering on passive). Defense has a plausible explanation: Arizona’s QB play is bad. Offense, not so much.

  • My concern with the defensive play calling is that Ed Oliver masks a lot of weaknesses, which is to say we can get pressure w/o blitzing much. This is lazy coaching IMO. The way to maximize Oliver’s effectiveness is to bring multiple packages that free up others to make plays. Ed is ed, he will make plays no matter what. Did anyone else notice how few plays our LBs (especially Matt Adams) made last night? Big change from a year ago.

  • Kyle Allen is the real deal. That said, he suffers from the same malady most guys with super accurate cannons tend to have: be believes he can thread every needle, which leads to some poor decisions.

  • It appears that Kenny Guiton doesn’t have the same emphasis on blocking as our previous staff. Arizona’s DBs (who were somewhat smaller than I expected) were way more physical than our WRs. Main reason bubble screens were unsuccessful.

  • OL, DL played well enough, but I am concerned that playcalling will limit effectiveness, especially DL.

  • Energy wasn’t low but it wasn’t high either. I generally like MA’s businesslike approach, but this is a younger team. Ideally, a team leader, (Garrett Davis maybe?) can be a little more vocal and raise the players’ energy.

  • If the offensive playcalls/formations must remain vanilla, the tight end needs to be utilized more.


Arizona was loaded with speed and we appeared to be a little slower on defense this year. Not sure if we are physically slower are just unsure of ourselves. No way we were going to blitz this bunch too much because of their quick running game, so I thought the conservative pace for our opener was decent, especially when you have a great one like Oliver to help conceal your deficiencies…
On offense I agree the play calling was conservative, but the simple fact was that our recievers for whatever reason were not getting space in the second half.
It appears to me Arizona made adjustments and took our bubble screens away. I personally thought the two offensive pass interferences against us were terrible…I don’t think I have ever seen a game with that many interference calls.
Catalon had that one decent run towards the end, but I can’t give him a very good grade for the entire game. We definitely need an upgrade to our running game. Birden ran hard and smart and seemed to find the holes but it tells you something when a walk on is your best running back.
I thought the offensive line was pretty good for a first game and I thought our receivers were adequate but certainly not uncontainable.
The play calling was conservative, but with a new quarterback and it being the first game in hostile territory I don’t have a problem with that either. Arizona ended up being the team that shot itself in the foot with key fumbles and the safety, so the conservative play calling on both sides picked us up a victory, which is the reason we played the game.
Can’t wait to see this team develop as the year goes on…we could sure use King in the slot when he returns…


When a team like NAU puts up 300 yards passing on these guys. Why would you not spend at least a few series just passing the ball. I just don’t get it.


The offensive play calling was so predictable on 3rd and short, short screen pass to the sidelines. San Diego State jumped on 1 of those passes in the Bowl game last season, if I am not mistaken. You have to mix it up.

Kyle Allen - wait and see. 1st pick was a horrible decision, too many defenders near the receiver.

Defense - need to put more pressure on the passing plays. Arizona QBs had time to throw in the second half.

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Here’s a more developed version of what I said immediately after the game:

  1. Ed Oliver is a weapon of mass destruction. He should be outlawed immediately. Holding a team to 152 rush yards on 39 carries when you’re rushing 3 or 4 guys all game says very good things about our DL.

  2. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the offense in a lot of ways. I was expecting our OL to get exposed now that they don’t have Greg Ward scrambling around back there to make up for shoddy blocking, but that didn’t happen. We had a pretty average running game, and (though I haven’t found stats to confirm this) I don’t think Allen took a sack all night. Admittedly, though, the latter stat is likely due as much to the game plan as the OL play – you can’t really sack the QB on a bubble screen.

  3. I think the offense’s problems lay more in execution than play design. Taking a bubble screen up your teammate’s butthole on 3rd and short was bad.

  4. The defense (as a whole) was lucky, not good. If Arizona’s QB was even decently accurate, they get 30+ hung on them. I’m not super concerned with the lack of pressure because the Arizona offense was getting the ball out so fast I’m not sure it would have made a difference, but the fact that the defense was dropping 7 or 8 guys into coverage and still getting shredded is not a good sign.

  5. It’s really weird how the same people on this board will scream until they’re red in the face about not being aggressive enough on offense and then insist the coach made the wrong decision by going for it on 4th and 5 from the 35.

  6. The refs were awful.


CExcept for Ed Oliver, the drop in intensity and discipline is glaring. May be the Harvey effect. Let’s see how we come through for Rice

OLB play was non existent …chasing behind AZ running back the entire game. Need to re-evaluate personnel assignment here

QB had good flashes, but it’s what we saw spring game. it’s a turnover machine…

OL. Didn’t see much improvement here from last season.

Punter was great. Dane Roy was fantastic.
Jersey Winchester played solid as well.

Coaching; credit, stayed with the game plan and won the game.

Penalties are are coachable miscues . …You would have to go to … Levine years to see these amount of penalties.

Biggest concerns from this game:

  1. Penalties
  2. Kicker
  3. Secondary
  4. Linebackers
  5. Turnovers by QB

Agreed. Regarding your point about defensive speed, I saw alot of thinking going on.

For example, on one defensive play the Safety came in with a blitz and as soon as he got to the line, he just slowed down and stood up. The QB doesn’t have a black jersey in game’s right. It was a strange play and I started to notice that quite a bit. They are not just reacting. I hope that this will get fixed as the season progresses and they gain confidence.

I agree that the play calling on offense was very conservative. Much too much so late in the game. I think K. Allen has the size and arm to be as good as anybody but he can’t force throws and needs to generally take care of the ball. Offensive line played reasonably well. I’d move Catalon to receiver because of his speed. He does not have the size play running back. What happened to the Burrell kid at running back? He has both speed and size.

I disagree with you on the defense. Our guys brought the wood, especially to their quarterback number 19. We do not seem to have the speed on defense like we did the last two years, which may account for the lack of blitzes. But those guys won the game. I like the special teams play with the big return and blocked kick the highlights. Glad the punter is using a more traditional motion than the running style from before. It was our first game on the road after a traumatic couple of weeks. We got the win. Very positive outcome.

According to his height and weight on the roster, he is the biggest back on the team. Either he isn’t very strong for his size or he runs too straight up and gets no leverage because I’ve never seen him come close to winning a head on collision with a defender.

On number 4, I thought the same thing about our secondary 2 years ago after we beat Tennessee Tech. later that year, Navy got most of their TDs, maybe all - can’t remember, off of medium to long passes and YAC. TT will be a challenge as will Memphis, SMU, Tulsa, Navy.
On number 5, I think these are two different things. Going for it on 4th and 5 isn’t aggressive if your offense has been anemic all half, it’s foolish unless the game is literally on the line which it wasn’t. The play calling bewilders me too. In my mind, aggressive is running all kinds of plays and formations and sticking with what works until they stop it. We had a few run plays that worked but pass routes that gained more than 5 or 6 didn’t seem to be repeated unless it was the bubble screen which Zona shut down in the second half. How many deep balls did our guys see? Not that many.

My summary - Offense seemed to come to life late in first half only to vanish (or have the rug pulled out from under them?) in 2nd half. D seemed OK as in they bent but didn’t break. Saw too much over-pursuit (yeah, Taylor and company are small and shifty but still an extra week to prepare) and missed tackles. In second half, I think their defensive coaches out-coached our offensive coaches…They made better adjustments.

Nevertheless, in 2015 I expected Louisville to light up our secondary after they way they played Tenn Tech, and yes, they put up 31, but we won. So, I remain hopeful that, if we improve against Rice (fewer penalties, open the playbook past chapter 1) and survive TT, we’ll have a very good season.

Catalon dances too much at the LOS.

Dillon hits the hole quick. If he had been in at the goal line that fist successful drive to the 1, we would have scored. But they had Catalon in there and he got stood up at the goal.


I gotta ask one more time, how are the ones defending the offense with stuff like “it’s new” or “they have to work on executing” are still down the throats of the defense? Not only is it a new defense with a whole new secondary but they still did a great job defensing the deep balls. Two of them were going to be TDs for sure, one ended up a take away and the other was stripped from the guy as he caught it back of the endzone. Yes, there was a couple of plays where they obviously blew coverage or miscommunicated that Arizona should have gotten something from but they more than made up for it on so many other occasions.

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  1. We Won
  2. We looked rusty, not dominant, but considering we didn’t play a weaker Week 1 opponent to get out the rust, a lot of trauma with the hurricane, I am happy and will see what type of destruction we put upon Rice.
  3. We won on the road
  4. We beat a Pac 12 team

Exactly what it is. Catalon would be the better back if he just hit the hole harder. Its like he waits for the perfect gap to run. Also always seems to look to bounce it outside.

He needs to hit the hole with authority. As is he seems to walk up to the line to see what’s there and try to push his way through. Moreover, he’s always vertical. He needs to lean into it much more and, again, charge into it. It’s all about making decisions. Sad to say, but right now Birden is the better of the backs because he attacks the hole and makes a play where sometimes one really is not there. Catalon should be a beast. Earl Campbell scared his linemen because they knew that if there was no hole when Campbell got the he would knock them down and run over them. That was an incentive not to have Earl Campbell smash into you from the rear. Still works.


I have not seen anyone talk about the AZ defense. This is probably the biggest fastest and best defense we will play all year
Only conference member who stacks up with Az in the west is Memphis in the east temple. No one is taking that into consideration in this discussion
Also one of the best offensive lines we will see all year. Yes we were lucky they didn’t have better qb play but they had the best runnning game we will see all year and that even goes for navy. Next week rice qb will be playing from a designed roll out to keep Oliver from just sacking him on every down
Techs qb will spend more time on the ground and will have very few chances to throw a deep.ball
I think this board has severely underestimated the opponent we just beat

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  1. I really dislike read/option. I really miss Dana’s offense.

  2. I thought the o-line and the running game was better than last year.

  3. We proved once again that can hang with and beat P5 programs.

  4. Allen needs to make better choices. Throw it in the stands if covered…

  5. Punting and returning was good.

Yes, we won the game with great special teams play. Just shows how important it is.

They may be the fastest but I am not sure they will be the biggest. The UH radio crew was talking about how small the Arizona DL was – something about they did not have a starter over 300 lbs and some in the 260 lb range. I do not have a 2-deep for AZ to look up the size of their players. I hope this smaller DL is not masking an OL problem for UH that will come out when they face a bigger DL. I know that they are not picked to do well in the PAC12 but I am surprised everyone is discounting this win. So they gave up a million yards to NAU – they beat them 62-24. USC struggled with Western Michigan in Week 1 (tied at 21 entering the 4th quarter and gave up 350 yards to them) but came back and thumped Stanford the next week. I am not ready to judge any team after week 1 (except the Longhorns – they are overrated and terrible). Let’s give them a few more games before we write them off as a “weaker” P5 team.

I will say that I liked their small freshman RB. His quickness is what the offense is missing right now. Hopefully, King will return soon and add a little speed to the offense.

As for the offensive play calling, this appeared to be a continuation of the last two seasons. Major and the former coach said they wanted to have a power run game and then make the defense run sideline to sideline so we will continue to see bubble screens – maybe this will set up more downfield attempts than in prior seasons with Allen at the controls.

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