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Author Topic: The Wildcats rank #66 in Athlon's Top 130 in 2017-Anthlon AZ Football preview &  (Read 270 times)

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Offline WILDcatAZfan

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By Athlon Sports, 6/10/17, 10:00 AM EDT

The Wildcats rank No. 66 in Athlon's Top 130 for 2017 & Brandon Dawkins ranked #53 QB overall(See End of article for more on Dawkins)

After four straight winning seasons under Rich Rodriguez, Arizona cratered in 2016, going 3-9 overall and winning just one game in Pac-12 play. The Wildcats couldn’t score (24.8 ppg, 100th in the FBS) and couldn’t stop opponents from scoring either (38.3 ppg, 118th). Not surprisingly, the defensive coaching staff was revamped but that won’t change the talent and depth issues on that side of the ball. The offense isn’t without questions either so it could be another difficult season for Rodriguez and company.
 
Previewing Arizona Football’s Offense for 2017 
 
The Wildcats were last in the Pac-12 in scoring last year, and that ineptitude has to change for Arizona to improve a 1–8 conference record. Quarterbacks Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate ended spring practice in a too-close-to-call battle. Dawkins is an explosive runner but an erratic passer. Unfortunately for Arizona, Tate has similar tendencies. Dawkins rushed for 183 yards in a victory over Arizona State but completed only three passes in that game. He has also been sidelined by injuries three times in two seasons.
 
Sophomore tailback J.J. Taylor might be the club’s top player. He missed eight games with a broken ankle last year but left an impression that he could be a game-changer. He’ll likely share time with senior Nick Wilson, who gained 1,375 yards in 2014 but has since been limited by injuries. Freshman Nathan Tilford, who was impressive in spring camp, makes running back the team’s deepest position.
 
The Wildcats are thin at receiver. The only returning receiver to contribute significantly is diminutive Shun Brown, a 5'8", 175-pound junior. Behind him, things are troublesome.
 
Tackles Layth Friekh and Michael Eletise, guards Jacob Alsadek and Gerhard de Beer and center Nathan Eldridge have the size and experience to maintain Arizona’s running game productivity; the Wildcats led the Pac-12 in rushing with 235.0 yards per game a year ago. This year, however, coach Rich Rodriguez is seeking more balance, which means Dawkins and Tate must complete far more than last year’s combined rate of 55.1 percent of their passes.
 
After struggling in the secondary for two years, the Wildcats have finally established depth and production in the back end. Starting cornerbacks Jace Whittaker and Dane Cruikshank are now battle-tested. Safeties Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and Isaiah Hayes are considered strengths. If Arizona uses five deep backs, sophomore Tristan Cooper has significant experience.
 
Arizona’s recruiting failures of the last five years show up most clearly on the defensive line. The Wildcats still don’t have enough size to hold up against quality offenses. Sophomore end Justin Belknap and senior tackle Parker Zellers, both 247 pounds, have been full-time starters even though they are under-sized. Defensive line coach Vince Amey is hopeful that junior Larry Tharpe Jr., who is 6'5", 275 pounds, will be ready for full-time work. Sione Taufahema, a 310-pound junior college transfer, will be given a shot to play regularly on the interior line. Depth is a problem, as is putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
 
At times during spring drills, it appeared that three freshmen — Jacob Colacion, Jose Ramirez and Tony Fields II — were probable starters at linebacker. They would join oft-injured DeAndre’ Miller.
 
Previewing Arizona Football’s Specialists for 2017 
 
Junior Josh Pollack was both punter and placekicker last year and was merely adequate. He’ll be challenged by incoming freshman placekicker Lucas Havrisik. Veterans Jake Glatting and Matt Aragon are pushing for time at punter. The return game has not been productive of late.
 
Final Analysis 
 

Arizona allowed 44.8 points per game in its eight Pac-12 losses. Improving the defense is the top priority. Rich Rodriguez hired two new defensive coaches, but the defensive line remains under-sized, and the linebacking group is freshman-laden. Almost as worrisome, Arizona averaged only 22.6 points in Pac-12 games.
 
Rodriguez’s contract buyout would be $5.1 million if new athletic director Dave Heeke made a change. This roster is not built to shine in 2017, but, if all goes well, 2018 could be promising. Sweeping the three non-conference games against NAU, Houston and UTEP seems imperative for Arizona to have a winning season.

Arizona Wildcats Football
National Ranking: 66
Pac-12 South Prediction: 6


College Football's 1-130 Starting Quarterback Rankings for 2017

53. Brandon Dawkins, Arizona
As evidenced by his team-leading 944 rushing yards last season, Dawkins is a dynamic athlete with plenty of room to improve as a passer. Dawkins threw for 1,345 yards and eight scores while completing 53.6 percent of his passes last year.



Offline V-Max

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Was watching some of the Desert Swarm vids from days gone by and realized Coach Tomey build that team with OKG's and ASU rejects.  Chuck Cecil, Chris McCalister, Tedy Bruschi, Rob Waldrop... to name a few.

I hope this year is a little better defensively.  Offensively, just got to stay healthy. Arizona is in a 100% rebuilding mode, don't expect a whole lot this year but, should start to see some improvement next year. There is the chance that we are a little better this year and I hope that it pans out that way.  Good Luck to RichRod and the entire team.  Bear Down
“When you’re riding, only the race in which you’re riding is important.”
– Bill Shoemaker

Offline Little George

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We have picked up a top rated kicker, a high rated punter, and a new experienced ST Coach in coach Knorr.
We have picked up a very good LBs coach, and Yates is back where he fits better with DBs/CBs.
The OL is going to be solid. The RBs will be very good. The WRs will be better than many expect. The QBs are actually healthy right now.

The fall out last year.
1. Losing our team mate and starting C 2 weeks before the opener. The line could not protect our QBs. Injuries piled up from there. (Solid and experienced OL and RBs actually healthy should protect the QB, giving time to actually throw the ball before being hit)
2. D was on the field way too long which wore them down half way through the game. When you are thin already, rest is critical. (New LBs coach and Yates moving to natural position.)
3. ST put us in terrible positions on both sides of the ball all year long. (We have addressed that with a kicker, a punter, and a dedicated ST coach.)

Offline thomallet

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Maybe I have been drinking the cool-aid because I am actually a little excited about the upcoming season. I watched some previews and they don't even mention the loss of our projected starting C last year. They talk about no depth, but not the fact that we lost player after player to injury and at one point had a former JC guy that is playing TE lined up at QB. Like they did not actually go any further than to look at last years results and say that Arizona sucks. At least at this point I have hopes of a good season and the potential of going bowling!

 


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