Thanks for stopping by today and chatting some Arizona football. A couple of questions have already gone live, so we'll start with those. I'll copy and paste them as I answer them.
The "experts" are saying the Utah/Arizona game is the most important game of the year for each team. The winner has a leg up for bowls and momentum and the loser looking at a 5 win season. What you say? by Dave 8:48 AM
I'm not sure it's the most important game of the season for the Utes, but for Arizona—to this point—I'd agree with that. I think most people had Arizona at 3-2 at this point of the season and that's exactly where the Wildcats are at. Utah starts a stretch of three games that I keep calling "swing games" for Arizona because they're all certainly winnable games, but not locks. If Utah knocks off Arizona this week, it becomes increasingly tougher for the UA to reach a bowl game this season. But if the UA gets a win, that's already four wins with a few more real winnable games on the schedule.
We'll start with Cormier. He wasn't cleared to practice until a few weeks ago because of a clearinghouse issue with the NCAA. He was already likely going to redshirt, but that ensured it. I think he'll be a weapon for the UA in the backfield in the coming years, but wouldn't have played much this year with Carey and Jenkins ahead of him. I've heard positive things about Solomon, who is sticking with things, but when he got here, he just wasn't at a point where he was ready to contribute. I still think he has a positive future in Tucson and could be the guy at the QB spot in the future. The coaches are really excited about DaVonte Neal and Cayleb Jones at receiver. They'll both be active next year when they're cleared to play.
That's a good observation on the schedule and a good question. I think we see a somewhere in between Denker on Saturday against Utah. I don't see him throwing for 363 yards and four touchdowns, but I also don't see him struggling like he did at Washington. The senior gained a lot of confidence against USC, even if a lot of his yards came late, and that should translate to the field on Saturday. Every UA opponent is worried about Ka'Deem Carey, but it will be even more so this week with Utah because Carey went for more than 200 yards against the Utes last year and has been a huge focus for them this week. So, opportunities will be there for Denker in the passing game on Saturday.
Like the quarterback position, I think if there were better options in the secondary, the UA would try them. Grandon was really good against UTSA, but has struggled the past two weeks. He still knows the system the best and has the most experience of any free safety on the roster. McKnight had been pretty solid this season, but wasn't great against a talented USC team and didn't get any help from the UA's front six, who didn't apply any pressure on USC quarterback Cody Kessler. It will have to take a lot more for either of those guys to see their playing time reduced.
I think after this week, we'll have a much better idea. If Arizona can't get a win this weekend against Utah, it's going to be tough to get to six wins and get bowl eligible. If the Cats are able to get a win and move to 4-2, I think they have a pretty good chance. So, yeah, you could say at this point it's a 50/50 deal, but it'll change after this weekend for sure.
That's certainly a huge key for this weekend. The biggest thing is like you mentioned, Arizona has to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback and make things easier for the secondary. If they aren't able to rush Travis Wilson, it's going to be another long day for the back five. And even if the pressure is there, Arizona's defensive backs will have to tackle better. That was a huge issue for the UA against USC and was a giant focus for the Wildcats in practice this week.
RichRod seems to be a lot happier with the UA's offensive line now than he was a few weeks ago. Tackles Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele have rounded into shape after a slow start and guard Chris Putton is healthy after banging up his knee earlier in the season. So, with all that, I think the UA should do a pretty good job protecting Denker this weekend. Maybe two sacks against him this week? Is that too low?
I'm totally with you on this. I don't see Utah having a "letdown" on Saturday. Utah's confidence should be at an all-time high and I gotta think the Utes are ready to play again after getting such a big win over Stanford. It will take Arizona's A-game to get a win this weekend.
I have read it! I really, really enjoyed it and think it gives some great insight into what type of coach RichRod is. The access the writer was granted was awesome and he was able to get great stuff. I think the major thing I took away from it is that Michigan made a big mistake getting rid of Rodriguez after the third year. I would have loved to have seen what he could have done in a fourth year with having Denard Robinson back for another year and his system really installed. I think you'll enjoy it and feel like you get to know RichRod better.
Arizona is still chasing several guys and will probably add 5-10 more guys in this class before it's all said and done. I think it was on purpose to land a lot of early commitments and then slow things down during the season, before picking it back up once the season ends. The UA is targeting offensive linemen right now the most. They'll have two in town this weekend and would like to add some beef up front. Right now, the Wildcats only have one offensive line commit for next year, a two-star guard, and would like to add a tackle. I also think RichRod is keeping an eye on some transfers from around the nation and wouldn't mind adding yet another quarterback to the mix.
Boy, that's a good question. It's been more than a month since the UA played at home and they won't be back until Nov. 9 against UCLA. I don't anticipate a full house, but think a good crowd should be on hand. It's definitely an important game for Arizona and I know they're hoping to have a lot of fan support there.
I think they've been fine. I don't think that's a major issue. It's been more about execution. The plays have been there, but the execution hasn't always been. Maybe the only knock could be that Ka'Deem Carey should touch the ball a little more than he has. He only had 21 carries against USC and I think the Arizona coaches would like to see that number increase this weekend against Utah, especially because he had such a big game against the Utes last year. Other than that, they're doing what they have to do to give Denker the best chance to succeed.
Blatt is talking about Three and Out here, which is a look at RichRod's time at Michigan. First, I love bacon. But who doesn't? Bacon pretty much works with everything even though a lot of people don't agree with me. To your non-bacon question, I have a non-bacon answer. With Tevis questionable for this week (I don't think he plays) it will be a good chance for sophomore safety Will Parks to showcase himself this weekend and I think he's a guy that can emerge the second half of the season. I'm going to kind of cheat on my second guy, but I'm going with David Richards. He missed the first three games with a foot injury and has been working his way back. The sophomore is a big and physical target for Denker and should come in handy.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have an NFL quarterback in our presence! Or just someone with a creative name. Either way, Nick, I think it would be fair to be concerned with the special teams a bit. All of the units have been shaky at one time or another this season and it's something RichRod wants to get fixed as the season moves forward. He's commented he'd like the return game to get going and the coverage teams to be a little more consistent. And of course he wants the punting and kicking to be better. If a game came down to special teams, it probably wouldn't be the best news for Arizona.
Fair question. His numbers definitely looked better because of USC's prevent D at the end, but I do think he's "getting it" a little more than he was at the beginning of the season. I don't expect him to have 363 yards, four TDs and no picks like he did last week, but he'll be better than he was against Washington. Confidence is a huge thing in sports and he's got more now than he did a few weeks ago for sure.
I have to run a little early this week thanks to an interview previously set up, so I'm going to answer one more question and then get going. Thanks again for stopping by today and chatting. It's always a good time. And to the guy who asked about bacon, thanks a lot, now I'm starving and wish I had some to chomp on...
I think Arizona plays its best game of the season on Saturday. The Wildcats are in desperation mode and know they need a win to keep their bowl hopes alive. I'm not expecting a "letdown" for Utah like others and think the Utes play well, too. But in the end, I think Arizona gets their much-needed win to the tune of a 31-27 victory at Arizona Stadium.
Thanks again everybody! Have a great weekend and enjoy this awesome weather.