For the second straight year, the Arizona Wildcats are one of the teams that Cal misses on the Pac-12 conference schedule. In past years (read: 2010, 2006) that might have been a blessing. But this year? The conventional wisdom would suggest that Cal catches a bad break in missing Arizona this year. The Wildcats are in their first season under erstwhile Michigan and West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez. On top of that, the Wildcats lose mainstays on offense like quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Juron Criner. So this year's Arizona football team has the feel of being built from scratch.
So will the 'Cats be bad this season? Maybe. But it really doesn't matter to Cal, as the Bears won't get a chance to play them. On the bright side, this also means there is no chance that Cal will suffer an embarrassing upset defeat to Arizona. #glasshalffull
Even though Cal and Arizona don't play each other, the CGB roundtablers are a full service bunch. Here are their thoughts on the Fighting Rich Rodriguezes.
TwistNHook: We don't play these guys this year. That means they will be really, really, really bad and we'll dodge them for no good reason (except for the ability to get obliterated by USC year in and year out!). But they have RichRod. Can he get the West FN Virginia magic back in the desert??????????
atomsareenough: "West FN Virginia"? Do you mean "West-by-God-Virginia"?
Anyway, Arizona. Looking at the schedule, I see fairly certain losses against Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford, USC, Washington, and Utah. So that's 6 expected losses, plus I imagine UCLA and Oregon State are likely to be losses. Even Toledo the first game of the season might well be a loss. Toledo won 9 games last year, lost to Ohio State by only 5, and they put up a metric crapton of points on most of their opponents.
Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how the RichRod system works out in Arizona. I think it'll go well in the long run, but there will be a learning curve. It seems like there could easily be 9 losses this year, and that's assuming they beat Colorado and Arizona State, which are probably close to tossups.
Of course, these past two years are the two years we don't play them.
[shakes fist at cloud]
(See if there's any more fist-shaking after the jump.)
unclesam22: I agree with the previous thoughts on two counts 1) What kind of bad luck do we have to miss them two years in a row when they've been and probably will be terrible, and 2) I think that RichRod will do a good job with them eventually, but it is going to take some time for him to transition their players into the the new system and to recruit for his offense. I don't know if he'll have WV success with them, as Michigan showed that he's not the be all, end all coach of the century, but I'll be interested to see how his offense fairs in the Pac-12.
So for this year and maybe next I think they'll do ok, but after that, given some recruiting success, they might start to make some noise.
HydroTech: The big question on my mind is how long it will take for Rich Rodriguez to install his offense at Arizona. From Rodriguez's time at Michigan we saw that it can take a while, and despite having a lot of talented players it does not guarantee a smooth adjustment.
Arizona's previous offense was a pass heavy spread offense. Their offensive linemen were probably more accustomed to pass blocking with very wide spacing rather than run blocking and using tighter spacing. Now, they're going to have to do a total switch. They'll use tighter spacing, they'll run block more, and required to be much more athletic (from all the run blocking). I'm not sure how well this transition will go.
Remember the last time we beat Arizona? This was a critical sequence in the game. Enjoy.
Vincent S: think I'm going against the grain here, but I think the transition at Arizona will be much easier for RichRod than the transition at Michigan was. For one thing, Arizona is "all-in" (Michigan had reservations even after hiring him). For another, Matt Scott redshirted last year, giving them a great system quarterback to start with. I think there will be some growing pains, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Arizona upset at least one of USC, UCLA, or Utah.
Curse fate for making us skip Colorado and Arizona these two years. Watch; they'll be a terror next year when we face them again.
Kodiak: I tend to agree with Hydro that Arizona is probably a year away. I don't know that Stoops left the cupboard completely bare. Their defense has been pretty tough the last couple of years, especially when they were able to establish an outside speed rusher.
From what I recall, Matt Scott is a better fit for a RichRod-like offense than Foles. It just seems like it would take at least a year for them to get up to speed both with execution and personnel.
Naturally, we get to play them after they've figured things out.
TwistNHook: Uncle Ted has Arizona ranked poorly:
Our Pac-12 position rankings are done. Here are the standings:
10. Arizona: 19
11. Arizona State: 17
12. Colorado ("We'll see" in nine of 12 positions): 13
The points are based off of how well each position is. So, out of context 19 might not make a lot of sense, but the focus is that Arizona is the 3rd worst team in the Pac-12 based off of this metric. Oy!
In fact, in Miller's analysis, the only place where Arizona rated a "great shape" was at punter:
Arizona: Kyle Dugandzic led the Pac-12 with an average of 46 yards per punt.
Ohio Bear: Not to pooh pooh it, but I think TwistNHook could average 46 yards per punt in the Tucson air.
atomsareenough: Well, regardless, I think their punter will probably get a lot of attempts this year, so they'd better hope he's decent.
Bear Down, Arizona!
TwistNHook: Score predictions?
Ohio Bear: For what? The Cal vs. Arizona Pac-12 Championship Game?
TwistNHook: I'm so dumb, sorry. Any final thoughts on Arizona then?
Cugel: But we're not playing them.
TwistNHook: See above.
Berkelium97: Cal 105, Arizona 105
Ohio Bear: Well in that case, Berkelium, I hope we have the last possession and run a play for Allen Crabbe coming off a high screen from Dick Solo.