2012 Arizona Wildcats Football Preview
2011 Record: 4-8 (2-7 PAC-12)
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez, first season (120-84-2 overall)
Projected Returning Starters: 12
Spring Game: April 14th (Offense 78 Defense 0)
Notes: Let’s be honest, Arizona is a basketball school. Still, Athletic Director Greg Byrne is trying to change that image, especially with renovations taking place to Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats thought they found their coach in Mike Stoops, only to have the defense repeatedly be the Achilles heel, leading to Stoops dismissal. Stoops started the season 1-5, with the lone victory over Northern Arizona. The team went 3-3 under interim coach Tim Kish, before Rodriguez was hired as the replacement. Much of the past few years the media has covered Rodriguez, from the way he left West Virginia to his lack of success in Ann Arbor. Its fair to say Coach Rodriguez probably never had a fair opportunity to succeed in Ann Arbor. He will certainly get that opportunity in Tucson, where is exciting style of ball is sure to attract people to fill the stadium.
BVTSB Take: Arizona is going to be a fairly young team in 2012. They key positions will be quarterback, where the Wildcats lose record setter Nick Foles. They also will have to adjust to a new defensive scheme, as Jeff Casteel will employ a 3-3-5 look. Coach Rodriguez’s Michigan teams used the 3-3-5, unsuccessfully, but under defensive coordinators who weren’t familiar with the principles of the set. Casteel has been familiar with the defense, having served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach under Rodriguez previously. Expect Matt Scott to take over for the departed Foles. He will have the fourth leading receiver, Dan Buckner, as a target. Buckner averaged 14.4 yards per catch, with 42 catches. The top three receivers – Juron Criner, David Douglas, and Gino Crump – depart Tucson. Criner will be with the Oakland Raiders and Douglas with the New York Giants. Crump was offered a mini-camp tryout with the Buffalo Bills. Back up running back Ka’Deem Carey will have a shot at the starting role; he rushed for six touchdowns last season. Arizona relied heavily on the passing game last season, expect Rodriguez’s spread to greater integrate the run into the offense. Arizona faces a challenging non-conference schedule, hosting Toledo, Oklahoma State, and South Carolina State. The Wildcats face four PAC-12 North teams to open the conference slate, with away games against Oregon and Stanford, and home games against Oregon State and Washington. The Wildcats have five conference home games and four conference away games in 2012. Arizona could win as many as six of their eight home games, with Oklahoma State and USC presenting strong challenges. The road schedule is tough though. Arizona could improve from last year, if the defense picks up the principles of the 3-3-5, but will likely fall short of bowl eligibility.
2012 Early Projection: 5-7
To see the 2012 PAC-12 composite schedule, click here.
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