Thanks for stopping by today in advance of tonight's Arizona-USC game. Fire away any questions you have. A reminder, the game kicks at 7:30 tonight on Fox Sports 1. Alright, let's get started.
Seems right to start with a quarterback question since that is—by far—the biggest storyline with this team so far. I'll take the over on 120 yards for Denker. Call it a hunch, but I think we see Denker's best game tonight. That may sound like a stretch considering this is the best defense he's seen this season, but I think he's eager to get back out there after the Washington game. A couple of other reasons for my hunch: I think his receivers help him tonight more than they have. I like David Richards to have a few catches tonight and stretch the field. The Washington game in the rain was a very tough one for him to come back to. I also think the O-line is as healthy as it has been this season and plays well. I wouldn't be surprised if Denker gets close or over 200 yards tonight.
I don't think it's just about passing. Right now, the coaches view Denker as a better quarterback overall. He has a better understanding of the offense, is making better decisions and yes, probably does have a better arm. I think if RichRod and Co., thought Allen was a better passer and quarterback, they'd give him a shot.
The bowl affiliations are still the same as last season and won't change until next year. The Pac-12 bowls are (in reverse order): New Mexico, Kraft Fight Hunger, Las Vegas, Sun, Holiday, Alamo, Rose. If UA gets to a bowl, I think Vegas, Kraft Fight Hunger and New Mexico would all be options. Likely Vegas or Fight Hunger first.
I see we have a McDonald's All-American in the house—or just someone who knows where I graduated. Either way, Wayne, I think it would take A LOT for Denker to just be pulled. I really think he's RichRod's man right now. He didn't complete a pass and the offense didn't get a first down in the opening quarter against Washington and he still stuck with him. If those things happen again and UA falls in a big hole, then maybe he makes a change. I just don't think RichRod views Allen as a guy who is ready for the job yet. If it did happen, Allen's play would determine if it's a permanent pull or just a "I-can't-look-at-you-for-at-least-24-hours" (as you put it) hook.
Better players, especially at the quarterback position. That is not a knock on RichRod at all. His recruiting classes have gotten better and better since he took the Arizona job, but he just wasn't left with a lot. The 2014 recruiting class will likely be one of the better ones in the conference and should help infuse some talent into the program. If the classes continue to get better like they have early in his UA career, the program can start to think about taking a step toward elite status. The facilities and resources are now in place.
From what I'm reading and watching on TV since I've been out here, I think there's a lot of excitement to see what the team looks like tonight. Fans were bored of Lane Kiffin and wanted him gone and weren't going to get excited about the program with him here. Now that he's gone, I think there's more hope among the fans, who realize they still have a very talented team to root for.
Other than a few clouds, it's pretty perfect in La La Land right now. I don't see rain or any weather conditions playing a factor tonight. I know Denker will be excited about that.
You raise some good points, Dave. SC does have three really good backs in Madden, Davis and Red and a talented defense to counter the UA's struggling passing game. But USC has some flaws, too. It certainly wouldn't shock me if the Trojans play their best game of the season tonight and it gets lopsided by the fourth, but I think the UA sticks with them and makes it a game. Like I said before, I think Denker plays well and defensively, the Wildcats will make Cody Kessler make plays before holes open up in the run game.
If we're limiting this to one key and one word, I'll with: Denker. Certainly, there are others, but if B.J. Denker plays like he did against Washington and really struggles again, I think it will be very difficult for the UA to win tonight. If he plays well and makes some plays through the air, it will give Arizona a chance and open up some space for Ka'Deem Carey.
Fisher is officially questionable for tonight's game with an ankle injury, but I don't think he misses this one. The UA is definitely improved defensively from last season and can be league average by the end of the season, which it wasn't last year. Flowers has the size and speed that USC covets in recruiting and needs to have a big game tonight. The front six needs to do a solid job of stopping the Trojan run game and make quarterback Cody Kessler air it out.
I do think you'll see the UA open up the playbook a little more tonight. I think RichRod wanted to do that against Washington, but the weather really prevented it. When an offense is struggling like Arizona's was against UW, the last thing you want to do is make a silly turnover because of a trick play. If the opportunities are there tonight, I wouldn't be shocked to see some stuff we haven't seen yet this season.
I don't think a lot. Tre Madden and Justin Davis have been studs in the backfield for the Trojans and haven't been the problem. How much can Redd really add to what those two have already done? It's another body and a guy who is proven, but I don't think he'll have a huge impact on the outcome.
Looks like we have another participant who is aware of my alma matter! I thought I hid it better! Anyways, Mr. Withey, you sure are negative these days. I just don't see Arizona losing six straight. Are they a top-tier team in the league? No. Are they as good as last year? Probably not. But are they lose six in a row bad? Also a no. I can't tell you exactly which of those games they win, but I don't seeing them losing all of them. I think the coaching is too good and there's something to be said for having one of the best running backs in the country.
Jesse Scroggins is still on the team and traveled with Arizona to USC after not dressing the past two games. I'd be surprised if he plays tonight, though. He's got some talent, but hasn't learned the offense as quickly as the coaches would have liked and doesn't make good decisions in practice with where to go with the ball.
This, of course, is for entertainment purposes only. USC is favored to win by six right now. I think at the end of the day, the Trojans cover, but it's a close game for the majority of the four quarters.
As I've said, I think Denker plays reasonably well tonight and you see an above-average performance from Arizona's offense tonight. I don't anticipate there being any personnel changes. Hill is indeed still out.
I think the offense is moving slower because Matt Scott and Austin Hill aren't around. I think it has a lot more to do with that than "the new guys." In fact, if you look at the receivers, the two most consistent guys at that position have been true freshmen Nate Phillips and Samajie Grant. I think the younger guys understand the offense and what they're supposed to do. I just think it's really hard to replace two guys like Scott and Hill.
I really don't think so. I'd be very surprised if RichRod burned Anu Solomon's redshirt at this point. I do think he's a guy that can be a reasonable option in the years to come once he has a spring practice or two under his belt. But unless injuries stack up at the QB spot, I don't see him getting a shot. He's just not ready, it seems.
150 is a lot against this defensive front and at the beginning of the game at least, that defense is going to be down toward the line of scrimmage ready to crowd Carey. I think he gets into triple digits, but not sure he goes higher than 150.
I was surprised he didn't play more against Washington, but I think there were a couple of factors for it. First, Carey was playing really well, especially as the game went on, and it would have been tough to take touches away from him. Secondly, I think the weather played a part. The UA kept it very basic in that game and when Jenkins comes in with Carey, it's certainly something different. I think you see him a little more tonight, but not on every play or anything like that.
I think so, yes. Depending on where you look, he's rated anywhere from the 2nd to the 8th best running back in this class. If he continues to play the way he has this season, it would seem like too much to pass up to return for his senior season. The life span of an NFL running back is really short, so why wait on getting that clock started if you're him?
Agreed, RF or whoever you are! You're Marshall Faulk and I'm Ronnie Hillman. I'm just doing the best I can!
A sports reporter with the Arizona Daily Star? (See what I did there?)
We wrote about Austin on Sunday. He told us there's a 70-30 chance he does not return this season and thinks he's still about a month away from putting cleats on. That said, since he's already used his redshirt season and doesn't have much use for it anyways, if he's able to come back at any point, I think they'll use him for sure. So if UA makes it to a bowl, I wouldn't be shocked to see him.
The last time a Griffey was playing defense, it was Ken Griffey Jr. robbing home runs in Seattle. Trey Griffey plays WR and, for the time being, isn't really in the rotation. He's just a redshirt freshman though and is still developing and coming along.
I think that's where some of the trickery could come into play. That's one way to diversify things a bit. An other is by playing Jenkins and Carey at the same time and making the defense figure out who to cover. And even though there are some limitations at QB, the receivers can still step up more than they have and make a few more plays to help things come along.
I don't know how much a single game ever impacts recruiting. I think it's more of a long haul type thing. But the UA recruits the heck out of Southern California and anytime the UA can beat USC or UCLA it certainly helps getting in the homes of some of those elite recruits.
I'm not sure you can classify UA as a disappointment yet. The Wildcats are 3-1, even if the wins aren't that impressive. USC, at 0-2 in league play, has to be the bigger disappointment even if Kiffin shouldn't have started the year. I'd wait a few weeks before calling Arizona a disappointment.
We'll finish with a Jayhawk. I like UCLA in the South and Oregon—surprise, surprise—in the North. As for a score prediction for tonight, let's go w/this: USC 27, Arizona 17.
Thanks for all the questions, everybody. I enjoyed my time with you all as usual. Let's do it again next week. Thanks again!