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Pac-12 Preview Arizona: Whose Snap is it Anyway?

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Down in Tucson, four players are battling to become the next starting quarterback for the University of Arizona. The competition is between redshirt freshman Anu Solomon, senior Jesse Scroggins, junior Jerrard Randall, and redshirt sophomore Connor Brewer. As this unfolds, the grumpy Rich Rodriguez watches on the sidelines with some wonderful and humorous commentary that must have Wildcat faithful uneasy as the season approaches. Rodriguez, known for his style of offense, has no leader and a plethora of new players trying to put something together all while pressure builds on getting a better defensively. At some point, a starting quarterback must emerge and then hopefully, the Wildcat coaches and team members can create some workable scene from the chaos down South.

Sketch #1: Who will replace Denker and Carey?

The key question that has been asked this entire offseason in Tucson is who will replace the two guys that accounted for over 95 percent of the Wildcat’s Pac-12 total offense (445 of 460 yards per game)? The offensive duo accounted for 32 of the team’s 34 total touchdowns scored in Pac-12 play. Ka’Deem Carey won the 2013 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. Believe it or not, B.J. Denker, in his nine conference games, finished fifth in total offense. Together the two players averaged over 445 yards and 21 points per game. That is a significant amount of offensive production to replace.

Sketch #2: Why the slow start for a fast paced offense?

First quarters typically did not go well for the Wildcats. In their nine Pac-12 games, the Wildcats were outscored 83 to 50 in first quarters. That was the lowest amount of offensive scoring the Wildcats did in any quarter, AND it was the most points the Wildcat defense allowed in any quarter of Pac-12 play. Digging deeper into their season, in their five Pac-12 losses, the Wildcats only scored a total of TEN points in those five first quarters, a touchdown against Washington State and a field goal against USC. However,  the Wildcats five Pac-12 opponents scored 59 points against them for a 49 point swing! The ten Wildcat first quarter points were scored during 18 offensive drives in those five Pac-12 losses, so in other words, eight out of nine offensive drives resulted in ZERO points for the Wildcats in their five Pac-12 losses.

 1st Qtr2nd Qtr3rd Qtr4th QtrTotal
Arizona50886559262
Pac-12 Opponent83606958270
Difference-3328-41-8
Arizona Statistical analysis provided by Gary Doran

Sketch #3: Can the defense Improve in 2014?

The Wildcat defense ranked in the lower half of the Pac-12 in most of the defensive categories. The Wildcat defense was even worse in their red zone, as they finished 11th in allowing its opponent to score points and 12th in allowing its opponent to score a touchdown. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has to take a unit, which lost Tevin Hood, Jake Fischer, Marquis Flowers, and Shaq Richardson, and improve it in order for Arizona to take steps up the Pac-12 ladder.

2013 Arizona DefenseRankAvg
Scoring Defense7th30.0
Rushing Defense9th187.1
Passing Defense7th249.8
Total Defense8th436.9
Opponent 1st Downs8th23.1
Opponent 3rd Down Conversion %8th41.0%
Sacks8th15
Interceptions8th10
Red Zone Scores Allowed10th87.5%
Red Zone TDs Allowed12th71.9%
Wildcats Statistical analysis provided by Gary Doran

There are indeed many sketches to be played out regarding the 2014 Arizona Wildcats. As of yet, none of those sketches have a positive, confidence building opening act, and it doesn’t appear that the early very easy schedule will shed a lot of light on what to expect from this year’s team.

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