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Arizona Wildcats

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Not much needs to be said about how last season went for Arizona as injuries once again derailed hopes of doing anything. The Wildcats lost their first eight conference games before beating Arizona State in the finale. With questions remaining at quarterback, a bowl game is the goal for 2017.

At quarterback, the Wildcats got another competitor in Donavan Tate, but it’s hard to see him taking the starting spot over Brandon Dawkins or Khalil Tate. Dawkins has the most experience of them, but most of his damage was done on the ground last season with 944 rushing yards. He was mediocre in the passing game with a 53.8% completion rate, 8 TDs and 6 INTs. Elsewhere, health is the main issue from the offensive line to the backfield. The line has a few seniors to work with as long as they don’t get hurt and the same can be said at running back where Nick Wilson returns after another injury-depleted campaign, along with J.J. Taylor. Receiver is a toss-up after Arizona didn’t get much done in that aspect last season, but Shun Brown (521 yards, 3 TDs) will likely lead the way again.

If the offense can’t match last season’s 24.8 points per game, then it could be another long year because the defense isn’t going to become elite overnight after they allowed an average of 38.3 points. To help Rich Rodriguez is that the only way to go is up with a lot of their top guys returning. The secondary is the most experienced group, although it was gashed last season. Safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles returns as their leading tackler with corners Jace Whittaker and Dane Cruikshank providing experience. Finding players to step up on the front seven will also be plenty important with senior linebacker DeAndre’ Miller hoping to stay healthy and make a difference.

To help, the Wildcats get another manageable non-conference slate, although a home loss to Houston wouldn’t be surprising. With questions at quarterback, Arizona may have trouble finding its first Pac-12 win with a difficult slate to start. To reach four or five wins, the Wildcats will likely have to win a road game or two with those coming at Cal or Arizona State. Otherwise, a bowl game may not be in the cards again.

The Wildcats aren’t expected to do much with  +8000 odds (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the conference, which places them in last place yet again, behind rival ASU. In fact, that season finale will probably decide which team comes in last in the South division.


2017 Arizona Wildcats Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Northern Arizona
Sept. 9 vs. Houston
Sept. 15 at UTEP
Sept. 22 vs. Utah

Oct. 7 at Colorado
Oct. 14 vs. UCLA
Oct. 21 at California

Oct. 28 vs. Washington State
Nov. 4 at USC
Nov. 11 vs. Oregon State
Nov. 18 at Oregon
Nov. 25 at Arizona State

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