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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Football staff picks

How will Arizona finish?

Depending on how the ball bounces, the Wildcats could play in a January bowl game or stay home for the holidays. They have a tough schedule with five conference road games and there are questions marks on both sides of the ball. That being said, this group is playing with more chips on its collective shoulder than Humpty Dumpty. Expect a few bumps in the road, but Arizona should find itself in the top half of the conference at season’s end.

8-4, Sun Bowl

—Brian Kimball, sports writer

Last year’s record might have set expectations a little too high. An out-of-conference schedule of Central Michigan, NAU and Iowa makes last season’s Idaho, Toledo and New Mexico lineup look like using a puppy instead of a pickup line. Arizona is improved across the board, but they’re lacking star power after losing players to the NFL. And as usual, they’ll have one upset win and one letdown loss.

7-5, Las Vegas Bowl

—Kevin Zimmerman, sports editor

There is a reason Mike Stoops has yet to name a starter at quarterback and it’s not because Nick Foles and Matt Scott have both been impressive. In fact, Arizona coaches have hinted at quite the opposite. This can’t be positive and even though the Wildcat’s defense should be stellar, Arizona’s running game will be the team’s only chance of seeing the postseason.

6-6, Hawaii Bowl

—Bobby Stover, sports writer

This is one of the most intriguing seasons in Wildcats history. On one hand, the team is fresh off its first bowl victory in a decade and possibly has more talent than last years’ team. On the other hand that talent, at this point, is merely potential and they don’t have a quarterback. The lack of a QB has put the ‘Cats on the backburner of the national spotlight, but there’s something about this team. They’re going bowling again.

8-4, Pacific Life Holiday Bowl

—Tim Kosch, sports writer

Team MVP

This year’s Arizona squad only has one true star. Just looking at Rob Gronkowski can be intimidating. Imagine Juggernaut from X-Men roaming the football field, but THIS Juggernaut is a fast, 6-foot-6, 265-pound beast of a man AND he’s wearing full pads. In 2007, Gronkowski scored a touchdown after concussing a Washington State player just because the Cougar defensive back tried to make a tackle. Do you understand how ridiculous that is?

Rob Gronkowski

 

Brian Kimball, sports writer

In this case, Arizona found a diamond in its own rough. Sabino High School product Brooks Reed is the big name at the defensive end position. Lion mane and all, he’ll be the biggest factor on the Wildcat defense. He has the speed and power that any coach drools over, but it’s his never-ending aggressiveness that will make his game so dominating.

Brooks Reed

—Kevin Zimmerman, sports editor

The defense will keep the Wildcats in contention this year. Even though he had a disappointing end to last season, look for linebacker Sterling Lewis to come up big in 2009. Last season the senior played in only 10 games but recorded 59 tackles with a sack, forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Lewis missed out on the team’s last three games in 2009 due to an injury and a team issued suspension, but will be hungry to perform in his senior season.

Sterling Lewis

Bobby Stover, sports writer

Delashaun Dean is legit. He’s tall, he’s fast and he has great hands. His coaches refer to him as a “”freak athlete.”” Without any marquee receivers in the Pac-10, this is Dean’s chance to bust out and be a star. Look for Dean to come up big in the first few weeks while opposing teams key on tight end Rob Gronkowski. When they start doubling Dean, it’ll open up the offense like never before. It’s a win-win.

Delashaun Dean

—Tim Kosch, sports writer

Upset

Mike Stoops’ troops have made a name for themselves with strong showings late in the season, and this year should be no exception. By the time the last portion of the season rolls around, the QB situation should be well past the Wildcats. Couple all of that with California’s tendency to tank late in the year and the Nov. 14 trip to Berkeley could be where the Wildcats upset fans of the Golden Bears.

Arizona beats Cal

Brian Kimball, sports writer

Mike Stoops won a lot of games while playing for legendary head coach Hayden Fry at Iowa — that trend will continue this year. Iowa is ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press poll, but the Hawkeyes just learned they will be without running back Jewel Hampton and his injured knee. Offensively, the Hawkeyes want to pound the ball, but without their starter, they could be in trouble against the Wildcats.

Arizona beats Iowa

Kevin Zimmerman, sports editor

This may not be an upset in everyone’s mind, but due to its status as a non-BCS school, Central Michigan will likely enter Saturday’s contest the underdog. After making it to the postseason the past three seasons and a strong veteran foundation back this season, the Chippewas are not a team to be overlooked. Also, Arizona historically has at least one collapse against mid-major schools early in the year under Mike Stoops. The potential for the upset is there.

Central Michigan beats Arizona

Bobby Stover, sports writer

It might seem insane but the signs are there. USC is as vulnerable this year as they’ve ever been; they’re starting a freshman at quarterback, they basically have an entirely new defense and they have two new coordinators. Arizona seems to be blossoming at every position, but since USC is the last game of the year, the situation has plenty of time to sort itself out. UA on the way up, USC on the way down? Why not?

Arizona beats USC

Tim Kosch, sports writer

X-Factor

The easy choice here is the quarterback dilemma, but I don’t see it that way. The big boys who block for the QBs will be the key to the Wildcats’ season. Players are relatively inexperienced at their respective positions entering the season, but coaches think this group could be better than last year’s unit with star left tackle Eben Britton. If this group can protect as well as a Trojan MAGNUM, it won’t make a difference who’s under center.

Offensive line

Brian Kimball, sports writer

The potential was always there and entering his junior year, wide receiver Delashaun Dean will most likely be the best offensive player overshadowed by tight end Rob Gronkowski’s. He’s tall, athletic and has the flash of Chad Ochocinco, but without the poorly-phrased Spanish last name. Now, he’ll get more balls thrown his way without a dominant slot receiver like Mike Thomas on the team.

Delashaun Dean

Kevin Zimmerman, sports editor

Arizona’s passing attack is bursting with questions, but one constant the Wildcats have seen offensively throughout the preseason is their running game. Arizona currently has three running backs who the coaches have called “”potential starters.”” Junior Nic Grigsby will likely lead the charge behind a veteran offensive line while underclassmen Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko will each provide their own brand of speed and power. Arizona will need to heavily rely on its ground game to be successful.

Running Game

Bobby Stover, sports writer

With a plethora of capable receivers, three quality running backs and an All-American tight end, the Wildcats are stacked on offense. It almost doesn’t seem like there’s room for anyone on the offense, but that’s where Arizona’s secret weapon comes in – Chris Gronkowski. Rob’s brother is one of the hardest working players on the team, refining his routes after practice to add to his above-average blocking.

Chris Gronkowski

Tim Kosch, sports writer

 

 

 

 

 

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