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When Arizona went down down 49-3 to Washington, I came to a realization: Arizona will not make a bowl game in 2015.
I said at the beginning of the year that I thought they would go 10-2 in the regular season if the Wildcats could stay healthy. Now, I would be shocked if Arizona made a bowl game and I see four main issues why.
The first issue is that the Wildcats do not have a quarterback. The play of Anu Solomon this season has been poor to say the least. Jerrard Randall can be explosive but isn’t effective throughout a four-quarter game. Once defenses got more film he’s became less and less effective (6.4 raw QBR in the Washington game). While he has improved as a passer, his greatest weapon is his legs. That isn’t a bad thing if you’re a running back or a wide receiver but it doesn’t work as a starting quarterback in one of America’s best conferences.
The second issue is that Arizona’s defense ranks 106th nationally. That won’t kill a team if the offense is explosive. But the offense has been below average in Pac-12 play, only averaging 29 points a game while the defense is giving up 40.5 points a game. I originally thought the defense wasn’t necessarily the problem because the offense wasn’t doing their job, but six games into the Pac-12 season, the problem isn’t one or the other, its both.
Arizona’s third issue is injuries. With two of Arizona’s best defenders on the injury report week in and week out, life gets more difficult. On last week’s injury report Derrick Turituri and Scooby Wright were out against Washington. The two combined for 199 tackles last season and 17 sacks. Now obviously most of those tackles and sacks came from Scooby because of the amazing year he had. The point is losing those guys really hurts the defense. Also, Arizona’s leading rusher from 2014 — Nick Wilson — has been hurt the past few games as well. Jared Baker has done a good job filling his shoes but Wilson is a hard man to replace.
On a side note, Baker needs some more attention from Arizona fans. Since Wilson went down in the Oregon State game, Baker has rushed for 419 yards and five touchdowns.
The last issue for Arizona is its schedule. Arizona finishes the season against a revitalized USC team on the road, currently 13th-ranked Utah at home, and then finishes the season at ASU. Personally, I know Arizona can beat ASU. The Sun Devils don’t have much of an offense and Arizona doesn’t have much of a defense but with Scooby and Turituri potentially coming back, I think Arizona’s defense will get better once they see the field.
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, CA.