Where: Tucson, AZ
When: September 1 at 7:30pm Arizona time
Lines: Arizona -10 1/2, Over/Under 61
When Arizona hits the field on Saturday night against Toledo for the first game of the RichRod era, I don’t think anyone can say with a straight face that they truly know what to expect. Arizona’s starting quarterback Matt Scott has for most of his career been backup to Nick Foles, the best quarterback in Arizona history. Some say Matt Scott might be one of the most underlooked quarterbacks in the Pac-12 right now. Arizona’s best receiver, Dan Buckner, likewise fell second last year to Juron Criner, who is now looking to have a bright future with the Oakland Raiders. Starting runningback Ka’Deem Carey had limited touches last season as a freshmen, but big things are expected from him this year and onward. Under a brand new head coach, the offensive and defensive schemes are entirely different, the offense relying on a read-option and the defense relying on a 3-3-5.
Providing last year’s stats and returning starters as a measure for predicting the style and outcome of this Saturday’s game–or the rest of this season–is about as useful as giving steak to a vegetarian. Instead, I will provide five things to pay attention to this Saturday:
1. Arizona’s offensive Line
Baucus, Putton, Quinn, Biskin and Ebbele should all sound familiar, because they all started last year on the O line and could be the unsung core of Arizona’s offense this year. If these four have picked up RichRod’s offense early and are on the same page with blocking schemes, Ka’Deem Carey and Matt Scott could see daylight all night long against a Toledo defense that is not very good.
2. The entire Arizona defense
It is likely that this month’s open scrimmage revealed Arizona’s weakest link: the entire defensive squad. Arizona’s second team offense scored often and at will against its first team defense, who are paper thin in depth and trying to learn an entirely new system. One only hopes the defense worked out some kinks during its second closed scrimmage.
Used to seeing only three defensive linemen and five defensive backs? Didn’t think so. Watch for the “spur” and “bandit,” new defensive back positions in the 3-3-5 scheme.
3. Toldeo’s dual QBs
After last season, Toledo lost its head coach, best starting receiver and best starting runningback. One thing the Rockets were able to keep are Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens, quarterbacks who share equal time on the field (remember the Keith Smith and Ortege Jenkins years?). These guys throw the ball pretty well and completed about 68% of their passes last year. Granted they competed in the MAC conference, but if Arizona’s defense plays as poorly as it did in the scrimmage, we may see the scoreboard light up all night.
Or lack thereof. If you’ve been listening to RichRod, there shouldn’t be any huddles when Arizona’s offense hits the field. Move over and share some of your high speed pace, Oregon.
5. Pissing and moaning on the sideline like a four-year-old girl
Or lack thereof. Mike Stoops made it on national television consistently for acting like a jerk. Expect better manners from our new coach who hails from West Virginia and acts like he’s been here before.