The explosive plays and pinpoint passing that marked the majority of Khalil Tate’s previous six games went missing at Autzen Stadium. Tate gained just 32 rushing yards after eclipsing 100 six straight times (including three games with 200-plus). He completed just over 50 percent of his passes (18 of 35) with one TD and two interceptions. Tate was just a hair late on several passes, enabling Oregon’s athletic defensive backs to make up ground and break them up.
Nick Wilson continued his recent surge, rushing for a team-high 73 yards on 17 carries. He looked like vintage Wilson on 18- and 20-yard TD runs in the first half. J.J. Taylor averaged 5.5 yards on 10 carries but fumbled in the third quarter (recovered by Arizona). Zach Green again proved to be an effective goal-line runner, turning one his two total totes into a touchdown.
Not the best night for this group. They combined for 17 catches, 151 yards and a touchdown but often had trouble gaining separation. Each of Arizona’s top three receivers – Shun Brown, Tony Ellison and Shawn Poindexter – couldn’t come down with a catchable ball. TE Jamie Nunley also had a drop. Ellison led the group with six catches for 52 yards and a TD.
Arizona rushed for 171 yards – a respectable total for most teams but not these Wildcats, whose average entering Saturday was 347.7. The rushing lanes that had been there regularly for Tate and others simply did not materialize. Tate also got sacked twice. Communication was not an issue despite the crowd noise. Center Nathan Eldridge showed great effort and awareness to capture Taylor’s fumble.
The front struggled for most of the night and lost bodies along the way. None of the starting defensive linemen – Justin Belknap, Luca Bruno and Dereck Boles – was able to finish the game. The Ducks gashed the Wildcats for 353 rushing yards and five touchdowns, averaging 7.1 yards per attempt. QB Justin Herbert did not face consistent pressure. Kylan Wilborn had Arizona’s lone sack. Colin Schooler was a bright spot with a team-high 12 tackles, including three for losses.
Herbert, playing his first game in six weeks, completed 14 of 21 passes for 235 yards. The DBs again had trouble locating the ball. Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles might have had his worst game as a Wildcat, surrendering a touchdown and failing, along with fellow safety Troy Young, to turn around in time to avoid a critical pass-interference penalty. Even the unit’s best play turned into a negative: Dane Cruikshank cost himself and his team a touchdown by taunting an Oregon player en route to the end zone after an interception.
Punting continues to be a problem. Josh Pollack averaged just 33.0 yards on four punts, with a long of 38. With Pollack struggling, Arizona turned to Jake Glatting, whose lone attempt traveled just 19 yards. TE Trevor Wood had the best punt of the night, a 36-yarder that died at the Oregon 6. Five times the Ducks gained possession at their 43-yard line or better after punts or kickoffs. Tyrell Johnson did have a season-long 62-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats did not play with the poise needed to win an intense road game, and that falls at least partially on Rich Rodriguez and his staff. Arizona scored with ease on its first possession but struggled to recapture that rhythm against an Oregon defense that seemed a step ahead most of the night. Rodriguez’s decision to punt on fourth-and-4 from the Ducks’ 42 on the first possession of the second half was questionable. Why were Tate, Wilson and other starters in the game down 20 with 2:37 to play?