It's gameday here in San Antonio. The Wildcats are five hours from kicking off against UTSA. Our game time is now. So let's get to the questions.
Alsadek had two penalties last week against UNLV, but I didn't think he struggled, per se. It was a normal game from a freshman making his first career start. I don't believe the ankle injury is anything serious long-term. It might keep him from playing the whole game tonight, but I wouldn't expect this injury to set the back unit or the offensive production back. They have a capable sixth man to serve as a swing guy in Lene Maiava. He played plenty last year and knows the system. An injury to Gurrola or one of the tackles would be a bigger deal long term. As would one to Bundage, who is an excellent run blocker.
I think Haden is a guy you may see more and more as the season goes on. They really like his ability and speed and think he can help them in this up tempo offense. I think you'll see him more in the slot as a receiver right now than you will in the backfield as a running back. Eventually he'll do both, and running back may be his primary position long term, but right now I think his biggest impact is in the slot.
I don't think it's a trap game at this point, simply because that's all Arizona has heard all week. I think Rodriguez will have his team ready to play tonight. That is something he's been excellent at since arriving at Arizona. Other than Wazzu at home last year, Arizona has won the games it is supposed to win. UTSA is a program on a rise, and a good team, no question, but they have some weaknesses and some issues that could show up tonight against UA. But you are right that it will be interesting to see how Solomon handles his first road game, and if Nick Wilson, the true frosh you referenced at running back, struggles, it could get interesting. But I'm done referring to this game as a trap game.
I think that will be UA's strategy a lot this year. They have a lot of talent at WR and guys who are capable of making plays with the ball in their hand. I think that's one of the reasons why Solomon was successful last week against UTSA. Sure, he threw a 92-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hill, but Hill caught that ball at the 20-yard line ish and ran the other 80. On Samajie Grant's 63-yard TD, he caught it at the 40. But as you suggest, you could see that quick-hitter stuff even more tonight if the run game is iffy with TJG banged up.
That's the million dollar question. I think at this point, the UA's coaches are just counting on McCall and McKnight to be better — especially the senior McKnight. McCall should improve and get more comfortable identifying schemes and systems as the year moves on, and has the talent to hold down his side. McKnight is the guy I think they're more worried about at this point. All we heard is how great of a camp he had and how healthy he is, and then he struggled at points last week. It could have just been a rough game, which is what the coaches are hoping. But if it's a sign of things to come, that's not good for the UA pass D.
A quick follow up on that, Pep...I think Cam Denson will eventually be able to help out there, but needs some more time to learn the scheme and get up to speed. After that, I'm not sure.
I've asked Rodriguez a couple of times about moving Parks to CB, and it just doesn't sound like it's going to happen. They really like him at that safety spot, and he's proven to be a real playmaker there. If we see any movement with either Parks or Bondurant, I wonder if it's moving Bondurant down to a linebacker-ish position. He's bulked up to 215 and is a solid open field tackler. The Wildcats need some speed on the edge, and he could provide it. That's something I'm looking for as Arizona gets into conference play in a couple of weeks. For now, I think we'll continue to see Bondurant in this third-down role.
If Rodriguez was telling the truth this week, we should certainly expect to see Wood on defense tonight. And I think you're right, a third-down pass rush specialist seems like the most logical role. He could be a SWAT team addition and team with Jordan Allen as edge rushers. If he gets a few snaps tonight, and is effective, I think we'll see more and more of him throughout the season. I still think his future for the UA is as a pass-catcher in the slot. But he needs to get a little stronger first, which will come. His offseason shoulder surgery set him back in that area a little bit, but it's coming.
I really don't see any of those guys going anywhere the next three years. Phillips and Grant should be staples of the UA offense the next two years. I've said this a couple of times to people this week, and we'll have to really wait to see, but Grant may be the team's best overall receiver. In my opinion, we saw a drastic improvement in game one from last year. He's quicker, stronger and so good after the catch. Phillips is Mr. Reliable. Griffey I think is still in the improvement stage, but they all seem to be OK with the rotation right now and staying fresher. Who knows what could happen, but I think that trio sticks it out.
Ware was set back by a shoulder injury. Rodriguez said this week it's unlikely he plays this season. He's back involved in practice and re-gaining his strength, but missed all of camp, and is just too far behind. Eventually, I think he can be a solid contributor for the defense. Cobb wasn't able to get to Tucson early this summer because of an NCAA hang up with his summer school, and it set his conditioning back. I think it's probably a longshot he plays this year, too. But for right now, I think what they have at the two OLB spots isn't changing.
I don't think you'll see Arizona abandon the run game. It's too important to what the Wildcats do. The reason a lot of those passes with the spread works is because the run game sets it up. Even if TJG doesn't play or isn't full go, the UA will still try to get the run game going with Nick Wilson and others. I think the 4 WR/1 RB set or 3 WR/1 TE/1 RB set are the two most likely tonight.
He left team after spring because of a medical condition. It forced him to stop playing football.
I can't see Randall going anywhere. This is already his third school, and he seems happy in Tucson. By next year, his grasp of the offense should be a lot better. Connor Brewer should also still be here, as should Brandon Dawkins, who is redshirting this year. Plus, they could still add a quarterback in this recruiting class. There should be plenty of depth at that position. But let's not get ahead of ourselves either. A lot could still happen this year and Solomon isn't done earning the job in Rodriguez's eyes.
That's a very good question. It's still TBD what the UTSA offense does very well. They only passed for 121 yards last week against Houston, and rushed for just 142. UTSA's top running back, David Glasco II, averaged just 3.2 yards per carry. They were able to handle Houston more because of Houston's mistakes and because of UTSA's strong defense. As proven and experienced as UTSA is at most positions, the Roadrunners still have questions at QB with Tucker Carter. I think they are a team that likes to mix it up and sustain drives with small chunks of yards each play. The biggest thing that could pose a problem is UTSA's very deep, very experienced, very talented offensive line.
I don't think the scheme is an issue in terms of pass rush. It's more of a personnel thing. The Wildcats are still searching for that big-time edge rusher that can get to the quarterback on all downs, but especially third downs. If the personnel is there, the pressure will be too. I think that's a reason we're seeing Trevor Wood move over to defense.
Whichever has less humidity! This Texas humidity is not for me!
Rodriguez didn't schedule any of these games in the first three years. That was all done before he got here. I believe the same to be true at ASU, who travels to New Mexico this weekend. But even long-term when it is Rodriguez's call, I'm not sure you'll see a huge shift in that philosophy even though we've been told it could change. With Arizona is right now and will be for the next couple of years, it needs three winnable games. Plus with a nine-game conference schedule, you usually get tested enough in league play.
I didn't think it was that unimpressive. He broke up a pass at the line of scrimmage and held his edge down decently. I do think you'll see improvement from him for two major reasons. One, he'll be fresher with Reggie Gilbert back and there will be a true rotation at DE, which is what the coaches want. Plus, he'll get more comfortable with the 3-3-5, which is a tough scheme to pick up according to the players. I think he'll be fine. Clay Matthews, he surely isn't though, so don't have too high of expectations.
Michas on the Southside! Chicken topopo salad all day! Though it's been way too long since I've been there. But they're friendly and you can't beat the food. A true Tucson gem!
Shalom, Rabbi! I think if Foles continues to have success, it will bring more attention to the Arizona program, but not sure if it will have a huge impact on recruiting, because he wasn't a Rodriguez guy. It's an interesting question though, and worth watching.
He looks like he'll be redshirting this season. I don't believe he dressed out last week against UNLV. Unless they want to try to something totally different, I don't think we see him tonight or this season. But redshirts are always subject to change w/out notice.
Greetings to the coach with more Big 12 Conference championships than home losses! I think it's too early to answer that, coach. We still have to see what Solomon is, and how much he can improve. Rodriguez and QBs coach Rod Smith continue to say that he's not close to reaching his potential and still has a lot of room to get better. If that's true, and he continues to be more dangerous, it would be hard to see him not be the guy. But, there's also this side of it. If he does get better, it could possibly help RR's recruitment at that position, and they could bring in some big-time talent there. Also, it will be interesting to see what they have in Brandon Dawkins. Good question. Just too soon to truly know.