First let me say that I don't have the technical football knowledge of some of the people on this site. And then there's also the possibility that I'm going too much on emotion, or that I'm seeing things too much in a one dimensional way, or maybe that I'm just a victim of wishful thinking. Nonetheless I left the game at the Rose Bowl today feeling very encouraged.
I've been to all the home games in the last two years in addition to the game in Austin, and I saw something that I haven't seen up to this point in the Rick Neuheisel era and that is the makings of a competent balanced offense that can pass as well as run. Yes, the offense has looked good at times such as the second half at Texas and against Washington St., but it was almost all on the ground and one dimensional. But today there was a qualitative difference, 228 yards passing against a very good defense not to mention that beautiful 68 yard touchdown pass. Yes there needs to be improvement in the short passing game, but I think it's all going to come together. And the pass protection was much improved with no sack allowed until late in the fourth quarter. I think the passing game is going to continue to improve and with our capable running backs I think we are going to be a good offensive football team. It might take until next year to fully come to fruition, but it's going to happen.
Also I think some people are overlooking whom we were playing. Arizona is a top 15 team only 2 points short of being undefeated, and they are up there with Oregon and Stanford as one of the three best teams in our conference. They rank 7th in the nation in scoring defense, and the most points they have given up in a game this year is 29 to Oregon St. Iowa a very good offensive team got 27. That was one of the better defensive teams in the country we were playing against today, and our offense was competitive.
Why do I see this as so significant? Because I think our key problem the last three years has been our lack of offense. Last year we had one of the best defenses in the Pac 10, but it wasn't enough, because we couldn't put points up on the board. Frankly I'm not really too concerned about our defense. I know, some of you may think I'm crazy, but when was the defense so bad? It was outstanding against Houston and against Texas; It gave up 35 to Stanford but really only 28, since one touchdown was from a take away from Kevin Prince. The least Stanford has scored in a game this year is 31 against Oregon. And what about Oregon? We gave them two fumbles inside the 10, but it doesn't really matter, because Oregon scores 50 some points on just about everyone, like 53 tonight at the Coliseum. They will likely go down as one of the best offensive teams in the history of college football. Yes, the defense wasn't too hot against Cal, but Cal is a weird team who often plays like a top 10 team at home. And at Cal our biggest problem again was the lack of offense. And today? Well Arizona is a very good offensive team, and yes we gave up too much yardage, but our defense is depleted by injuries, and they played today with a lot of heart, and with a little more offense, we could have won the game. And I think Scott may have been tougher for us than Foles. He's an excellent running quarterback and is very elusive and I think creates more problems for the defense. I was very impressed with him.
When we are a consistently good offensive football team I think our defense will be good enough to win. And the defense is young and is going to improve. Also with the offense I don't see it so much as a matter of to what degree we are or are not conservative but rather more as a matter of capability and execution. If you have a quarterback who can throw the long bomb, receivers that can get open and catch it, and an offensive line that gives adequate protection then you can go with that. if you have an offense that has the capability of giving you a reasonable change to make fourth and five then you can go for it in certain game situations. If you don't have those capabilities then you are going to be worse off taking those chances. The more capability your offense has the more you can open things up and take more chances, because the probabilities then work out in your favor.
But to conclude up till this year we couldn't run the ball with any consistency. Then we showed real improvement in the running game but had no passing game. Now we finally see the beginning of a productive passing game to go with the running game, and I think we are seeing the evolution towards being a good offensive football team. And with the young talent we have on defense continuing to improve I can see all of the parts of the puzzle coming together, and I'm really confident it's going to happen.