Depth Chart |
has taken two years, but the program finally appears ready to rock
again now that head coach Mike Stoops has his players in place.
Youth and inconsistency were the big problems in Stoops' first
two seasons, but there was no question the speed and athleticism
were upgraded in a big way. Unfortunately, the potential hasn't
translated into wins with only four against D-I teams so far. That
should change in a big way this season with the excitement coming
from one player: quarterback Willie Tuitama.
A big recruit for the program last year, Tuitama has brought the
expectations up to another level just off a few nice performances
over the second half of last season. He made plenty of freshman
mistakes, and will make plenty as a true sophomore, but he's the
type of talent who the program can build around and finally be able
to hang punch-for-punch with the rest of the high-octane Pac 10
after averaging a not-getting-the-job-done 18.7 points per game over
the last four seasons.
Head coach: Mike Stoops
3rd year: 6-16
Off. 22, Def. 19, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Best Wildcat Players
1. CB Antoine Cason, Jr.
2. WR Mike Thomas, Soph.
3. QB Willie Tuitama, Soph.
4. SS Michael Johnson, Sr.
5. LB Spencer Larsen, Jr.
6. LB Dane Krogstad, Jr.
7. OT Peter Graniello, Jr.
8. WR/KR Syndric Steptoe, Sr.
9. CB Wilrey Fontenot, Jr.
10. DE Marcus Smith, Sr.
Stephen F. Austin
at Washington St
2005 Record: 3-8
2005 predicted wins
at Utah L 27-24
Purdue L 31-24
at California L 28-0
at USC L 42-21
at Oregon St W 29-27
UCLA W 52-14
at Arizona State L 23-20
The tackles are there to give Tuitama time to work, the
receiving corps is in place with Mike Thomas, Anthony Johnson, and
Syndric Steptoe all fast enough to make big plays, the outlet receivers
are there with three good tight ends and an emerging safety valve in
fullback Brandon Lopez, and the running game should be more explosive
with three lightning-fast prospects. In other words, all the pieces are
in place to let the young star shine.
The defense should finally be up-to-snuff with ten starters
returning led by a linebacking corps that's finally healthy and should
be a rock as the year goes on, and a secondary that boasts All-Pac 10
caliber talents Antoine Cason, Michael Johnson and Wilrey Fontenot. The
line is bigger and better now that end Marcus Smith is back after
missing almost all of last year, and there's more depth everywhere than
the program has had in years. If that wasn't enough, the special teams
should be among the best in the nation.
Yes, Stoops has his the horses he needs to succeed with. Now we'll get
to see if he can actually coach. It has been seven years since the 12-1
season and the last bowl game, but the slide appears ready to come to a
halt. For long-suffering Wildcat fans, they're ready.
The Schedule: There aren't too many
tougher September games than at LSU and USC to go along with the opener
against a good BYU, but things ease up a bit with the easiest part of
the Pac 10 schedule coming in October and early November before playing
Cal, at Oregon, and Arizona State. To come up with a winning season, the
Wildcats likely have to win two of three road games at UCLA, Stanford
and Washington State.
Offensive Player: Sophomore WR Mike Thomas. Tuitama is the star of
the show and the one who needs to rock and roll to get Arizona back
to a bowl level, but Thomas is the best player on the offense ... at
least for now. Even though he's not all that big at 5-8 and 178
pounds, he's tough and is too quick to contain with just one
defender. He's the type of receiver who has to be game-planned
Defensive Player: Junior CB Antoine Cason. He's in a salary drive
this season with the look of a first day draft pick. He hits like a
safety and covers as well as any corner in the Pac 10. With good
size at 6-0 and 182 pounds and impressive speed, he has all the
player to a successful season: Junior RB Chris Henry. Assuming
Tuitama is the real deal and will overcome his mistakes with moments
of brilliance, Arizona needs more of a running game to balance
things out. Henry is a flash of lightning who'll get help from
redshirt freshmen Terry Longbons and Xavier Smith looking for more
production than the 122 yards per game from last year.
season will be a success if ... Arizona gets to a bowl game.
While there's a ton of experience, next year will be when the
Wildcats can reasonably shoot for the Pac 10 title. Considering how
hard it has been for the program to win over the last several years,
coming up with six-plus wins and getting to a bowl game would be a
tremendous step in the Stoops era.
game: Oct. 7 at UCLA. This will be a circle game for the Bruins
after the 52-14 atomic wedgie applies by the Wildcats last season,
but it's a very winnable road game. Arizona can't assume any Pac 10
wins, but after the conference opener against USC, four of the next
five games are against teams that didn't go to a bowl game. A win
over UCLA could start a solid run.
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 66 - Arizona 23
- Turnovers: Arizona 28 - Opponents 19
- Tackles for loss: Opponents 82 - Arizona
…played in a bowl game…1998 (Holiday Bowl vs. Nebraska)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1996 (Illinois)
…was shutout…2005 (Cal)
…scored 50 points…2005 (UCLA)
…won a conference title…1993 (share, Pac-10)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2002 (Jason Johnson)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2001 (Clarence Farmer)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2002 (Bobby Wade)
…had a first-round draft choice…2000 (RB Trung Canidate)