Greetings from sunny Florida. Thanks for stopping by. There are already a lot of good questions waiting for me, so we'll get started.
I don't know if you got jobbed, Ka'Deem, but you certainly had a case to be a finalist. It's hard to argue the other two guys who did get invites. Sure, you can make a case for Carey and there are arguments for and against him, but Williams went over 2,000 yards and Mason is within 100 yards of Carey and scored 23 touchdowns against some very good competition. I don't know if it's a bias as much as it is it's just hard to watch Arizona play a lot if you don't live on the west coast or don't have Pac-12 Network. The majority of Arizona's games started after 9 p.m., on the east coast. It's nearly impossible for a good player to stand out on a 7-5 west coast team.
I am enjoying it down here! Definitely no complaints. I was actually watching a lot last night how Carey interacts with other reporters. I think they really enjoy his honesty. The other two Doak Walker finalists gave all the politically correct answers like they didn't keep track of the other finalists, it's just an honor to be nominated and all that. Ka'Deem will tell you he keeps track all year of what others are doing, he wants to win and thinks he should. I think other reporters enjoy that breath of fresh air. As for his odds of winning. I think it's going to be tough. Based on what we've seen already with other awards, I think Williams is the heavy favorite.
I will be spending some quality time in lovely Shreveport later this month! I'm looking forward to it. It's a nice change of pace from what the UA is used to come bowl season and I think it'll be cool to see the team in a different environment and go up against an ACC team.
Bowl games typically like to avoid having teams in back-to-back years unless it's a huge draw, which Arizona isn't. I think both sides, the bowl game and the UA, wanted a change and got it. I think the idea of playing an ACC team is more appealing to the program than a matchup with Colorado State in New Mexico. It's also a higher bowl payout. I think the conference affiliation stuff can sometimes be overstated. I wouldn't read much into the UA going to Shreveport rather than NM.
I think a small case could be made that the off-field stuff hurt Carey a little bit. If he had that NAU game, he'd have 150-200 more rushing yards right now and I think it's fair to wonder if the Team Ka'Deem campaign would have started earlier in the season. I thought the UA did a good job promoting Carey when it started, but when you play on the west coast on a 7-5 team, it helps to get that campaign started as early as possible.
I talked at length about the decision with Ka'Deem and his mom last night. I think it will be very tough for him to pass up the NFL and he's likely to be projected as a top 50 pick. I will say, realistic or not, Carey really, really wants to win the Heisman or at least be a finalist. He's made it a clear goal and I think he feels genuinely snubbed for not being invited. If he comes back, which I think is about a 25 percent chance right now, that will play a huge role. But in the end, how do you pass up that chance when your health can be an issue at any moment? As for his replacement. I think it would be by committee. Jared Baker, Pierre Cormier, Zach Green and incoming freshman Nick Wilson would all battle it out in fall camp.
I was standing next to Carey when the two met. It was quick and friendly. You can tell Carey has some RichRod in him. He's happy to be friendly and cordial, but that's also his opponent in a few weeks and he wants to beat him. So he didn't want to get to know him all that well. But there is a mutual respect there and it was genuine. I didn't get the impression it was a show.
Williams has a little more size to him, but not much. They were pretty similar. Carey and Washington's Bishop Sankey, the forgotten finalist, are very similar in size.
I think B- is fair. I'd probably go solid B. I thought Rodriguez did a really good job with this team and it's pretty incredible that he has a chance to match last year's win total with a win later this month. I think the thought last year for a lot of people outside of Tucson was the UA won eight games because of Matt Scott. To lose him and Austin Hill and still possibly get to that number is pretty impressive. Depth was certainly an issue as was overall skill; I'd agree with your friends. That skill level will continue to improve over the next couple of years on the recruiting trail and there will come a point when 8 wins could be a disappointment. But for now, 7-8 wins with this team deserves a B.
Certainly the league is at a high point right now. There are some really good coaches in the conference and the Pac-12 has gotten better and better over the last few years. It certainly improved when Chris Petersen joined the league and I liked the Sarkisian hire at USC more than most. So, it is more difficult, sure, but not impossible. I'm also very curious to see what happens with Graham and ASU when they lose all those seniors and if Mark Helfrich can keep things rolling at Oregon.
This has become a bigger and bigger issue lately. Fans have made it pretty clear they'd like to see a team from a BCS conference on the nonconference schedule, but I don't think it's happening any time soon. I think Rodriguez and Byrne think it's more valuable to have a great chance at three wins in the noncon part of the schedule right now than it is to play a big-name school. As the program improves, that could certainly change. BYU isn't from a big-time conference, but that certainly won't be a gimme when that series starts.
There will be quite a logjam at WR. You are right about that, even if some of those things happen. But that's a good thing and so many variables can change from now to the start of the season as we saw last year with Hill getting hurt, Slavin leaving and Richards missing the first three games. I wouldn't be shocked to see Denson play defense next year. I've always thought he's a better corner than receiver and he's really, really good at both. If a guy transferred, it wouldn't surprise me, but things are just going to have to play out. The one situation I can't see is Grant or Phillips redshirting. They both were very good this season and should just keep getting better.
I think it should be a fun matchup. The Williams-Carey matchup is what makes it and I'm guessing both of those guys won't disappoint. I actually think Arizona matches up pretty well with BC. Though some power runners like Sankey, Redd and even Jack have given the Wildcats issues at times. It's also good to get the UA outside the Pac-12 bubble and let some more people see them on an ESPN game on New Years Eve Day.
I don't see the 3-3-5 going anywhere if that's what the question is. That's what Jeff Casteel uses and teaches and what Rich Rodriguez believes in. I think they're recruiting for it and Arizona's defense should improve as the personnel gets better. I think patience is a must with this style of defense.
The flip side of that though is how many guys are recovering from injuries and such from the season. There's no way a lot of those guys would be ready to get back after it three weeks after the season ends. Even last year with it starting in early March, a ton of guys had to miss time in spring ball, recovering from offseason injuries or surgeries. These guys are banged up and need some time to rest.
Jalen Tabor, the 5-star corner from D.C., would be a very nice Christmas present for the staff. I think Arizona is really in the mix for him and Rodriguez visited him earlier this week. Other than him, I don't expect to many other guys at this point. There will surely be a couple of commits who don't end up in Tucson, but it's hard to predict who that will be now. They really want to hold on to California preps Jamardre Cobb, Marquis Ware and Naijiel Hale. Those are the big three to watch. They've all said they're still solid with UA.
It's going to be as wide open as this year, I think. If Anu Solomon works real hard and impresses the coaches in the spring, I think it'll be his job to lose. He's had a year to learn the system and it can not be overstated how important getting that freshman year to redshirt is. The talent is there for him and the understanding of the offense should be too. Connor Brewer will certainly be a candidate. Jesse Scroggins and Javelle Allen will, in my opinion, be the underdogs, but will have a chance.
Jake Casteel was the middle linebacker for the state champions at Salpointe Catholic and is a really good high school player. I think it's more likely he goes to a Division II school back near his home of West Virginia than walks on at the UA, but I haven't looked into it much yet.
The Pac-12 deserved more respect this season, I agree. You can argue that the league had the best WR in the country (Cooks) and best RB (Carey) plus Marcus Mariota, Anthony Barr, and some other really talented guys. But that's just how it goes. It's tough for folks to on the east coast to see the Pac-12 games. What hurt the league this year was so many of its marquee games were at night, not just the lesser matchups. People just aren't staying up until 10 p.m., on the east to watch a full football game.
This is definitely Bruce Pascoe territory as I like to say, but I do love hoops. Before the season I think I had Kansas, Ok State, Duke and Kentucky. 1/4 way through let's go Ok State, Arizona, Kentucky and (let's have some fun with this one)....Oregon.
My man JG has an alias! He should be honored. JG does love himself some Myles Jack. But boy, I'd have a hard time thinking even he agreed with that pick. Thomas Tyner would have been my pick and I think even Nate Phillips would have been a better selection. Jack was great, but he shouldn't have won that award.
I can't imagine ASU being as good next year as it was this year. The Devils just lose so much on defense and I don't see how you can replace all that. I could be wrong, because I didn't expect them to have as good of a year this year as they did, but I think they come down to earth a little bit next year. It will be nice for them to still have Taylor Kelly calling the shots and D.J. Foster showed the past two games he can be a serious weapon.
Thanks for all the questions everyone. It was fun chatting with you. Time to head to Disney to see Mr. Carey. I'll have some pictures and such up on the blog later tonight. Talk soon!