Thanks for stopping by to chat some UA football this week. Some good questions already waiting for me. Let's get started...
It sure is interesting how these questions have changed the past few weeks. Heading into the USC game, everyone wanted to know who the quarterback was going to be for THIS year. Now that B.J. Denker has solidified the spot, it's all turned to next year. I think it's way too early to know who the guy will be. But I expect a good competition in the spring between Anu Solomon, Javelle Allen and Connor Brewer. I know the coaches are really excited about Allen's development over the past year or so and like what they have in Solomon and Brewer. I think those three will be the primary candidates. All in all, I think the UA is in decent to good shape at the position going forward.
This is a really good question. I do think Rodriguez really likes his setup in Tucson. He loves this town in terms of the weather and community and what it offers recruits. He also realizes he came in at a good time with Lowell-Stevens being built in time for his second season. I think he's comfortable here and thinks the best days are ahead. That said, I think after the Michigan fiasco, part of him may want to prove he can still win at the highest level. If a top-tier job came open in the next couple of years and he was pursued hard, I'm sure he would listen. But it would have to be a great job with heavy assurances he'd get a fair shake unlike at Michigan.
The injury report will come out later today, but I'm expecting both Tra'Mayne Bondurant and Jared Tevis to play this week at Cal. Bondurant practiced yesterday and seems fine. Tevis is a bit more limited, but still healthy enough to play it appears. Even though Anthony Lopez and Will Parks filled in well for these two, the coaches are eager to have both back and have a full arsenal for a dangerous Cal passing attack.
No, Jesse Scroggins is still with the UA and is the third-string quarterback. I think it's safe to say the coaches were expecting more from him this year and thought he could be a legitimate candidate to be the starter, but it hasn't worked out that way. But he's still with the team for now.
First of all, it's an honor to have Frank in the chat! One of my favorite Mets ever! He also brings up some interesting points. I think after a hot offensive start, teams started to get a scouting report on true freshman Jared Goff and began having an easier time defending him. It's also hard for a true frosh like him to keep getting better throughout the year as he gets banged up and defenses know what's coming. The trap game is an interesting theory. Cal has been blown out in every Pac-12 game its played so far this season and it does seem like the Bears are due to play a good game one of these weeks and it could happen Saturday. Goff has seven completions of 50 yards or more this season and Arizona has a knack for giving up big plays. If he has the deep ball working on Saturday, it could certainly get interesting.
There's no rule that teams can't go to the same bowl two years in a row, but I highly doubt Arizona ends up in New Mexico again this season assuming it gets to six wins. There are other options, especially if more than seven teams in the Pac-12 become bowl eligible. And if the UA finishes strong a more prominent bowl game than the New Mexico Bowl would emerge. It's a little early for this talk, but like I said, I doubt the Cats head back to New Mexico this season.
Ah, the obligatory Kyle Kelley question of the week. I'd give the defensive end a little more time. He's just a redshirt freshman and some guys just don't develop and learn as quickly as others. He's just not in line for a lot of playing time right now with guys like Reggie Gilbert, Sione Tuihalamaka, Justin Washington and Dan Pettinato playing pretty well right now. If he sticks with it and I think he will, he'll eventually get a crack at some playing time in the future. The coaches still like him.
Can Arizona be 8-2 heading into the Oregon game here? Sure. Do I think they will be? Nope. The UA has certainly improved the past couple of weeks, but let's not forget: If Utah's Andy Phillips hits on a couple of field goals, the game against the Utes could have gone entirely different. It's fun for fans to think about 8-2 as a possibility and it is, but the Wildcats also lose to Cal this week. If the Cats are able to get by Cal (which I think they should), the UCLA game should be a real fun one. But Washington State, the next week, is no slouch either. If they could get through this stretch 3-0, it would be really impressive and that Oregon game would be a lot of fun to cover, Conner.
Now that #TeamKaDeem is in full swing, the UA's junior running back has certainly received more attention in the past week or so and it'll continue if he keeps putting up big numbers. For him to get to NY, he needs to have a couple more 200-yard games and be the nation's leading rusher by a wide margin—not just five or six yards. But if he goes for 200-plus against UCLA and Oregon, it will certainly help him get in the national spotlight. In the end, I still think it's a stretch he gets invited to NY at the end of the day.
I'll go with UCLA still. I know the Bruins have lost a couple in a row, but I still think they have the most talent of any team in the South and should get on track now that Oregon and Stanford are off the schedule.
Three keys: 1. Limit Jared Goff in the deep passing game and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. Goff can't complete long passes and disrupt Arizona's secondary if he doesn't have time to set his feet and make all the throws he likes. 2. B.J. Denker continues to play the way he has. Like his style or not, he's become a legitimate threat out of the QB position and defenses no longer can just stack the box to stop Ka'Deem Carey. Denker has to keep Cal's defense honest and make plays like he has the past few weeks. 3. Arizona has to play with intensity from the start. It's a 12:30 start against a bad team. UA can't come out and sleepwalk early. It's important Arizona starts fast and imposes its will from the start.
Bruce Pascoe is the man when it comes to covering college hoops in this town, but I love the sport, so I'll take a stab at this. Early predictions: Kentucky, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Duke. (This will go over well).
Lots to address here! I'm not sure EVERYONE knows Arizona's receivers will be the best in the nation next year. I think the wide receiver group has a chance to be really good, but so much can happen between now and then as we saw with the group this year. I don't see it likely that Ka'Deem comes back for his senior year no matter how his season ends this year. Now for the super bowl predictions: Let's go with Anu Solomon at QB and the Sun Bowl? Thoughts?
I actually don't think punter Drew Riggleman has been all that bad. He's had one bad punt a game, which obviously isn't ideal, but he's also had some nice punts. It's also his first year as a starter and he is a walk-on from a local school. If Jake Smith, the kicker, could perform better than Riggleman, I think he'd have gotten a chance by now. The job may not be Riggleman's next year, but I expect him to hold it for the rest of this season unless something drastic happens.
10+ years seems like A LOT. Could it happen? Sure. But it's too early to predict that. I do think most players really enjoy playing for him—especially when things are going well. He's definitely a great motivator and also knows how to have fun with them. Every coach will have a few players that don't enjoy playing for him, but I think the majority of the UA players like suiting up for Rodriguez and want to give him their very best.
This is an interesting one. I think you have to be pretty pleased and impressed with the job QBs coach Rod Smith has done with B.J. Denker this season. RichRod gets a lot of credit and rightfully so, but Smith has done a really good job of working with Denker on a daily basis and developing him. Also WRs coach Tony Dews deserves some credit for developing this young group of WRs. To have two true freshman in Nate Phillips and Samajie Grant playing as well as they are and see improvement in other guys is strong. Rodriguez loves his staff and I don't think that's just coachspeak. A lot of these guys have been with him at past stops and he really trusts them. It's an important aspect in Arizona's success.
I'll give my score prediction in a little bit, but I do anticipate a closer game than what most people think. Going on the road in back-to-back weekends is tough and this is a dangerous matchup for Arizona with how Cal can sling the ball around. I expect it to be tough once again.
I think Arizona football fans are similar to other fanbases with a similar product. Also the schedule hasn't been all that exciting and it's tough to stick around for three-plus hours for these 7, 7:30, 8 p.m., starts. My guess: If Arizona takes care of business this weekend, you'll see a pretty good crowd next weekend for UCLA even with a late start. The more Arizona wins this year, the bigger and rowdier the crowds will be.
I'm not sure any of those guys transfer after this season. People were surprised Allen didn't transfer when RichRod brought in Brewer and Scroggins and now he's the No. 2 quarterback and almost got a real chance at playing time earlier this season. I think all three stick it out for at least another season and form a pretty good QB competition in the spring and fall. Brewer isn't Denker fast, but I think he's athletic enough to run this offense. If he wasn't, I don't think the coaches would have brought him in.
It sounds like Fischer will also play this week. RichRod seemed encouraged by what he heard earlier this week and it sounds like Fischer dodged a serious injury. He's a tough dude and I imagine he'll play through the pain. Also, I'm not sure Wazzu pulls off the upset, but I do think we see a close game tonight. I'm looking forward to watching it. I really hope Leach dresses up for Halloween.
Could be, but like I said, I still like UCLA to win the division. The UCLA-Arizona, UCLA-Arizona State and UA-ASU matchups should all be fun.
You tell me, GB. I know I wouldn't be thrilled with that time if I was you. I thought you guys were gonna get the 5 p.m., FOX slot and am surprised FOX took Texas-West Virginia over UA-UCLA. Win this weekend though and I think the fans will show up for a late-night UCLA game.
Got time for one more question and then I have to run...
Me, dodge? Come on! I would never...Let's go with a high-scoring affair that the UA pulls out. I'll go 38-31 UA.
Thanks to everyone for following today. I'll be in Berkeley for Saturday's game along with the great Greg Hansen. Looking forward to bringing you all coverage. Thanks again!