Arizona Football Today: California Preview
TUCSON, Arizona (AP) – Arizona’s tight calls are on the rise. The Wildcats had a strong first half against Washington two weeks ago and a strong finish against Southern California last weekend.
Only one thing is missing: a victory.
While the Wildcats have played better in the past few weeks, they keep finding ways to get in their own way and expand their school record losing streak to 20 games in a row.
“Not where we want to be at this point in the season, but we’re building it up,” said Arizona coach Jedd Fisch. “You can see we’re putting together some good games.”
The Wildcats’ next chance to end the nation’s longest losing streak is Saturday afternoon when the Wildcats (0-8, 0-5 Pac-12) receive California.
Arizona played its best offensive game of the season and set the season highs with 466 yards and 34 points. The Wildcats recovered from a 12-point half-time deficit but couldn’t quite make it back and lost 41:34.
“You can see what they are doing offensively, they are difficult to defend,” said Cal coach Justin Wilcox. “They have speed at the receiver and they find ways to get the guys the ball in space and also use some deception.”
After some fights early in the season, the bears (3-5, 2-3) seem to have found their way over the past few weeks. They closed Colorado for a 26-3 win on October 23rd and outlasted Oregon State 39-25 last week.
“We’re definitely improving,” said Wilcox. “There are guys who develop and make some big games in the game that show off a little.”
The Bears will be understaffed against Arizona, however. Several players entered the COVID-19 log on Thursday and will not be available to play. The school did not announce which players will be canceled.
Arizona leads the all-time series with California 18-14-2
Receiver Jamarye Joiner has given Arizona another dimension as quarterback over the past few weeks, filling in a few pieces for Will Plummer.
Now the Wildcats may have to play without him.
Joiner threw a 73-yard TD pass against USC last week but sustained a right knee injury that could keep him out of Saturday’s game. Joiner came to Arizona as a quarterback before being converted to receiver, but has been a nice change from Plummer since Gunner Cruz and Jordan McCloud suffered end-of-season injuries.
Plummer had his best game of the season against the Trojans, throwing for 264 yards at 20-of-34-pass.
Cal could bring back two key players against Arizona.
Outside linebacker Cam Goode is expected to return after missing the game at Oregon State with an unknown injury. The sixth year senior is Cal’s active career ladder with 35 tackles for loss and an anchor in the bears’ defense.
Running back DeCarlos Brooks is also expected this week after missing five games. The backup led Cal at 10.9 yards per carry in the first three games before sustaining a lower body injury.
For Arizona to have a chance to end its streak, it must find a way to contain Cal quarterback Chase Garbers.
The senior has thrown 1,979 yards and 14 touchdowns with five interceptions this season. He’s also a candidacy threat, breaking Joe Kapp’s 63-year school career record, overtaken by a quarterback two weeks ago against Colorado.
Garbers is Cal’s second leading rusher with 365 yards this season and has 1,083 careers.
FACTS AND FIGURES
- Arizona has won five in a row against Cal and is 18-14-2 all-time. The Bears haven’t won in Tucson since 2002.
- Cal’s defense has allowed 315.3 yards and 18.3 points per game in the last four games after giving up 417.8 yards and 29.3 points in the first four games.
- Arizona is runner-up in the Pac-12 and 24th nationally in pass defense, allowing 193.5 yards per game.
- The Bears lost a fumble this season, leading the Pac-12 and finishing second on the FBS.
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