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Going into the season I was very optimistic, maybe a little too optimistic, for a team playing in one of the most difficult divisions in the nation with a fairly inexperienced offensive line.
I was optimistic because of all the talent on both sides of the ball and because of Rich Rodriguez’s coaching ability.
The Wildcats are through four games and are 3-1, yet it feels like the sky is falling after the debacle last Saturday night against UCLA. Maybe it is. As a fan base, maybe it is time to pack it in and call it a season. Try again next year. After all, Anu Solomon is hurt. Scooby Wright is out for multiple weeks. The defense needs major work and Arizona is no longer in the top 25.
The Wildcats have eight more games to play. They opened as 17.5-point underdogs against Stanford (now at 13.5 points). Arizona has not won a game in Palo Alto, Calif., since 2006. As it stands right now, Arizona will play three more ranked teams.
Stanford opens as a 17.5 point favorite over Arizona.
But this Arizona team has way too much talent to pack it in and look forward to next year. As a fan base, we need to realize that. Who expected a big year out of Scooby last year? I sure didn’t. Someone will come in and fill his place. Possibly even outplay him. Remember Wally Pipp?
The road will not be easy. If the Wildcats can get through these next two games, Arizona has some easier match-ups (Colorado and Washington State) that in theory should be wins and can give some of the reserves some necessary reps who are filling in because of injury.
The main question in everyone’s mind is if Solomon will pay Saturday. If he cannot go, the possible back-ups are Jerrard Randall or Brandon Dawkins.
Randall did okay filling in for Solomon but he struggles to throw the ball, which will make Arizona’s offense very one dimensional. That was shown in the second half of the UCLA game when the Bruins crowded the line and dared him to throw the ball. That’s why he only completed 25 percent of his passes for 45 yards.
Dawkins entered the game late in the game and went 2-for-2 in the air for 15 yards. Coming out of high school in 2014 he was a three-star recruit out of Southern California. How he will adapt to the big stage is unknown but I think unless he shows the coaches something major in practice this week we will most likely see Randall on Saturday if Solomon cannot go.
Every great team has some obstacles to overcome and Arizona is no different. If the Wildcats can get through these next couple games, the team’s confidence level will rise and so will the fan’s optimism.
The sky is not falling in Tucson. Some injuries have just changed the expectations.
Nick Latta is an accomplished youth golfer from Tucson who follows high school sports and the University of Arizona closely. Currently on the golf team at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, Calif.