The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 41 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.
The 15 NCAA-recognized preseason award watch lists were completed Friday, and Arizona junior running back Ka’Deem Carey is one of 17 Pac-12 players to appear on at least three of them.
Carey, who led the nation last year with 1,929 yards rushing, is nominated for the Maxwell Award (Player of the Year), Doak Walker Award (Premier Running Back) and Walter Camp Award (Most Outstanding Player). Arizona senior linebacker Jake Fischer is on the Bednarik Award (Defensive Player of the Year) watch list.
The preliminary watch lists can be updated throughout the season, so an opportunity always exists for another Arizona player to be recognized.
The Wildcats have never featured an offensive player who won such an award. Only College Football Hall of Fame inductee Rob Waldrop, the stellar defensive tackle/nose guard during the Desert Swarm era of the early 1990s, has won two awards in one season: The 1993 Outland (Most Outstanding Interior Lineman) and Bronko Nagurski (Most Outstanding Defensive Player).
The Wildcats’ other award winners:
— Jim Thorpe (Best Defensive Back): Darryll Lewis (1990) and Antoine Cason (2007).
— Lou Groza (Top Place-Kicker): Steve McLaughlin (1994).
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, a viable Pac-12 Coach of the Year candidate last season for leading the Wildcats to an 8-5 season in his first year, will once again have to get the most out of a smaller talent pool than other Pac-12 programs in 2013. The Wildcats have only four award nominees with Carey and Fischer.
Stanford and USC have the most in the Pac-12 with 20. Oregon is next with 19, followed by ASU (18), UCLA (15) and Oregon State (11).
Stanford coach David Shaw, who has won the last two Pac-12 coach of the year awards, has proven to guide his players to their talent level. USC coach Lane Kiffin, whose team finished a disappointing 7-6 last season after garnering a preseason No. 1 ranking, appears to get the least out of a significant array of talent.
Former ASU coach Dennis Erickson, now the co-offensive coordinator at Utah, left the cupboard full for second-year coach Todd Graham in Tempe. Will Sutton, a senior defensive tackle who resisted the temptation to leave to the NFL early, is listed on six award watch lists. Carl Bradford, a junior linebacker at ASU, is nominated for three awards.
ASU junior quarterback Taylor Kelly and running back Marion Grice are listed for two awards.
With the amount of individual talent at ASU, it should be interesting to see if Graham will be efficient like Shaw or under perform like Kiffin.
Here is a further breakdown of the award watch lists, with first the ranking of Pac-12 nominees by school:
1. Stanford 20
3. Oregon 19
4. ASU 18
5. UCLA 15
6. Oregon State 11
7. Washington 8
8. Colorado 5
9. Arizona 4
10. California 3
11. Washington State 2
12. Utah 1
2013 COLLEGE FOOTBALL WATCH LISTS
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The best Arizona player to wear No. 41, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is linebacker Mark Jacobs (1974-76). He was an All-WAC selection as a sophomore, and later became football coach at Flowing Wells High School, his alma mater.
Last year, this site and TucsonCitizen.com ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series. I will relive that list here with less than 50 days to kickoff and add one game to it: Arizona’s improbable 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December. I will keep the ranking of that game secret in the new top 50 list until the day I publish it.
No. 41 — Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time
No. 42 — Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU
No. 43 — Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 44 — Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics
No. 45 — Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally
No. 46 — Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason
No. 47 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish
No. 48 — Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech
No. 49 — Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State
No. 50 — Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal
Dropped out — Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians
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.