The Arizona Wildcats have looked, as a whole, underwhelming heading into their Pac-12 schedule.
And it’s not like that conference schedule starts off easy. The No. 9 Washington Huskies are in Tucson looking to prove themselves as well after beating up on three lesser teams in their non-conference slate.
There’s been plenty of talk this week about Rich Rodriguez and his propensity to upset a top-ten team each year, and this will be one of two chances this year, with Stanford being the other.
So, how do the Wildcats come up with a big win? Here are three ways to make that happen.
1. Make Browning feel blue
The biggest offensive threat Arizona faces this year is quarterback Jake Browning. He’s averaging just over ten yards per passing attempt in three games, and if he’s given any kind of time in the pocket, he will likely shred the Wildcat secondary.
Arizona’s defensive line, which will be wearing all blue uniforms, needs to make Browning feel those blue unis throughout the night. No Parker Zellers this week, as he and DeAndre’ Miller are both listed as out on the injury report, so some other guys are going to have to step up. We should see more Calvin Allen, and more Aiulua Fanene. They, along with ends like Sani Fuimaono and Justin Belknap, will need to step it up against probably the best offensive line they’ve seen so far.
2. The early bird gets the worm
The joke is that this is the very last college football game of the day
Bold prediction right here: The team that scores first will probably win, especially if that team is Arizona. Why? The Cats won’t be forced to chase down points, and will be able to better establish the run game with both Brandon Dawkins and J.J. Taylor. It could also put some doubt in UW players’ heads as they haven’t dealt with any adversity during a game yet this season.
Score early. Get that lead. Win probability goes way up.
3. Smells Like Teen Spirit
Dudes that wear jersey numbers in the teens (DaVonte’ Neal, Jace Whittaker, Paul Magloire, and yes, Josh Kern) will all be crucial in this one. Neal and Whittaker because Arizona’s corners have been the weak link so far, and will need to have a much better game if the Wildcats have any chance of getting a win. Magloire will need to have a big impact with Miller out, and the Myles Gaskin train rolling right at him.
And then Kern because we saw multiple tight end catches last week, and maybe that’s a thing that Dawkins will need to be comfortable in the offense. Also, the continued absence of Jamardre Cobb at fullback will lead to more two tight end sets in the redzone, and they’ll need to block well to get those short yardage situations when Taylor can’t be in the open field.