Schedule and Odds
Arizona surprised everyone but themselves last year in winning the Pac-12 South (10-4, 7-2) after being led by a slew of freshmen. Those guys are back, yet the Wildcats still aren’t getting much respect and have just the Fourth-best odds to win the Pac-12 (+600 at 5Dimes sportsbook) behind USC and UCLA, also of the South.
Quarterback Anu Solomon was great in his first year in Rich Rodriguez’s offense, throwing for 3,793 yards, 28 TDs and 9 INTs. His problem was with consistency as seen in Arizona’s Four losses last season. against USC he attempted 72 passes, yet only had one touchdown, at UCLA he went 18-of-48, and against Oregon in the Pac-12 title Game, Solomon was just 6-of-12 for 34 yards before getting benched because the Game was over early. He’s joined once again by running back Nick Wilson (1,375 yards, 16 TDs) and receivers Cayleb Jones (1,019 yards, 9 TDs) and Samajie Grant (718 yards, 6 TDs).
The issue for Arizona will be on the offensive line where they lose three long-tenured guys that had garnered 130 career starts. They brought in Freddie Tagaloa from California and he looks set to fill the left tackle spot, but he’s still new in this offense. The skill players are there, but it will be up to the line to surpass last year’s levels.
The Wildcats weren’t all that great on the defensive end last season but they weren’t terrible, giving up 28.2 points per Game. The most they struggled all season was in the final two Games, allowing 51 points to Oregon and 38 to Boise State. The group is mostly bend-but-don’t-break, which hurt them against a team like the Ducks in their second meeting.
They lose their best three players from the secondary, which has to be addressed immediately playing in the pass-happy Pac-12. Returning starters William Parks and Jarvis McCall will have to lead the way in a defense that runs an unusual 3-3-5 set. And of course, the defense can’t be mentioned without linebacker SCooby Wright, who led all of FBS in tackles, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. The other two linebacker spots are in flux, but Wright should hold down the middle of the field once again.
Arizona’s Schedule isn’t overwhelmingly difficult to not expect them to reach 10 wins again. A road Game at Nevada won’t be easy, but the Wildcats should enter the season 3-0 before hosting UCLA and travelling to Stanford in their first two Conference Games. From there, nothing stands out until late road Games at USC and Arizona State, which could easily decide who wins the South Division. The one problem with Zona’s Schedule is that they don’t have a bye week, unless you consider the final week of the season, in which it won’t mean anything unless they win the division.
The Wildcats could reach 10 wins again, but with some difficult road Games, may only hit the nine-win mark in the regular season. Nevertheless, this team won’t go down easy, as seen last year. If the offensive line doesn’t take a step back, the offense should be one of the best in the conference.
2015 Arizona Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. UTSA
Sept. 12 at Nevada
Sept. 19 vs. Northern Arizona
Sept. 26 vs. UCLA
Oct. 3 at Stanford
Oct. 10 vs. Oregon State
Oct. 17 at Colorado
Oct. 24 vs. Washington State
Oct. 31 at Washington
Nov. 7 at USC
Nov. 14 vs. Utah
Nov. 21 at Arizona State