This week, we are seeing a matchup that many had circled before the season as one that could be a determining factor of who was to rise in the PAC 12.
However due to massive injuries suffered by the Wildcats, Arizona comes to the Farm on Saturday night a much different team than what Head Coach Rich Rodriguez had envisioned.
We were able to catch up this week with David Potts of the AZ Desert Swarm to learn more about the Wildcats and how he sees the matchup between the Cardinal and Wildcats to play out Saturday evening.
Here was the Q & A
The loss of Scooby Wright has got to set the Wildcats back a bit. What do you see Head Coach Rich Rodriguez looking to do to stop Stanford and their rush attack?
Man, I wish I knew. Arizona's run defense has been gashed all year. Part of it is the Scooby Wright injury, to be sure, but even beyond him, Arizona's linebacking corps has been devastated by injuries. Walk-on freshman Tre Tyler has started (!!!) games at linebacker. There just isn't going to be much Arizona can do to stop Stanford's rushing attack other than maybe bring more guys into the box. The 3-3-5 doesn't hold up that well to power rushing attacks anyway, and with the injuries to Arizona's linebackers this season, I'm not confident in Arizona's ability to stop Stanford's rushing attack.
2. If Anu Solomon is not able to go on Saturday, will there be more of an emphasis placed on the run with Senior Jerrard Randall under center?
Definitely. Jerrard Randall is a great runner, but he is not a very good passer. Randall only throws fastballs, really, and the receivers have a hard time catching his passes. As a result, I expect to see Randall, Nick Wilson, and Jared Baker run the ball very, very often in this game.
3. Even with all of the major injuries, the Wildcats still have several talented skill players. Who do you see stepping up the most in the coming weeks?
Nick Wilson. With the Anu Solomon injury, Arizona is going to have to rely heavily on the running game, and Nick Wilson is the guy there. Even in the UCLA game - a blowout, to be sure - Nick Wilson was very productive, rushing for 136 yards on 24 carries. Rich Rodriguez isn't afraid to give running backs a ton of carries (Ka'Deem Carey had 48 in the upset win against Oregon two years ago), and I expect to see Nick Wilson take advantage of those extra opportunities.
4. Where do you feel that the Wildcats have been most successful this season, and where do they need the most improvement?
The running game has been where Arizona has found the most success this season. Even with the turmoil around him, Nick Wilson still keeps running. On the year, he has racked up 570 yards on the ground, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. At the same time, Jerrard Randall has racked up multiple gigantic touchdown runs despite seeing limited action. The running game has been a bright spot in a somewhat disappointing season.
Arizona's front six on defense needs the most improvement. The defensive line and linebackers have just not been able to get to the passer and they haven't been able to stop the run. UCLA's running backs ran all over Arizona, and notwithstanding its win against NAU, Arizona hasn't been able to effectively rush the passer, either. The defense - and particularly the front six - has been the most disappointing part of Arizona's play thus far this season.
5. Many in the College Football world saw the Wildcats as a major contender for the PAC 12 title in the preseason. With the recent rash of injuries, do you still feel that the Wildcats could contend for the crown in the PAC 12 South?
No. Even without the injuries to Scooby Wright and Anu Solomon, I'm not sure Arizona would be able to compete with USC, UCLA, or Utah, and with those injuries, I think it's very unlikely that Arizona will contend for the Pac-12 South title. At this point, my primary concern is whether Arizona will be able to find three wins in its schedule and at least secure a bowl berth. I think they'll be able to do so (and probably pretty safely), but it's more likely that Arizona fails to make a bowl game than that Arizona wins the Pac-12 South at this point.