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Why the bye week comes at a good time for Arizona football

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Oregon State v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There is never a bad time to have a bye week, but there are definitely good times to have one, and that applies to the Arizona Wildcats right now after they were drubbed by the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday for their fourth straight loss.

Here is what the 4-5 Wildcats can accomplish during their time off.

Get healthier

The offensive line got decimated against Oregon State, with right guard Bryson Cain, center Josh McCauley, and left tackle Donovan Laie all exiting with injuries.

The unit was already without starting right guard Cody Creason, and it would have been interesting to see how many of these guys would have been able to play this week if the Wildcats had a game. Safe to say Arizona will not be able to survive with a makeshift unit against Oregon, Utah and Arizona State.

There is also kicker Lucas Havrisik, who Kevin Sumlin noted has been dealing with an undisclosed injury for a few weeks. It was evident Saturday when he missed an extra point and a 38-yard field goal, and didn’t boom the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs the way he usually does.

Surely there are other players dealing with bumps and bruises that will greatly benefit from a week off. A guy like Finton Connolly, who has been playing through an arm injury, comes to mind.

Recover mentally

The Wildcats can use the time off to take a deep breath and mentally reset from the butt-kickings they have received the last four weeks.

Sumlin said the postgame conversation with the team Saturday was about sticking together and not pointing fingers, which can be easy to do when things are going as poorly as they are right now. Not to mention that Sumlin essentially pointed fingers at Marcel Yates and John Rushing by firing them, and both were very well-liked by Arizona players.

And if anyone was upset about the decision to let Yates go, the week off gives them some time to get over it and move forward.

Reassess the depth chart

The bye gives the coaching staff a chance to sit down and assess the roster and reorganize the depth chart. One decision they will have to make is whether or not they want to burn the redshirts of freshman offensive lineman Jordan Morgan and punter Kyle Ostendorp.

Morgan subbed in against Oregon State due to the aforementioned injuries, his fourth appearance of the season. One more and he can no longer redshirt.

Ostendorp has appeared in three games but has punted well the last two games, so it wouldn’t be in the team’s best short-term interest to bench him after four games. The only other player of note who could surpass four games is defensive end Kwabena Watson, who has made two appearances.

And, yes, Sumlin and company have to decide how to move forward at quarterback. Grant Gunnell has outplayed Khalil Tate the past two weeks and starting the freshman would not only give the team the best chance to win, it would also generate some buzz the program desperately needs after getting handled on Homecoming.

The wide receiver positions seem like ones that are due for a long look with so many young players getting snaps there. Nine different Wildcats have made at least one start at WR.

Implement some defensive changes

Chuck Cecil’s first day as defensive coordinator was last Monday, so he only had a few practices to make his mark on the game plan heading into the Oregon State game. It showed. It was more of the same.

But now Cecil has, essentially, two weeks to go back to the drawing board and formulate something, anything, that can help the Wildcats not be so porous on defense. Maybe that means devising some new blitz packages or weeding out coverages or personnel packages that have proven to be ineffective.

Make up some ground on the recruiting trail

The last time Arizona had a bye week, Sumlin was in a helicopter on his way to visit a pair of Phoenix-area recruits. UA’s 2020 class currently ranks 76th in the country and 11th in the Pac-12, per 247Sports, so it’s time to head back on the recruiting trail to try to bolster this class.

High school football playoffs in several states, including Arizona, just so happen to start this week, too, so the timing is good. Then again, any recruits that had a relationship with Marcel Yates or John Rushing might not know what to think about the Arizona program right now.