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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Staff Picks

    Brian Kimball Assistant Sports Editor / Football Beat Writer

    How will Arizona finish?

    This year thing seemed to have fallen into place for the Wildcat football team. The Wildcats have a favorable nonconference schedule to go along with the friendlier version of their two possible conference slates. With home games against California, USC and ASU, a victory in two of those games doesn’t seem unlikely. The offense is clicking and the defense is hungry to make a name for itself. That all amounts to a recipe for success.
    8-4, Brut Sun Bowl

    Team MVP

    After leading the Pacific 10 Conference last season with 83 grabs, Wildcat fans should see more of the same from wide receiver Mike Thomas. Thomas was Tuitama’s go-to-guy last season, and the two seniors could combine for even more success this season. Defenses won’t be able to key in on Thomas because of all the other playmakers on the Arizona offense. Expect Thomas to put up even bigger numbers than last year’s 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns.
    Mike Thomas

    Upset

    The Wildcats are capable of putting together a special season this year, but they have to play well away from Arizona Stadium, too. That’s been a problem for Arizona recently and the team needs to get off to a fast start at home this season to set the tone for its road games. Barring mental lapses or any more unforeseen injuries, look for Arizona to ‘Bear Down’ on the road this season and possibly even sweep its schedule away from Tucson.
    At least four road wins this season

    X-Factor

    As long as Arizona doesn’t have to play Rocky Balboa, there’s no doubt Drago will be one of the Wildcats’ main offensive weapons. Not Ivan Drago from Rocky III, but Rob “”Drago”” Gronkowski. He could miss a chunk of the season with an illness, but he’s such a dynamic player that it shouldn’t matter. When he returns to the starting lineup, opposing defenses can’t stack the box or blitz quarterback Willie Tuitama to death.
    Rob Gronkowski

    Lance Madden Sports Editor

    How will Arizona finish?

    Ten years without anything you once cherished is detrimental, just ask anyone who isn’t the biggest George W. Bush fan. Coincidently, 1998 was the year Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky got funky. It was also the year Arizona last went to a bowl game. With head coach Mike Stoops on the hot seat and senior QB Willie Tuitama looking for his last chance to turn the Wildcat program around, UA will fight harder than it has in the last decade.
    7-5, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

    Team MVP

    Living in Tucson, you’ve got to have a spot in your heart for Wildcats’ senior signal caller Willie Tuitama. He’s been concussed multiple times, he broke 10 school records last season but more importantly, he has yet to take the Wildcats to the postseason. As the current face of the program, Tuitama needs to – and will – leave more of an impression on the program than just his puka shells.
    Willie Tuitama

    Upset

    This installment of the Duel of the Desert could have the Wildcats teetering on the edge of bowl eligibility for the third straight season. Not only would a win over the Sun Devils likely give the Wildcats a win over a nationally ranked team, but it would figuratively slap a huge piece of duct tape of the mouth of ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who should shut up and let his playing do the talking.
    Arizona over ASU

    X-factor

    The combined record for Arizona’s nonconference opponents is 15-22. What’s more, the Wildcats’ three toughest games on paper – California, USC and ASU – are all at home. With Arizona going 11-15 at home – including three wins over NAU – in the Stoops era, that doesn’t say much. But now Stoops has a roster full of players he recruited and who know their respective squad’s schemes. This could mean Stoops could come up with his first winning season at the helm.
    Favorable schedule

    Ari Wasserman Assistant Sports Editor / Football Beat Writer

    How will Arizona finish?

    There is too much riding on this season for Arizona not to get their allusive bowl berth. I am completely aware that every season everyone has predicted a postseason appearance, but this year the stars finally seem aligned for the Wildcats. The key? Just look at their first six games. If Arizona goes 6-0 like I think they can, or even 5-1, there is no way Mike Stoops & Co. won’t get there given their track record with November games. Besides, Stoops’ job is riding on it.
    8-4, Las Vegas Bowl

    Team MVP

    There are too many easy picks on this one. You could say Willie Tuitama, Mike Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, you know, the offensive playmakers. While all the aforementioned names will undoubtedly be essential to Arizona’s success, there is somebody else who must come up big for Arizona this season and that is senior linebacker Ronnie Palmer. There is no question Arizona will score points this season. The uncertainty of Arizona’s offense is the worry. Palmer, the leader of a defensive squad that returns only two other starters, will rise up into the leadership role and have an outstanding season.
    Ronnie Palmer

    Upset

    The only team on Arizona’s schedule that would be a monumental upset would be USC, and that simply isn’t going to happen. While wins over California, Oregon and ASU would be huge for the Wildcats, I am not sure I would necessarily classify them as upsets. Arizona should be competitive with every team this season, and while I predict a win over ASU at home this season, that should not be considered an upset.
    Win over ASU, no upset

    X-factor

    Arizona has become accustomed to having a lockdown corner making huge plays in big games in Antoine Cason over the course of the past few seasons. Well, Cason is gone now, but a spark on defense will be needed. Enter freshman defensive back Robert Golden. Stoops has talked very highly of the freshman who already looks to have an NFL body, so expect Golden to get a good amount of time at nickel and at corner and have an impact this year.
    Robert Golden

    Bobby StoverStaff Writer

    How will Arizona finish?

    There are many reasons that say Arizona will suffer its 10th straight bowl-less season, but then again, there are a few which strongly suggest the opposite-the best being the strategically-designed schedule. Supposed pushover teams like Idaho and New Mexico along with a comforting organization of the Pac-10 schedule might just be the recipe this youthful team needs to finally squeeze its way into bowl season.
    7-5, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

    Team MVP

    Last season Arizona finished one win away from a potential bowl berth. In three of those games, the Wildcats fell short by three points or fewer. Special teams is often an underrated aspect of the game, but boy can it make a difference. With an offense that showed weaknesses at times last season the most critical weapon on Arizona’s sideline will be the leg of place kicker Jason Bondzio.
    Jason Bondzio

    Upset

    It’s hard to go against tradition and during the Mike Stoops’ era, rushing the field on homecoming has become one of those. Both UCLA and California have been victims and this year the powerful Trojans of USC are the new target. Hey, if beating the No. 7 Bruins was possible in 2005 and the No. 8 Golden Bears in 2006, why the heck not this year?
    USC (Homecoming) 37-35

    X-factor

    This year’s team is full of inexperience, but also talent. Impressive youngsters like running back Keola Antolin and cornerback Robert Golden should see action as well as the many exciting players who’ve waited their turn behind past starters. With all of these players along with quarterback Willie Tuitama, confidence will be the key. If they feel they are All-Conference players, perhaps they will play like them.
    Confidence

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