Arizona Football Fans: What You Should Expect in 2014?


Seven more days. That is all that stands between the fans and Arizona football being back when the WIldcats welcome the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels to Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats are coming off a second consecutive 8-5 season and bowl win, but what should the Wildcat fans expect in 2014?

There are a few key questions that need to be answered in order for the Wildcats to have a successful season.

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1. How will Arizona replace Ka’Deem Carey’s production?

How do you replace a two time consensus All-American, the 2013 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, the 2012 top rusher in the nation and the guy who had the third most rushing yards in the nation in 2013? You don’t. At least not with one player, and in the Wildcats case, the same position group.

Arizona will use a running back by committee to start the season and will use all four backs in the game against UNLV. Terris Jones-Grigsby, Jared Baker, Johnathan Haden, and Nick Wilson are the four backs who will try and fill in Carey’s shoes. However, the running back position will not be the way the Wildcats replace all the production.

The quartet at wide receiver of Austin Hill, Texas transfer Cayleb Jones, and Notre Dame transfer Davonte’ Neal, as well as 2013 leading receiver Nate Phillips will be the reason Arizona will be able to produce even better total offense numbers in 2014. This is the deepest receiving corp in the conference and as long as Arizona can find a QB to throw them the ball they should be fine.

Which leads us to the next question.

2. Who is going to play QB?

What was originally a four man competition seems to be down to three players vying for the starting job, with two quarterbacks in particular getting heavy consideration. The two favorites right now seem to be redshirt freshman Anu Solomon and redshirt senior Jesse Scroggins.  Also in on the race, but seems to be falling, is redshirt junior Jerrard Randall.

Solomon is a smart player who has a good pre-snap vision and grasps the game well. He sees the field well and is a good enough athlete to extend the play when needed. He does not have breakaway speed, but he isn’t stuck to the ground and can move around if needed.

Scroggins, the former USC Trojan, is a good athlete with an even better arm and is starting to play his best football when it matters. He struggled in spring ball, but as fall camp is progressing Scroggins has really started to step up and is showing that he is capable of being the starter come August 29th.

Randall, the former LSU Tiger, is a confident player who has the speed and athleticism to really shine in the Rich Rodriguez offense. However, he just can’t seem to grasp the playbook and it is really holding him back in this competition.

Rich Rod has yet to reveal his hand in this competition, but I expect him to announce the starter this weekend and I expect it to be Anu Solomon. No matter who the opening game starter the job is not safe and each QB will still have to perform at their highest levels.

Rodriguez will always be able to score, but a huge concern, as it is every year is..

3. Does Arizona finally have a defense that can stop someone? 

Nov 23, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats linebacker Scooby Wright (left) intercepts the ball against Oregon Ducks wide receiver Bralon Addison in the first quarter at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The short answer is yes. Arizona has one of the best secondaries in the league and the linebackers, led by sophomore Scooby Wright, is a solid group. If the defensive line is able to apply pressure and get to the QB this defense could be scary. Regardless, this is the best defense of the Rich Rod era. Jared Tevis, Johnathan McKnight, and Jarvis McCall will lead the secondary that should be able to compete with all of these Pac-12 high powered offenses. Look for an impressive defense in Tucson this season.

So what is the best case scenario and what is the worse case scenario in 2014? Worse case scenario is that the QB position never gets figured out and the Wildcat offense struggles. If that happens the Wildcats could win as little as six games. Best case scenario is that the QB excels and the defense finally does stop someone and it all comes together in the 2014. With the Wildcats getting Arizona St., USC, and Washington at home they could potentially finish with a 9-3 regular season record and challenge UCLA for the top spot in the Pac-12 South.

It should be an exciting 2014 season around the nation and it will be no different in Tucson. Seven more days Arizona football fans.