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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

High-powered Arizona offense is bread and butter

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Bill Mason, Cat Tran Driver (Brown hair) Dennis Cady, Cat Tran Driver (black and white striped shirt) AJ Dowgiert, Cat Tran Driver (Plaid/Checkered Shirt)

Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez is going into his fourth season in Tucson, and for once the Wildcats are returning a starting quarterback as well as a running back.

Three quarterbacks in four seasons isn’t the ideal situation for any coach, but the Wildcats are 2-1 in bowl games under Rodriguez, and the one loss comes from last season’s heartbreaking Fiesta Bowl against Boise State.

Now that Rich Rodriguez is settled in at Arizona, he doesn’t have the Mike Stoops players who were lingering on the roster. Wide receiver Austin Hill was the final Stoops player last season, and now it’s the official start of the Rich Rod era.

Last season there was a quartet of quarterbacks competing for a starting spot, and the decision of who was starting didn’t come until game day was nearing. This season has a different story, though.

Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon is now a redshirt sophomore and is the face of the high-powered Arizona offense. Solomon threw for 3,793 yards on 313 completions out of 540 attempts, which was good enough for 28 passing touchdowns. With Arizona running the spread offense, Solomon is able to run out of the pocket and create plays with his feet, running 291 yards for two touchdowns.

The other face of the offense is running back Nick Wilson, who will look to have a breakout sophomore season. Wilson averaged over 100 yards per game, ran for 16 touchdowns and became the successor for All-American Ka’Deem Carey. Wilson adds another dimension to the Arizona offense, and now that he’s not sharing the ball with Terris Jones-Grigsby anymore, look for Wilson to stack up the stat sheet this season.

Along with the running game, Arizona still has the deep receiving core from last season, only losing Hill. Arizona returns Samajie Grant, who had a productive season with 718 yards but was cited for suspicion of driving under the influence following Arizona’s win against ASU.

Grant plays slot receiver, so Arizona needs a big target on the outside to throw fade routes to. That’s where Texas transfer Cayleb Jones comes into play. Jones transferred in 2013, so he only played last season, and with a 6-foot-3 frame, Jones is sure to have a big season.

There’s still a constant rotation at receiver with Trey Griffey, Nate Phillips and David Richards present. Every player has had game experience, so the Wildcats will not have the excuse of players being too raw when it comes to mistakes. Arizona will have many weapons on the offensive side of the ball, which will come in handy considering the Pac-12 Conference South is the deepest it has been in a long time.

With teams like USC returning a large cast of players along with ASU, Arizona will have a challenge. When UCLA isn’t dealing with a bad boy swinging a kettle bell at a strength coach, they are returning a cast of players to compete in the conference as well.

Arizona had a remarkable season last season with the Hail Mary, winning the Pac-12 South and earning a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. If somehow the Wildcats top last season even with a deep conference and some losses on the offensive side of the ball, look for Arizona’s offense to be a juggernaut for years to come.

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