Hi all! I'm Zack Rosenblatt, I'll be running this chat from Tucson throughout the game, and during home games I'll be live from Arizona Stadium.
A little background about myself: I've been at the Star for about a year and half after graduating from the UofA in May 2013. I'm originally from Cherry Hill, NJ, which is just outside of Philadelphia. So, I love cheesesteaks. And Sonoran hot dogs. Big Sonoran hot dog fan. Like, I love them.
Anyway, for the Star, I cover a little bit of this (Arizona football, women's basketball, and volleyball especially) and a little bit of that (Pima College, high school football, other miscellaneous stuff). Looking forward to chatting with you all throughout this game tonight, and the rest of the season going forward!
You can follow me on Twitter @ZackBlatt as well for more info. But, without further adieu, let's get this thing going!
@Frank: Great question. Speaking generally, Houston was SUPPOSED to be good this season. Who knows if it pans out that way. USA Today had Houston as its No. 38-ranked team in the nation in their pre-season countdown, so not too shabby.
I don't think anyone expected a 27-7 loss to UTSA, but based on everything we've heard from Rich Rodriguez, from our own Daniel Berk, coupled with the presence of Larry Coker, I tend to believe that the Roadrunners are for real, and at minimum a program on the rise.
@Jsamm: True, but don't you think Oregon has kind of earned that pub? Arizona certainly is on the rise, but they have a LOOOOOOOOOONG way to go before they reach the level of the Ducks, and amount of respect they've garnered as a program in recent years. Consider, Rich Rodriguez is held in high regard for leading the UA to back-to-back 8-win seasons, and the city of Tucson loves him...
On the other hand, Mark Helfrich goes 11-2 in the first year post-Chip Kelly, the Ducks miss a BCS bowl, and fans in Eugene are already calling for his head.
@Shane: According to my guy Daniel Berk, who's out in San Antonio with the great Greg Hansen, Jones-Grigsby is on the field for pre-game warm-ups, but it is unclear whether he will play or not. If Jones-Grigsby isn't good to go, Wilson would likely start, and it will be a big test for him as a true freshman. The coaches seem to be fairly confident in him, though.
@Jsamm: I don't think that's entirely true. Oregon is coming from a different angle than the Wildcats, and considering the shape Mike Stoops left the program in when Coach Rodriguez arrived, I would say the UA is certainly on track to become very competitive over the next few years. It remains to be seen what their ceiling is, though.
As Berk just said on Twitter, redshirt freshmen offensive lineman Jacob Alsadek, who started last week, is not dressed and will not play tonight due to an ankle injury.
Berk is un-sure who will play in his place, but my guess is either Lene Maiava (a versatile, sixth man of sorts who can play all across the line and competed with Alsadek for the job in fall camp) or T.D. Gross (a sophomore listed as Alsadek's backup at RG).
@Jsamm: Interesting question. Crazily enough, the Wildcats have NEVER played a game in a dome outside of the Alamo Bowl in 2010, when they lost to Oklahoma State 36-10. In fact, outside of a few walkthroughs in McKale Center, the Wildcats have never even PRACTICED indoors.
That's right, we talkin' about practice, not a game.......sorry, I had to. I'm a big Allen Iverson fan.
@Jsamm: and to answer your question, I don't personally think it'll be a factor. But I also didn't think UTSA would manhandle Houston, so I guess we shall see.
A little Larry Coker anecdote before this thing gets underway any minute now...Coker is a notoriously nice person. Last year, covering the game, I was assigned to write the opponent feature, about UTSA and their development as a very new program. I walked into the press conference room, sweating out a tight deadline, wearing a suit (as I always do. And everyone should. I'm wholeheartedly pro-suit).
Coker gets in there, I'm with at most two other reporters, and a few PR people, and Coker starts the press conference by asking me my name, where I'm from (NJ) and asked me why I moved to Arizona. Definitely made the interview that followed much easier. Thought I'd share that!
And we're off! Any score predictions? I've got 35-17 Arizona.