We are almost just two weeks from the start of Arizona Wildcats football, and some stuff is starting to clear up during fall camp. You guys have a lot of questions about the team, so let's get it crackin'.
@azdesertswarm if Arizona football wins 8 or 9 games this year would you consider this a step back? Reasons why/why not?— Michael Jansen (@mjansen91) August 19, 2015
Jason Bartel: Eight yes, nine no. I feel that this team will go 9-3, and I don't think that's a step back, especially if they reach ten wins with whatever bowl game that would result in. There are A LOT of new guys that will get playing time this year, and combined with no bye weeks, there's no real time for those guys to learn from their mistakes at practice, and I think that's as big of deal as the lack of rest. I still believe that 2016 was the goal for this staff to win a Pac-12 Championship, and everything is lining up that way right now.
Ryan Kelapire: I agree with Jason here. Eight wins would be a disappointment, but nine would be acceptable. Arizona will go undefeated in their three non-conference games, so failure to reach nine wins in the regular season would mean they lost four or more Pac-12 games. When you look at the conference schedule, it'd have to take some poor football to do that. The way I look at it, Arizona should go 4-0 or 3-1 against Washington State, Colorado, Oregon State, and Washington, since those teams are projected to finish near the bottom of the conference. If worst-case scenario happens and Arizona goes 3-1, they'd then have to win just two of the games against USC, UCLA, Utah, and Stanford to get to nine wins. Failing to get to nine wins would mean that Arizona either lost to two or more of the lesser Pac-12 teams, or weren't able to beat the better teams in the conference. In either case, it'd be considered a step back from last year.
@azdesertswarm how can TE's be used in an offense like Arizona's?— Chris Ramos (@Raaaaaaamos) August 19, 2015
JB: I just got done staring at tight ends for half an hour, and I do think that Josh Kern, Trevor Wood, and Matt Morin will get utilized this year. Whether it's an extra blocker on run/sweep plays, or just getting a short option in the middle of the field for Anu Solomon, they will make this offense better. For all intents and purposes, Arizona has used tight ends the last two years. It just happened to be Terrence Miller and Austin Hill, who we got used to calling wide receivers and still thought of them that way. This year, it's big, athletic, agile guys that can block and run routes. But it's not like Arizona's offense is rooted in big plays. It's rooted in moving the ball, and these guys will do that.
RK: I'd really like to see the tight ends be used in the red zone. Arizona's offense stalled way too many times in the red zone last year, and having a big target in the middle like Josh Kern or Trevor Wood could make life easier for Anu Solomon. Plus, anything to cut down on those countless fades to the corner of the end zone would be awesome.
@azdesertswarm O-line? Worried?— twittleedum (@twittleedum80) August 19, 2015
JB: A little, yes. Lene Maiava was out of Tuesday's practice with a head injury, which is another blow to the depth. From left to right, I would say the starting line right now is: Freddie Tagaloa, T.D. Gross, Cayman Bundage, Jacob Alsadek and Maiava, with Zach Hemmila able to fill in at guard and center, and then the potential of Cody Creason, Gerhard de Beer or Christian Boettcher filling in as well. But yes, I'm more concerned about the O-line than I was at the start of camp.
RK: I think you have to be somewhat concerned about it. Carter Wood's season-ending injury makes the center position even more uncertain that it already was, and it looks like it will force Cayman Bundage to switch positions to compensate for it. The depth is also a concern, and since injuries are always possible (Jason mentioned above that Maiava was out of practice on Tuesday), it could force some inexperienced players into action earlier than expected.
@azdesertswarm secondary, better or worse?— twittleedum (@twittleedum80) August 19, 2015
JB: Better. Cam Denson, DaVonte' Neal, Devin Holiday and Sammy Morrison all look really good at corner. Jarvis McCall has been out with his groin injury all camp essentially, and I can't imagine him getting significant playing time to start the year. Then at safety, William Parks, Jamar Allah and Tellas Jones have all shown that they can play well in games before. Paul Magloire will be interesting to watch. Also of note, Anthony Lopez is dealing with a foot injury of his own, but I think this group is better overall than last year.
RK: Better. I'm a little worried about the inexperience of Arizona's cornerbacks, but at the same time I think they're more talented than what they had last year. And though I'll miss Tra'Mayne Bondurant's unrivaled ability to create turnovers, I also think the safety group is stronger than it was last year. I really love the depth the team has there.
@azdesertswarm If Arizona does get new football unis w/ the new Nike deal, what design would you guys like to see?— Michael Coronado (@Mike18Coronado) August 19, 2015
JB: The Desert Swarm era ones, obviously.
RK: I really liked the uniforms the program had from 2010-2012. I think if they tweaked those a little bit, they'd be perfect. The main things I want to see are the two stripes on both the pants and helmets, and a simple, yet sharp, jersey design. The gradient is horrible. Oh, and they can scrap the red helmets too. I really don't like the look of those.
@azdesertswarm any recruitment updates?— RobfromAZ (@RobfromAZ) August 19, 2015
JB: The only thing I've seen lately as far as football goes is the Melquise Stovall news. You have to remember that those kids are getting ready for their own seasons as well, with Arizona HS football starting this week (!), so I don't know that there's been time for any actual news to come out of the high school ranks.
RK: Football recruiting is pretty quiet right now other than the Stovall news, and basketball recruiting is really depressing at the moment.
@azdesertswarm bercovici, one of the best QB's in the history mankind or too much of a gunslinger with INT's?— twittleedum (@twittleedum80) August 19, 2015
JB: The second. Rumblings out of that place up north is that Bercovici was more of a flash in the pan than anything, which is fun. The Pac-12 is in such a weird place with QBs this year.
RK: It's sacrilegious to talk about that school up North on here, so I'll refrain from answering this question.
From @mstauffer02: @azdesertswarm any major impact of ASU's move to D1 men's ice hockey and new woman's team for UA & rest of the pac-12 going forward?
JB: Man, I wish. I've said it a couple times before, but I think Greg Byrne is missing the boat with this one right now. I don't think the actual move to D1 for ASU is the biggest blow, but the partnership with the Coyotes. If those games in Gila River Arena go well, ASU is competitive with NCAA teams in year two, and the AHL moving west proves to be a success, I would expect the Pac-12 to put some pressure on schools to look into hockey. It's more programming for them, and I think it could be another potential revenue sport for schools out here. And Arizona doesn't even have to build a new arena for it. Tucson would just need to build an ice rink for the team to practice instead of the current situation where they go to Gilbert to practice. But TCC is more than capable of hosting an NCAA program as is.
RK: As much as I'd like that, everything that Greg Byrne has said makes it sound like adding a hockey program is a long shot right now. Though, that could certainly change in a hurry if ASU starts to have some major success with theirs.