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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Will Rob Gronkowski’s injury kill Arizona’s bowl chances?

Yes: The tight end’s presence too much to overcome

To say that something definitively will or will not happen isn’t realistic. There are too many variables, too many unknowns and too many downright miracles.

Did anyone think Washington would beat USC? Exactly.

But losing tight end Rob Gronkowski is as devastating a blow as Arizona could have possibly endured this season, and it might be too much for the Wildcats to overcome.

Arizona’s offense was at a crossroads when the season started. The talent was shining from every position, the two quarterback candidates were believed to have the ability to win games on their own and the tight end was an All-American and a possible first round NFL Draft pick.

But Gronkowski injured his back and two things happened once he went down. First, Arizona lost its best player, and second, the growth of the two inexperienced sophomore quarterbacks was seriously curbed.

Think about it. Gronkowski was arguably the best tight end in the country, and standing at 6-foot-6 while possessing the best hands on the team, he presented a threat that no single player could defend by himself.

He forced defenses to put a safety and a linebacker on him, opening the field for receivers and freeing up inside space for the running game to flourish. Without him in the lineup, defenses have been more physical with Arizona’s receivers and have stacked the box to try and stop the run.

The rushing attack was effective at first, but once defenses committed to stacking the box the offense stopped moving. The receivers, although very talented, have been completely shut down.

And the quarterbacks, oh the quarterbacks. Imagine how much better sophomore Matt Scott would have looked if, rather than tuck-and-run, he could just dump it to his big tight end. The same goes for Foles. Starting the first game of his career this weekend is a life-changing moment, but most likely, he’d rather do it with Gronkowski in uniform.

Now, to say that Arizona will not make a bowl game without Gronkowski is extreme, but the cards are stacked against them, and they’re stacked pretty high.

With a young quarterback and a brutal remaining schedule, No. 48’s presence will be sorely missed.

 — Tim Kosch

No: Losing one player isn’t the end of the world

One player does not a team make.

Is Rob Gronkowski a freakish talent and likely the best player on that Wildcat football team? Yes.

Will his season-long absence hurt the team’s offensive output? Most certainly.

Will the loss of a single playmaker cripple Arizona’s hopes of playing a 13th game this season? Absolutely not.

There are far more things for the Wildcats to worry about than how they will replace Gronkowski, and they’ve already dealt with that. Without the 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end last season, Arizona started the year 2-1 and with the road loss in nonconference play.

Granted, Gronkowski came back in the fourth game and the offense took off, but it wasn’t his return that drove the Wildcats to the Las Vegas Bowl berth they would earn later in the season.

It was a hungry defense and a beastly running attack.

And guess what? Those both appear to be back this season.

UA head coach Mike Stoops said Nic Grigsby is one of the most underrated running backs in the nation and he and sophomore Keola Antolin, a bowling ball full of energy, provide a solid one-two punch for Arizona.

Even with a lackluster performance in a 10-point loss to Iowa, the Wildcat defense has played well this season. Arizona held Central Michigan in check all game long and a feisty NAU squad was limited to just 10 points. CMU’s head coach even said Arizona’s was the fastest defense he’d ever seen, and his squad has played games against Georgia in recent years.

Everybody knows about Arizona’s issues at the quarterback position and Gronkowski would undoubtedly make that easier to sort out, but college football is about adapting to what’s thrown in front of you.

Injuries are a part of football. If the Wildcats take too long feeling sorry for themselves they won’t be playing past the first week of December.

It’s a good thing for them that they’ve already moved on.

— Brian Kimball

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