Arizona Wildcats

Arizona Spring Football Game Editorial

Photo by 520 Sports Talk Anne Bowers

(Tucson, AZ)  After the dismal season last year of what took place or didn’t take place on the field, hope always abounds the following year.

Last Season when Head Coach Kevin Sumlin took over a program in disarray, not much was expected in the way of change considering he didn’t have any of his own players. He was implementing a brand new offensive system while retaining the same Defensive Coordinator Marcel Yates who has had his problems stopping opponent’s offenses.

At times in 2018, the Wildcats looked promising, at other times very lackluster. As most football experts realize, it normally takes 3-4 years to get your own players and system in place where the system become second nature.

2019 still has a lot of Rich Rodriguez players on the team. Adaptability is the key in a coaching change. Some will be able to make the change and some will not.

In today’s Spring Game as usual, the defense was ahead of the offense at this point and that’s to be expected. Sumlin played a lot of the younger players to see what he had in a bigger setting than a normal scrimmage.

The big standout from my view was freshman sensation Grant Gunnell from The Woodlands, Texas. His 6’ 5” and 225 lb frame was ready to go. His arm strength and passes leading the receivers in stride, he is definitely the future of Arizona Football.

Another freshman, Kevin Doyle out of Washington D.C. had some very good snaps and showed he also is a talented quarterback.

Returning starting signal caller Khalil Tate only played in two series, so it’s anyone’s guess which Tate we’ll see this season; the explosive runner – passer from 2017, or the inconsistent quarterback of 2018?

With Sumlin and his staff, you can already see the wheels in motion with bigger offensive and defensive players coming into the program.

In my opinion, the days of the “smurf” sized football players at Arizona will be a thing of the past. Kids from Texas know how football  is played and you’re not going to win a conference championship with undersized players when the USC’s, Washington’s and Stanford’s have a ton of beef and talent.

The reason this team was always short handed in past seasons was because of injuries due to the lack of size and getting crushed by much larger opponents. The tide seems to be turning.

According to Athletic Director Dave Heeke, “its no secret that the next big project will be to completely tear down the West Side of Arizona Stadium and create a new experience.” Upgraded premium seating as in the north end zone of the Lowell – Stevens complex and upgrades under the stadium such as amenities and concessions.  Plans and costs are being looked at as well as other options to enhance the west side.

The 2019 Football Schedule

At Hawaii – The Cats should open with a win, but there are a lot of distractions when you visit the islands.  1-0

Northern Arizona – This in state rivalry is always fun and Arizona should win by at least two touchdowns. 2-0

Texas Tech – Even though TTU is coming off  a less than stellar year, the Cats have had their problems with the Red Raiders in the past. Tech by seven points. 2-1

UCLA – both teams struggled last year and Head Coach Chip Kelly is in the same situation as Sumlin. Toss up game, but the edge to UCLA. 2-2

At Colorado – New Head Coach Mel Tucker will have a 5-7 team from last year in a new system. Playing Colorado early will be advantageous for the Cats. Arizona get its first road win. 3-2

Washington – The Dawgs learned a hard lesson last year coming to the desert and getting beat by ASU in a game they should have won. No repeat here. Washington wins big and looks to defend its PAC-12 Title. 3-3

Southern California – It’s been a decade since the Cats have beaten USC. History shows Arizona playing tough for three quarters but eventually succumbing to the more talented Trojans. 3-4

At Stanford – This may be the game that the U of A can steal. Stanford lost a lot on offense. They have a tough schedule to begin the season with Northwestern, USC, Oregon, Washington and UCLA before they meet Arizona. It’s be interesting to see how banged up they may be. 4-4

Oregon State – Cats win big and get some much needed momentum going. 5-4

At Oregon – Tough place to play and depending on the weather, could be close or a blowout. 5-5

Utah – Wildcats lose in Salt Lake City and are  5-6

At Arizona State – Zona hasn’t had the best of luck against the Devils as of late, losing games they should have won. I think the home team wins  and the Cats are shut out of a bowl game for the second consecutive year, 5-7.

Obviously, it’s hard to predict how the season will go, but Arizona should be slightly improved but will have to wait for the following year to make their mark when more Sumlin players having key roles on both sides of the ball.

The PAC-12 was very weak top to bottom last season. I think every team should be improved and the conference will be better in the post season.

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