A blowout victory on national TV, a bunch of positive press, and a shiny new top-25 ranking. It’s been a good week for the Arizona Wildcats. But how do they stack up against the rest of the Pac-10?
We’re going to do something different this year. With so many Pac teams arguing they can make a run at the conference crown we’re going to narrow down the list of contenders each week Survivor-style. Sometimes it’ll be a mathematical elimination and sometimes it’ll just be common sense saying a team is done.
I will also attempt to put the remaining contenders in order. This won’t be a power ranking that looks at what each team has accomplished. It’s going to be a forward-looking guess at the teams with the best chance of making it to Pasadena when you consider record, remaining schedule and, yes, talent.
Think of it like a driver’s starting position in NASCAR. The polesitter doesn’t always win the race but he’s got a head start. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.
4. Oregon State
7. Arizona State
The Ducks provided 72 reasons why they will be the favorite until they lose. Arizona, OSU and Stanford make up the next grouping due to having an extra home game among fellow contenders. The Beavers’ quarterback looked like a rookie against TCU so they get the four slot, and the Arizona/Stanford game is in Palo Alto so the Cardinal gets to carry the early runner-up banner.
As far as those voted off the island, USC was disqualified before the game even began. Wazzu fumbled away the first snap of the season against Oklahoma State and two plays later the Cougars established a deficit they would not overcome. Maybe next year.
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More thoughts from the Toldeo game…
One of the questions heading into the season was how the Wildcats’ offense would navigate the red zone. In the season opener the six red zone possessions looked like this:
–Antolin run, Douglas corner route
-Completion short of the goal line, incomplete Criner fade, QB keeper
-Two short passes, Grigsby in from the 1
-The INT off Tutogi’s hands
-Three short Scott completions including Antolin TD
-Taking a knee at the Toledo 5
That’s three of four under Foles and four of five when the Cats were trying, all with touchdowns. The early indication is the UA is going to use both the run and the pass instead of just trying to pound it in, with the hope of taking advantage of Foles’ ability to throw it into the corner as much as possible.
I was very happy to see Matt Scott get the opportunity to throw the ball in the 4th quarter instead of just running out the clock. For the record I’m in favor of considering redshirting Scott next year to start him as a senior in 2012. I don’t expect it to actually happen but I would give it a serious look.
Here’s the entire list of things that didn’t go well last Friday night:
–The run game
Take out Grigsby’s breakaway run and the top two backs only had 30 yards on 12 carries (2.5 yard average). Not what was expected with a senior-heavy offensive line.
Eight for 48 yards. That’s not a ton of yardage but it’s more than we’re used to seeing from the Cats, and Toledo’s only points came as a result of a yellow flag.
True freshman Chase Gorham was shaky all night and caused one failed PAT.
That’s it. You can write off the penalties and extra point woes to first-game jitters, so that leaves the rushing attack as the main point of emphasis over the next two weeks.
The name of the game against The Citadel (they get a capitalized definite article like The Situation) is precision. Know what you want to accomplish, be where you’re supposed to be, execute the plays, and move on to Iowa.
Most importantly, this weekend is the first of three straight Saturdays with a home game, then there’s a bye week, and then another home game. I hope you’ve got your tailgating game face on.