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3 big takeaways from the Arizona Wildcats' loss to BYU in Glendale

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Posted at 11:24 PM, Sep 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-04 02:24:05-04

The Arizona Wildcats nearly stole a victory in a game they appeared to have no business winning.

UA rallied from a 15-3 fourth-quarter deficit to take a 16-15 lead against the BYU Cougars, only to have its hopes dashed with a last-second 33-yard field goal, as the Cougars upended the Cats 18-16 during the Cactus Kickoff Classic in front of over 50,000 fans at University of Phoenix Stadium.

With the loss, the Wildcats fell to 0-1 on the season and 0-2 all-time at University of Phoenix Stadium. They lost to Boise State in the 2015 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale.

Here are three big takeaways from the Cactus Kickoff.

1. Anu wasn't good enough.

He didn't have time to throw for most of the night (more on this below), but Wildcat fans have come to expect more from Anu Solomon. The junior quarterback just didn't make good decisions throughout Saturday's game, taking a number sacks and making some ill-advised throws when he did have time to find an open receiver.

"This loss is on me. I've got to step it up," Solomon said after the game.

For the game, Solomon completed 20 of 30 passes for 213 yards but threw a pair of interceptions. Those turnovers were the difference in the game against a BYU team that is hardly an offensive juggernaut but did nothing to shoot itself in the foot like the Wildcats did.

2. Offensive line problems.

Nick Wilson put the Wildcats ahead with a 49-yard touchdown run with 1:26 to play. But for most of the night, the Wildcats' junior running back didn't have much room to maneuver. The same held true for Solomon, who was sacked four times Saturday.

The Wildcats have a ton of speed at the skill positions, but that just doesn't matter much if those players don't have time to operate or get their hands on the ball. If the Wildcats are going to be competitive in the Pac-12 South, the O-line must show dramatic improvement.

3. Defense offers hope.

They missed some tackles and were carved up by senior quarterback Taysom Hill on BYU's final possession, but for most of the night, the Wildcats' new-look defense under first-year defensive coordinator Marcel Yates was surprisingly sharp, and it was the reason the Wildcats had a chance to win late.

Yates, who previously coached at Boise State, doesn't have a ton of talent to work with, but he got the most out of what he was given Saturday. In particular, senior linebacker Paul Magloire was all over the field making tackles. The Wildcats' defense certainly isn't among the best in the Pac-12, but more performances like Saturday night's would be just fine with UA fans.