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Arizona football: 5 Wildcats to watch vs. UTEP

A young batch of players to keep an eye on

Houston v Arizona
Arizona safety Lorenzo Burns
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Wildcats will be busing to El Paso, Texas for week three, coming off a frustrating loss to Houston to find themselves even at 1-1.

The Miners are still searching for their first win of the season after falling to Oklahoma and Rice.

In what figures to be a glorified practice for Arizona, here are five players to watch on Friday.

Bryce Wolma

Wolma played a lot of snaps in place of Trevor Wood, who is still battling a foot injury. The 6-foot-3, 239-pound freshman hauled in five balls for 38 yards, accounting for about 30 percent of Brandon Dawkins’ completions.

There aren’t a lot of strong weapons in the passing game, which makes Wolma extremely valuable as the healthiest tight end available.

Dawkins doesn’t have much time, is usually on the run, and has shown some inconsistencies. So at least here Wolma gives him a short to intermediate option that he can start utilizing more.

Nathan Tilford

Here is one of Rich Rodriguez’ highest-ranked recruits who turned heads all spring long after enrolling early. But through two games, Tilford has four carries. Arizona’s strongest position group is clearly running back, but it’s interesting to see that Tilford has isn’t seeing much action.

Nick Wilson might return, though I don’t think he needs to play against UTEP nor does JJ Taylor need a full work load. Zach Green is a viable option, and I appreciate his role on offense, but it just seems odd that Tilford hasn’t been involved.

It might be wishful thinking, but perhaps this is where Tilford starts to get a few more carries out of the backfield. At the very least, we know that he is going to be active on special teams.

Lorenzo Burns

Houston really targeted Lorenzo Burns’ side of the field, and he eventually made them pay after he came up with a big drive-killing interception.

He leads the team in tackles, and as a redshirt freshman he has a lot of potential to tap into. Like most of the defense, Burns is only going to get better as the season goes on, and I think the interception will definitely help him build confidence.

UTEP is without their starting quarterback, and so it could be another big confidence-building week for Burns as Arizona approaches Pac-12 play.

Kylan Wilborn

Arizona’s pass rush has already looked a lot stronger and physical, and a large part of that is due to Wilborn’s presence on the edge.

I was a little shocked to see that he only had four tackles, but his quarterback hurries and hits that don’t show up on the box score are way more valuable. He also has two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble.

We don’t know how long DeAndre’ Miller will be out, but for consistency sake I might still take Wilborn at stud. Jalen Harris and Jose Ramirez rotating in at stud certainly gives Arizona a young, solid trio as well.

Tristan Cooper

The former two-star recruit is coming home to play in front of his friends and family. He also has two former teammates from Andress High School on offense for UTEP, however Ryan Metz is out with a shoulder injury.

During his recruitment process, Cooper told me that the Arizona offer really stood out to him because not a lot of El Paso kids make it out of Texas, let alone get to a Power Five program.

It’s an exciting week for Cooper, and although Dane Cruikshank has rolled over as the starting spur safety, I still expect Cooper to create some sort of big play during his homecoming.