For three-and-a-half quarters it looked as though BYU was going to cruise to a season opening win over the Arizona Wildcats. The Cougars led 15-3 before a couple of Nick Wilson touchdowns for Arizona, that gave the Wildcats a 16-15 lead. But the Cougars won the game on a Jake Oldroyd 33 yard field goal with :08 left, 18-16. Oldroyd, a true freshman, was a late addition to the BYU travel squad this week.
So what did we learn
1) Sputtering offense
After weeks of speculation Anu Solomon was named the starter at quarterback for the Wildcats. His play was uneven and the offense sputtered for much of the night. Nick Wilsons 49 yard TD run with 1:26 to play was one of the few big plays of the night. Wilson scored career TDs 26 and 27 in his Wildcat career and would finish with 138 yards.. The turnovers from Solomon make you wonder if the quarterback controversy will continue. The Wildcats had just 107 yards of offense in the first half and for the game would run 20 fewer plays than the Cougars. That can’t happen.
2)Defense worked OT
The final stats showed the Arizona Wildcat defense was on the field entirely too much (37:39). They looked like they were out of gas in the closing moments. There was a bend-don’t-break mentality under new Cats defensive coordinator Marcel Yates. “Holding” BYU to just over 400 yards of offense may not sound impressive, but Yates players kept the high octane Cougars down to just
3)Taysom Hill does it again
He’s had three injuries during his career, and somehow he always comes back. Hill and BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer put on a clinic on the final drive of the game to set up the game winning field goal. Hill would finish 21-29 for 202 yards. He was smart and efficient for the ballgame.
It looked like Rich Rod was on his way to one of the biggest victories in his time in Arizona. As hard as the Wildcats have tried to carve out a large audience in Maricopa County, winning a “home” game in Glendale would’ve gone a long ways to giving the Wildcats a boost in the metropolitan Phoenix area.
Arizona will host Grambling State next week in the home opener.