Monday, July 21, 2008

I need socks cause we're going BOWL-ing

Of all the writers here at TheBearDown I am the eternal optimist. I believe that this is the year my team is going to do great things at the beginning of every season. However, I want you the loyal reader to know that I am putting my LOVE for the Wildcats away for this article, I will not be a homer, this will be un-biased and fact based.....Yea Right...Bear Down

Here is Part 1 of my game by game break down...

Aug. 30 Idaho - Seriously, I almost don't feel the need to tell you what will happen here. This won't even be close. The only redeeming quality the Idaho football team has is that their name is the Vandals, and that's cool in a James Dean rebel kind of way. These guys stink, they are the worst team in the WAC by far and really have very few bright spots. They can however look towards improving, because they couldn't be any worse, Idaho finished 118th in the nation (only FIU was worse) in passing efficiency. The Vandal quarterbacks combined to complete just 45 percent of their throws with 14 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions. Nate Ness, Devin Ross and maybe even a little Robert Golden should feast on this.

Arizona 56, Idaho 12

Sep. 6 Toledo - This is another game that shouldn't need much explanation. The one thing that I like about this game is that we should see the offensive fireworks on display. Last year Toledo didn't play much defense, they gave up 34 points or more in 10 of their 12 games, and had the MAC's worst run defense. They were especially bad on third downs allowing teams to convert 44.5 percent of their chances. This game should go a long way towards Willy winning PAC-10 Offensive POY honors.

Arizona 49, Toledo 28

Sep. 13 at New Mexico - Despite the fact that most of you know little about this team, New Mexico is a decent ball club that won a bowl game last year. The most intriguing part of this game is that it will pit strength against strenth. New Mexico's secondary should be among the best in the country. Corner back's DeAndre Wright and Glover Quinn are special, and safeties Ian Clark, Blake Ligon and Clint McPeek are all solid veterans. The pass defense was 20th in the nation last year and now it should be even better. Few will be able to consistently throw on this group. The upside here is that New Mexico's team will be young this year losing 15 starters and 22 key Letterman. Last years game featured a receiving core that picked apart our defense, After losing the tremendous receiving tandem of Travis Brown and Marcus Smith, the Lobos need several new receivers to step up and shine and the 3rd game of the season seems a little early for them to be in sync.

Arizona 35, New Mexico 21

Sep. 20 at UCLA - This game may stand as a litmus test of sorts for us. UCLA is supposed to make a dramatic turn around now that they have the wonder duo, super rock star, coaching tandem of Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow steering their ship. I have to laugh to myself a bit when I hear the pundits hooting and hollering that UCLA will be the surprise of the PAC-10 this year. They are weak in all the wrong areas for this league and it's gonna show. The weak link of the UCLA defense, the secondary is flush with question marks and uncertainty with depth the biggest concern. Now that three starters must be replaced and the newcomers are questionable, it could be a very long season for the Bruin pass defense. I believe Willy, Money Mike and RobG will torch this weak unit and make their offense keep pace if it wants to stay in the game. On Offense UCLA's biggest concern is the O-Line, the strength of the unit will be at the Tackle position with Micah Kia and Sean Sheller who have good athletic ability if nothing else. The guards have limited or no experience, the center used to be a guard and the reserves will offer little support in the short-term. There are no sure things on this unit, bad news in a conference flush with quality defensive linemen. While our front 7 is not great it is at least serviceable and should make UCLA struggle most of the day. Among all of those questions one of the most glaring is the fact that the QBs are up in the air. Cowan took over as QB1 before his injury (out all season) so last year's on again off again oft-injured starter Olson is the QB1 again for the time being and JuCo transfer Kevin Craft is rumored to be ready to step in. Seeing as how last year's starter for the UCLA bowl game (McLeod Bethel-Thompson) is now leading the Sacramento State Hornets I gotta think, is Olson really the best bet in Pasadena?

Arizona 42, UCLA 28

Oct. 4 Washington - The next stop on the Tyronne Willingham farewell tour....Seriously though, I think that U-Dub has the potential to be a very good year..The question is will Coach Willingham be around to see it? Jake Locker was last years PAC-10 Freshman of the Year and was 14 yards shy of becoming the leagues first QB to rush for 1000 yds. That statistic is a bit deceiving however as he spent a lot of his time running because of lackluster pass protection. The bright spot of the O-line, and maybe the whole team last season, was All Pac-10 C Juan Garcia, who was injured in spring ball and will miss a significant portion of this years season. The key for the Cats defensively in this game will be the Linebackers keeping Locker home and not allowing him to extend drives with his legs. On Defense the Huskies are looking at bunch of new starters on a defense that finished last in the Pac-10 and 104th nationally in pass defense. The biggest need area is along the defensive line that loses three starters from last years abysmal team and is now left with several undersized guys to try and provide a pass rush and stop the run. I have a feeling the Mr. Grigsby will run all over this team behind our veteran O-Line and Willy will torch this subpar secondary all day.

Arizona 38, Washington 17

Oct. 11 at Stanford - Let me start by saying that last years loss to Stanford has cost me several nights sleep thinking about what could have been...It is crazy to me that these nerds beat us and Cal and USC but only won one other game. This years Stanford team will be just as unpredictable as last years. On Offense they have serious O-Line issues, two starters are gone from a unit that paved the way for the nation's 102nd-ranked running game and was 116th in sacks allowed to add to the mess Allen Smith, the Cardinal's best tackle, fractured his kneecap working out in February and could miss the entire season but in true bi-polar fashion last years starting LG Alex Fletcher, a member of the All-Pac-10 Second Team, put off the NFL to return for his senior season. He had now moved to Center, where he started his career, to lead this much maligned unit. There is no certainty that incumbent QB Tavita Pritchard, the hero of the USC game, will be the starter this year. He played horrible in all of the last 7 games last year and must face Justin Forcier, a former Michigan QB, for the starting job in camp. Again it is a case of the Wilcats weaknesses being overshadowed by the opponents. Our Defense will not be over matched by this team in any phase of the game. The real challenge in this game will be scoring points. Stanford has an exceptional Defense that last year finished 11th in the nation in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss. They are returning every key starter and are two deep at almost every position. The only area of doubt is the depth of the D-line. We would have to have developed a very punishing running game for this to be an issue though. In the end I think we win a close one on the strength of Jason Bondzio and Keenyen Criers legs.

Arizona 17, Stanford 13

That's right folks, I believe that the Loco Gatos will be 6-0 heading into the second half of the season. People will be fighting for tickets, sports writers will be singing our praises and our team will start appearing on lists that start with 1 and end with 25. Most importantly we will start to catch the strangest odor in the air, one that Tucson hasn't had reason to smell in ten long years...Roses

Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion....


Anonymous said...

Keep dreaming buddy, the athletics at U of A are terrible and only getting worse. I read how many prospects are now going to Arizona St instead. As long as Stoops is leading the way you guys are going nowhere. Its a shame that we will never see the true talent of Tuitama because he chose the wrong school to play at. He would have been great at USC. Better luck next time. Go trojans!!

Anonymous said...

I guess thats all you guys have left in Tucson is wishful thinking.

AZSTdevils said...

Ha!! Sorry I just had to laugh