The Arizona Wildcats are now bowl eligible. A phrase that not too many would have thought we'd be saying after that loss to Washington a few weeks ago.
Now, Arizona might not be in the most glamorous bowl game this season, but even the lowest tier bowl will be beneficial to this team.
Arizona will be losing 20 seniors. Among those are William Parks, Jamar Allah, Anthony Lopez and Reggie Gilbert. The defense is a very young unit, and this group will need all the extra practice reps they can get.
Every Arizona corner will be returning next year, which is both good and bad news. The group definitely improved throughout the season, but this is a very young core, and these extra four or five weeks of practice will be crucial for extra reps.
As for the defensive line, it gives guys like Luca Bruno, Sani Fuimaono, and Parker Zellers more quality reps, while giving others like Marcus Griffin and Sharif Williams more time to develop. Marquis Ware, Kendal Franklin, Haden Gregory and more will all have more time to develop as well with the possible departure of Scooby Wright III coming down as well.
On offense, Arizona will be without David Richards, Johnny Jackson, Cayman Bundage and Lene Maiava, giving Shun Brown, Cedric Peterson, and Tony Ellison reps with the receivers. They'll be doing that while giving the offensive line more time fix their issues, if possible.
The Catcus Bowl is a very real possibility, but even if Arizona lands in the Liberty Bowl, Independence Bowl, or possibly the Arizona Bowl, the extra practice, as well as rest for these guys to play one final game in December or early January will go a long way for this program going forward.
A lot of people are constantly asking where some of these guys were when the team was banged up, and what is holding them up from seeing the field. If these guys were ready to play, you would think Rich Rodriguez would have thrown them in already.
These guys just need some time to develop. Sharif and Marquis were battling devastating injuries, and just need to get caught up to speed with conditioning and strength. When you run as fast as Arizona does, a small injury that keeps someone out for some time can be a major setback for conditioning. But others, just need a little more time to get their bearings, because development isn't just going to happen from year one to year two and so on, it's just something that needs time.
Does collegiate coaches have a lot of time nowadays? Not particularly. But that's just the business of college athletics.