Get excited, Arizona fans, the Wildcats are going to the Sun Bowl!
Ok, so they’re not going there to take on an ACC juggernaut in a swag bag filled event in an attempt to conclude the season with respectability.
Instead the Wildcats are going to the Sun Bowl on Friday night in an attempt to save their season. Because if they go to UTEP and lose to the Miners after losing to Houston, this season is doomed to the same fate as the previous.
It didn't take long for Arizona fans to realize just how terrible the Wildcats were last year. It may not take long to come to that same realization this season if they lose to UTEP. The Miners couldn't do a thing on the ground against Oklahoma or Rice, averaging less than 50 rushing yards per game.
Against Oklahoma is one thing. The Sooners are the No. 2 team in the nation and any C-USA team would look like kindergardeners in comparison. But Rice? Against the Owls, the Miners scored their two touchdowns on one deep pass and a quarterback sneak. Their leading rusher got exactly 24 rushing yards.
Sure the Owls went to a couple bowl games a few years ago but 2014 feels like a decade ago too for Arizona fans.
The Miners finished 4-8 last season and look like they're on their way to doing the same this season. Last year, the Miners made only five field goals. Only two other FBS teams have made less. In two weeks, UTEP has yet to make a field goal.
Arizona's special teams aren't so special either. A missed field goal in the second half proved to be the difference between an overtime game and a three-point loss against Houston. Much of the blame was placed on a poor snap from the backup long snapper because the starter, Nick Reinhardt, was unavailable due to an injury.
Other than that missed kick, junior Josh Pollack who was both the kicker and the punter last year, was pretty good during that game. It’s always a shame when the kicker has to be absolutely perfect in order for the team to at least tie the game but that is something Arizona fans are use to in recent years.
UTEP returns five starters on defense while filling the rest of the lineup with sophomores. The Miners were third in the C-USA in pass defense and that was before defensive coordinator Tom Mason switched his system from 3-4 to a 4-2-5 to better play to the strengths of defensive backs like senior leader Devin Cockrell.
That means nothing to the Wildcats. Arizona fans brag constantly about blowing out the Arizona State Sun Devils last year in a game in which they didn't even attempt a pass in the second half.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez looked like he had an epiphany after a miserable season in which the lone positive was that the Wildcats averaged more rushing yards per game than any other Pac-12 team. It was evident that he was trying that this season in the opening week against Northern Arizona.
Yet the reason why this offense is being trotted out in the first place is because there is no viable passer in the depth chart. Brandon Dawkins does not look like a quarterback. How can he when against Northern Arizona, he amassed more yards running the ball than passing? He scored more touchdowns on the ground than through the air last season. He has the build and speed of a wide receiver. He's not really a quarterback but he's playing one on TV.
Nepotism is frowned upon when it comes to the NBA and the state of the Los Angeles Clippers, but at this point I'll happily take a jump start to the Rhett Rodriguez era behind center.
Defense or no defense, the Wildcats overall looked unwatchable last week. If they lose to this team? It may count as a fireable offense for Rich Rod. By then, he might as well play his son and ride the rest of the season out.