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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcat Staff Picks

Taking on three Associated Press top-10 opponents in the first four weeks of the season won’t be an easy task for the Wildcats, and if they can’t get any wins out of those games, it’ll be a long year. However, if the team can pull off an upset against Oregon or Stanford, Arizona will regain some of the necessary confidence that it has been lacking for a long time. The Wildcats return a bevy of their offensive playmakers from last season, and there’s no doubt they have the ability but will they be able to produce when it counts?

X-factor: Offensive line

One of the biggest offseason questions about the Wildcats offense was the concern for the lack of experience on the offensive line. With five new starters, will they be able to allow running lanes to open up and give Nick Foles enough time to throw the football? Only time will tell. Of the five new faces, only Kyle Quinn has started, so it’s going to be a steep learning curve for all involved. It’s simple though, if the line can stop the penetration, the Wildcats will be able to run an offense.

Record prediction: 7-5

Bowl prediction: Sun Bowl

-Dan Kohler

Arizona isn’t going to be a great team in 2011. There are too many holes on the offensive and defensive lines, to be specific, that the Wildcats need to fill to get themselves over the hump they’ve been stuck on the past two seasons. But Arizona also won’t be a bad team. The talent at skill positions is as good as anybody in the conference, USC and Oregon included. The youth on the O-line will burn Arizona at the beginning of the season when it starts out 2-4, but the unit will gel and Arizona will finish the season with momentum — something that hasn’t happened since 2008 — winning its final six contests leading up to the Pac-12 Football Championship Game.

*X-factor: Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele *

How effective Arizona’s offense will be in 2011 really just comes down to the effectiveness of its offensive tackles. If they can give Foles enough time to go through a couple of reads, he’s shown that he’ll find someone that’s open. If not, then things could get ugly.

Record prediction: 8-5 after a loss in the Pac-12 Championship Game

Bowl prediction: Sun Bowl

-Alex Willams

Arizona picked a bad time to have two of the top offensive players in the Pac-12. Nick Foles, Juron Criner and Arizona’s deep receiving corps will shred opponents’ defenses, but the Wildcats’ schedule is too brutal to make a serious splash in the new-look conference. With NAU, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and USC to open the season, Arizona could very well start off the year 1-4. Then add in that Arizona will most likely be without Adam Hall, Jake Fischer and Jonathan McKnight for that nearly impossible stretch and early success becomes that much more unrealistic. The good news is that even if they falter early, the Wildcats could still compete in the Pac-12 South. But if they’re battered early on, it may be too tough to bounce back.
*
X-Factor: Running back stable*

Mike Stoops has made it clear that, if the Wildcats have to, they’ll throw the ball 60 times a game. They certainly have the personnel to air it out, but if they want to compete with the big boys, capitalize on drives and close out games, they need a running game. That’s where Keola Antolin, Daniel Jenkins, Ka’Deem Carey and Kylan Butler come in. If two of these backs can emerge and Arizona’s offensive line can open up holes, Nick Foles won’t need surgery and the Wildcats won’t be one-dimensional. Arizona struggled mightily in the red zone last season, scoring touchdowns only 56 percent of the time, and without a running game, that trend will continue.

Record prediction: 7-5

Bowl prediction: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

-Mike Schmitz

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