The Arizona Wildcats made one of the biggest splashes this offseason by hiring Rich Rodriguez as their new coach. Optimism is high in Tucson. Does this mean it’s a college football school now instead of a college basketball University? Not so much. Both sports have been kind of down lately, and I don’t expect the football team to rebound this year.
Maybe RichRod has a plan, and maybe that plan will work in the wide open Pac-12, but not this year. He still doesn’t have enough talent. Plus he has a record of 9-23 during his first year at a school.
2011 was: a huge disappoint. The Cats couldn’t run the ball, ranking 114th, although their passing game #3, and powerful enough to generate points and yards. However, Zona just could not stop anybody and they finished 4-8, just 2-7 in conference. And much more was expected. Stoops was fired for good reason. Is Rodriguez and his zone-option the answer? We won’t really find out this season/
2012 will go smoothly if: The defense handles the transition on breaking in 8 new starters and finds a way to improve the 110th ranked pass defense, 110 in total defense, 107th overall. Even more important will be how new starting QB Matt Scott steps in for Nick Foles and runs the offense. Oh, and there’s a new starters at every wideout position too. The strength of last year’s team, the passing attack, is now gone.
2012 will be rough if: There’s turnover all over the depth chart, and that much turnover could lead to turnovers on the field; which will equal a lot of losses. The new regime has to deal with a new QB and all new WR And he’s got to break in new blood all over the defensive front seven. That’s a lot to deal with all at the same time. RichRod brought his defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel with him, and the 3-3-5 formation on base. That 5 is largely to help out a very weak secondary.
BMOCs: new starting QB Matt Scott, RB Ka’Deem Carey, LB Brian Wagner, an Akron transfer and the nation’s leading returning tackler, C Kyle Quinn, CB Jonathan McKnight
All-name team: S Tra’mayne Bondurant (also a BMOC) CB Shaquille Richardson
Bottom Line: There are a ton of question marks on both sides of the ball, but contending for a bowl is a possibility. They’ll probably finish in the 5-7 to 7-5 range and at least a game or two better than last season. Yes, even despite losing all their key offensive skill position guys. Hey, the OL is pretty much all back, and that has to count for something, right?
Rankings: Athlon- 43 Lindy’s- 59
All the 77s
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Fox Sports, MSN, Walter Football and Yardbarker
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too