2009 CFN Arizona Preview
Arizona P Keenyn Crier
CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Arizona Wildcats
2009 CFN Arizona Preview |
2008 Arizona Preview |
2007 Arizona Preview |
Interested in blogging
about Arizona football?
hardest part is over. Now, Arizona and head coach Mike Stoops can go
about the business of becoming more competitive in the Pac-10.
Head coach: Mike Stoops
6th year: 25-34
Off. 24, Def. 24, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 13
Best Wildcat Players
1. TE Rob Gronkowski, Jr.
2. CB Devin
3. RB Nic Grigsby, Jr.
4. DE Brooks Reed, Jr.
5. DT Earl Mitchell, Sr.
6. WR Delashaun Dean, Jr.
7. P Keenyn Crier, Jr.
8. OL Colin Baxter, Jr.
Keola Antolin, Soph.
10. FS Cam Nelson, Sr.
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2009 Record: 0-0
9/12 Northern Arizona
9/19 at Iowa
9/26 at Oregon State
10/3 OPEN DATE
10/10 at Washington
10/31 OPEN DATE
11/7 Washington State
11/14 at California
11/28 at Arizona State
12/5 at USC
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2008 Record: 8-5
Idaho W 70-0
at N Mexico L
Sept. 20 at UCLA W 31-10
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Washington W 48-14
Oct. 11 at Stanford L 24-23
USC L 17-10
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 at Wash State W 59-28
Nov. 15 at Oregon L 55-45
Oregon State L
Nov. 29 OPEN DATE
Dec. 6 Arizona State W 31-10
Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 20 BYU W 31-21
The Wildcats simply
qualify for a bowl game in 2008 after missing the postseason every year
this century. The coach had to have last year’s Las Vegas Bowl in order
to remain employed. The players needed it to build some confidence and
momentum. Fans of the school just wanted something to finally feel good
about. Beating a ranked BYU team last Dec. 20 might not seem like much
to some schools, but it was a pivotal moment in the modern history of
this program. Now what?
The sense of urgency that permeated throughout Tucson a year ago has
been replaced by a sense of excitement. That’ll happen when you taste a
winning season for the first time in a decade. Stoops can breathe a
little easier this season, and do what he does best—develop players. The
talent pool on both sides of the ball is deeper than it’s been in a
while, thanks to some really good recruiting, so there’ll be no excuses
for not playing another December bonus game. Sure, a four-year starting
quarterback has departed, but rest assured that the ‘Cats are ready for
life after Willie Tuitama.
Arizona broke ground with last year’s return to the bowl season. Now,
it’s time to start building again in the desert.
What to watch for on offense:
More from the running game. Instead of becoming a three-ring circus,
which most expected when Sonny Dykes came on board in 2007, the Wildcats
have been surprisingly balanced on offense. And it’s going to continue.
Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin offer an exciting one-two punch out of the
backfield. The offensive line has traded finesse for ferocity,
attracting a slew of 330-pounders capable of manhandling opposing
linemen. Heck, if mobile Matt Scott winds up winning the quarterback
derby with Nick Foles, don’t be surprised if a little read-option
doesn’t make its way into the playbook. Obviously, Arizona won’t abandon
the passing attack, but with so much talent in the running game, why not
What to watch for on defense:
Tons of speed. Yeah, they’re all football players, but it’s the
athletes that make this Wildcat defense so difficult to navigate.
They swarm tackle like it’s the good old days in Tucson, bringing
pressure, taking good angles, and rarely allowing the opposition to
break free into space. The linemen, even the 295-pound tackles, are
explosive. The linebackers move laterally like defensive backs. And the
defensive backs are suffocating. With veterans back at every level,
Arizona just might be tough enough this fall to challenge USC as the
Pac-10’s premier defensive unit.
The team will be far better if…
it improves in tight games. When the outcome was decided by 10 points or
less in 2008, the Wildcats were just 1-5, including painful losses to
Stanford, USC, and Oregon State. The players and the coaching staff
still aren’t used to winning, having just broken a string of nine
straight years without a winning season. It takes time to develop that
attitude or swagger at the end of close games, something Arizona
witnessed up close a year ago.
The non-conference schedule builds to a big day at Iowa
that could set the tone for the season, but the opener against
Dan LeFevour and Central Michigan will be tricky. The trip to
Iowa City begins a run of three straight road games with the first two
Pac 10 games at Oregon State and Washington, but at least there's a week
off between the two conference games. While there's a nice three game
home stretch against Stanford, UCLA and Washington State, three teams
that didn't go bowling last year, the payback comes in the end with
three road games in the final four against most of the big boys. Closing
out at Cal, Oregon, at Arizona State and at USC means the first half of
the season has to be strong.
Best offensive player:
Junior TE Rob Gronkowski. With a blend of imposing strength and
seam-busting speed, Gronkowski is an NFL-ready tight end playing in the
Pac-10. At 6-6 and 265 pounds, he looks like a tackle, yet is the most
dangerous player on the field, especially when the Wildcats need a first
down or a touchdown. In his first two years out of high school, he
already has 16 touchdown receptions, raising the likelihood he won’t be
an amateur beyond the upcoming season.
Best defensive player: Senior
CB Devin Ross. The fact that the Wildcat pass defense flourished the
year after Antoine Cason and Wilrey Fontenot were drafted by the NFL is
all you need to know about Ross. He stepped into the lineup and shut
down all comers in an All-Pac-10 debut as a starter. He’ll be even
tougher to beat this fall, as he makes his case for joining Cason and
Fontenot at the next level in 2010.
Key player to a successful season:
Sophomore quarterbacks Matt Scott and Nick Foles. Whoever wins this
offseason battle is going to have sizable shoes to fill. No, neither has
to be Willie Tuitama right out
of the chute, but he does have to help keep the offense cranking by
getting the ball to the playmakers and keeping drives going on third
down. The quarterback situation will be just fine in Tucson, but does
that mean 2009 or 2010?
The season will be a success if
... the Wildcats bowl for a second straight season. Hey, let’s not get
greedy, folks. It was just last year that Arizona was pining to end its
decade-long postseason drought. Before labeling this program a sleeper
out of the Pac-10, take a gander at the road schedule, which includes
trips to Iowa, Oregon State, Cal, Arizona State, and USC. If the ‘Cats
can keep the momentum going with another eight-win season, write it down
as a solid year.
Key game: Sept. 26 at Oregon
State. Losers of nine of the last 10 in this series, the Wildcats
desperately need to break through against the Beavers. Doing it in
Corvallis will not be easy. The first Pac-10 game of the season has a
way of setting the tone for the rest of the year, so this trip could
dictate how seriously and howl long the program contends for a
2008 Fun Stats:
- Second half scoring: Arizona
235 - Opponents 111
- Penalties: Opponents 88 for 679 yards - Arizona
53 for 457 yards
- Punt return average: Arizona 17.8 - Opponents 10.6
2009 CFN Arizona Preview |
2008 Arizona Preview |
2007 Arizona Preview |