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Arizona football at Pac-12 Media Day: The Highlights and Analysis

Head coach Mike Stoops and quarterback Nick Foles represented the Arizona Wildcats yesterday at Pac-12 media day in Los Angeles and addressed some of the big questions about the 2011 season.  

Here are some of the highlights:

Stoops says (on the Juron Criner summer saga):

"Juron's had some personal and family issues with his mother that he had to attend to, and spent some time with his mother, and I think that was a big part of it," Stoops said. "I think he feels better about his mother, and that is a big part of who he is and I think he feels a lot better about her condition."

Reaction: Finally some good news.

With all the injuries during the spring it's good for Wildcat fans to know Criner will be back on the field in 2011.  

Stoops said he hadn't seen Criner personally, but he assured the media that the senior receiver had been completing regular workouts with the team and would be ready to go when camp starts on Aug. 4.

Criner's presence on the field solidifies Arizona in the top tier of receivers in the conference and will couple receiver Dan Buckner as deep threats.

And that's good news for Arizona's air attack, especially since it will have to compensate for the lack of a strong run game and an inexperienced offensive line this season.

Stoops says (about the offensive line):

"We hope that that experience that we have at quarterback and receiver will help balance on out the inexperience we have on the offensive line," Stoops said. "I believe they can be more talented than the group that we had a year ago."

Reaction: Woah. Slow down there, coach.

Only one player (Kyle Quinn, who started in the Alamo Bowl when Colin Baxter couldn't go) even has game experience -- one game of experience. There will be a steep learning curve for the Wildcats' O-line this season, and that fact that Arizona's schedule is heavily stacked in the beginning could expose the lack of experience up front.

Last year's O-line ranked eight in the Pac-10, giving up 32 sacks, which is more than two per game. While Stoops would want to give quarterback Nick Foles time to develop plays down field, the youth of the line may have him scrambling more than Wildcat fans would like to see this season.

That being said, Arizona's deep threat would certainly help take the pressure off the line, so long as it gives Foles enough time to get the ball out of his hands before he hits the ground.

 

Stoops says (on being picked fourth in the Pacific 12 South):

"It doesn't affect me. We've never been picked high, so it's not unusual for us, is it?" Stoops said.

Reaction: It's nothing new. Since 2004 when Stoops took over the program, Arizona has never been selected higher than fifth. In the last six seasons, the Wildcats have been tabbed fifth, eighth, seventh, seventh, sixth, and eighth, respectively.

Stoops joked when he was asked why he thought Arizona was picked fourth:

"I don't know," Stoops said. "Must think I'm a bad coach (laughing)."

For more of Stoops' interview (and to see the one question Nick Foles was asked) you can watch the video for yourself.