I’m concerned. Arizona seems to be facing a perfect storm. In the upcoming contest at Arizona Stadium, the California Golden Bears are facing a potential ‘bounce-back’ game. The same contest could be a ‘let-down’ game for the Arizona Wildcats.
Last season, five Pac-10 teams lost a game immediately following defeating a ranked opponent. Never underestimate the power of hubris. If Arizona goes into the Cal game cocky, they may find themselves in too deep a hole to dig out of by the time they settle down.
So lets take a look at the opposition.
RB Shane Vereen. Thus far, Vereen has more rushing yards than the Wildcats top two rushers, combined. He is averaging 6.6 ypc, and scored 8 touchdowns. (6 rushing, 2 receiving.) In last seasons match, Vereen more than doubled the total rushing yards of Arizona, by himself. If the Arizona defensive line can’t stop him, Vereen will be a nightmare.
QB Kevin Riley. The dream scenario for the Wildcat defense will be to force Riley to throw all night, similar to what they did to Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi. If that is possible, Riley is likely to be picked off multiple times. His reputation as an erratic passer is well-earned, and I’m sure coach Stoops is hoping to put that to the test. Expect Riley to have a few up close and personal meetings with Arizona defensive linemen Justin Washington, Brooks Reed, and Ricky Elmore.
WR Marvin Jones. Leave out the debacle at Nevada, and Jones is averaging a TD every 4.5 receptions. However, he is a home run threat, first and foremost. Jones had, in his first three games, receptions for 39, 51, and 62 yds. He will present an opportunity for a big play if Arizona puts too much attention on Vereen.
LB Michael Mohamed. In only two games this season, Mohamed has made his presence known. He has a part of 21 tackles, 9 of them solo, and an INT that he returned 41yds for a TD. If he really is 100% healthy, he could pose a major problem for the Wildcats offense.
As a team, I believe they are greatly under-rated. I still pick them to get their act together and finish in the top 3 to 4 teams in the Pac-10 this season. Don’t forget that this team just got embarrassed on national television, and is most definitely frothing at the mouth for some redemption. And what better way than to defeat the #14 team in the nation, at home, in a conference game? Never mind the names that jump out at you from the Cal roster. Every player on that team will be working their respective butts off preparing for Arizona. If there is one trap game all year for the Wildcats, this is it.
I still feel that the Arizona Wildcats are the better team. I’m just concerned about the ‘let-down’. Very concerned.