The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 96 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
Arizona’s non-conference schedule in 2013 does not include a major-college program of note with FCS team Northern Arizona, Mountain West cellar-dweller UNLV and fledgling program Texas-San Antonio (in only its third year of existence).
The Wildcats’ first three games are so suspect that I rated Arizona’s non-conference slate one of the easiest in the nation in a recent Lindy’s Sports article.
Although NAU, UNLV or UTSA are not acronyms associated with college football lore, they do possess players worth mentioning who will be a focal point of Arizona’s preparation the week of the game. Here is a list of returning first-team all-conference performers from each team:
Zach Bauman (5-10, 202), senior running back. He is an All-Big Sky pick the last two years. He rushed for 1,182 yards last season, his third straight year over the 1,000-yard mark. Bauman, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season, is rated the No. 39 running back NFL prospect in the Class of 2014 by NFLDraftScout.com. Bauman rushed for 99 yards on 27 carries as a sophomore against Arizona in 2011. The Wildcats won that game 41-10 at Arizona Stadium.
Anders Battle (6-2, 185), senior cornerback. He is the Lumberjacks’ leading returning tackler with 64. He also had a sack, interception and six passes broken up.
Lucky Dozier (5-10, 185), senior safety. He led NAU with four interceptions last season. He also broke up five passes and recovered a fumble. Battle and Dozier are two of the top players from an NAU defense that led the Big Sky against the pass and was second overall in 2012.
Nolan Kohorst (6-0, 180), senior place-kicker. Kohorst, who led the team in scoring last fall with 68 points, made 12-of-14 field goal attempts for a league-leading percentage of 85.7 (minimum of 10), which ranked 15th in the nation and second in the school’s single-season history. He also made 32-of-33 extra-point attempts.
The Roadrunners are only in their third year of existence on the field and are coached by former Miami coach Larry Coker. The program started to develop in 2006. They were not in a conference in their first two years. They join Conference USA this season.
Former Sabino standout Jeff Popovich, a native Tucsonan, will return to his hometown as part of the UTSA coaching staff. Popovich, a four-year letter winner at Miami from 1996-99, will coach the Roadrunners’ cornerbacks. He coached under Coker with the Hurricanes.
The Roadrunners have 18 starters returning (10 on offense, eight on defense) from a team that finished 8-4 last season. Against their best competition — Rice, San Jose State, Utah State and Louisiana Tech — the Roadrunners were 0-4 and were outscored by a margin of 46.3 to 20.5.
The best player to wear No. 96 for Arizona? Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com goes with Brad Henke, a defensive tackle from 1987-88. He was a JC transfer who had 90 tackles in 1988. Henke has gone on to establish himself as an actor playing parts in motion pictures such as World Trade Center and Must Love Dogs, and also TV series such as Lost, CSI: Miami, Law & Order and E.R.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.