To get a Arizona point of view on Saturday's match-up against the Wildcats in Tucson we sat down with Arizona Desert Swarm for a quick Q&A.
Rich Rodriguez came in to start a new era with Arizona after the departure of Mike Stoops. With a 5-4 record and some good wins and a couple of bad losses, how do fans feel about the course of the season so far? What do you expect the rest of the year?
Sentiment was sky high after the USC win, but feels pretty low following the drubbing at UCLA. That was the definition of letdown game; it's easier for fans to swallow heartbreaking losses to Stanford and Oregon State, because learning to win close games against great teams is part of rebuilding. Getting smashed is never heartening, particularly when there's that glimmer of hope the team can win the division. Arizona could win out in this final stretch, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that the mounting injuries and the exposure of the defense lead to three more losses. Neither would surprise me.
Quarterback Matt Scott's concussion is obviously a huge hit to this team and this offense. What should we know about back-up B.J. Denker? Will he be able to get it done?
Denker's something of a mystery. He's mobile, which obviously fits the Rich Rodriguez philosophy, but he's looked nervous every time he's been on the field. I anticipate a heavy dose of Ka'Deem Carey and Daniel Jenkins via the rush, especially in the first half -- which leads me to No. 3.
With Matt Scott out, I expect we will see a ton of Ka'Deem Carey. What kind of back is he and what makes him dangerous?
Carey isn't huge. Obviously you aren't talking about an Alabama ball carrier who could double at linebacker. He's great at finding holes though, and his legs keep churning. He has an uncanny knack for reaching the second level after contact, something UA ball carriers haven't done particularly well in years past.
Tell us about Jeff Casteel and what he's brought to this defensive unit. They seem to give up a lot of yards but, outside of the UCLA game, they make plays when they need to. Who are the players to watch for on defense.
Jeff Casteel is the Wizard of Oz as far as I'm concerned. That's not an insult, either; Arizona has so many depth problems on defense, and just the general leftover mess on that side of the ball after the Stoops regime crumbled, that I applaud the schemes he's crafted putting UA in position to win. His use of rovers as been crucial, and both Tra'Mayne Bondurant and Jared Tevis thrive in these roles. Linebackers Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers are athletic and make plays. Finding ways to get into the backfield is the thing most missing from the defense.
If you were Buffaloes head coach Jon Embree how would try and attack this Wildcat defense?
This is a game that if Paul Richardson was healthy, he'd have a career outing. Arizona has struggled with elite receivers, whether quick targets in the slot or big tight ends like ASJ at Washington or Stanford's bevy of trees (pun absolutely intended there). As it stands, if I'm Embree and Eric Bieniemy, I look at how UCLA immediately attacked with Johnathan Franklin and try to replicate with Christian Powell. Make Arizona prove it can stop the rush.
How do you see this game playing out? Could Colorado pull off the upset against the Wildcats for the second year in a row, this time on the road?
Colorado absolutely can upset Arizona. The early start time on Homecoming is bizarre, because the state has only been on Mountain Time for a week. More importantly, UA had the wind taken out of its sails against UCLA. The absence of Matt Scott is a killer; he's been so crucial to this offense humming along the way it has this season. To use a basketball analogy, if Colorado limits scoring drives in the first half and is within a touchdown at halftime, it's nervous-time for the Wildcats, because the Buffs will be like a Cinderella team in the first round: if they believe they can win, they start making plays, show heart, and make the favorite press on what it's trying to accomplish.