2008 Arizona Wildcats Football Preview
Arizona 2007 Record: (5-7, 4-5 Pac 10)
2007 Bowl: none
Arizona Head Coach: Mike Stoops (17-31 at Arizona, 17-31 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Sonny Dykes
Defensive Coordinator: Mark Stoops
Returning Leaders for Arizona:
Other Key Returnees: OG Colin Baxter, HB Delashaun Dean, OT Eben Britton, TE Rob Gronkowski, C Blake Kerley, OG Joe Longacre, S Cam Nelson, WR Terrell Turner
Key Losses: DT Yaniv Barnett, CB Antoine Cason, DT Lionel Dotson, CB Wilrey Fontenot, OT Peter Graniello, DE Louis Holmes, WR Anthony Johnson, LB Dane Krogstad, LB Spencer Larsen, DE Jason Parker
It took some time for Arizona’s offense to start getting the hang of coordinator Sonny Dykes’ air-it-out offense, but by the end of the year things started to click. During the Wildcats’ three game winning streak in late October through November, the offense hung 48 points on Washington, 34 on UCLA and 34 on Oregon. Now if quarterback Willie Tuitama and company can do that all year long, watch out Pac-10.
And with ten starters returning on offense, this is a team that could put up a whole lot of points in a hurry. Tuitama has just about all of his weapons returning. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, H-back Delashuan Dean and receivers Mike Thomas and Terrell Turner give Tuitama plenty of quality receivers. However, the addition of junior college transfer Derick Barkum could be the long threat the team needs. Barkum has terrific speed, but he needs to prove that he can catch the ball before he will see much time on the field. With the return of four of the five starting offensive linemen, Arizona hopes the running game will improve a bit. Even though the team does not want to run too often, it is still nice to rush for more than 76.8 yards per game. Nic Grigsby could be the answer after a decent freshman campaign, but he needs to improve for his sophomore season.
Last year it was the defense that held the team together while the offense developed their new system. This year it will be the offense holding the team together while the defense fills some major holes. The most glaring need is at cornerback where Antoine Cason and Wilrey Fontenot dominated the pass happy Pac-10 as much as possible during their senior campaigns. In their place will be Marquis Hundley and Devin Ross who have talent, but certainly lack in experience. The corners might be the most noticeable difference on defense, but the frontline might be the most important. Just about everybody who saw any significant playing time last year was a senior. Jonathan Turner has some experience at end, but sophomores Ricky Elmore, Lolomana Mikaele, Brooks Reed and D’Aundre Reed need to step up and at least provide some depth. To help address the problem former H-back Earl Mitchell and linebacker Apaiata Tuilhalamaka will see time on the defensive line.
The Bottom Line for the Wildcats:
Sooner or later Coach Mike Stoops will have his offense and defense both at the top of their game. The defense has the potential to be decent and that could be enough for the Wildcats to reach their first bowl game since 1998. But if a bowl bid is in the cards, the offense better score in bunches. And they have yet to prove that they can consistently put points on the board.
2007 Arizona Wildcats Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 76.75 (114th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 308.50 (10, 2)
Total Offense: 385.25 (67, 7)
Scoring Offense: 28.00 (56, 6)
Rushing Defense: 138.00 (47, 6)
Pass Defense: 234.17 (71, 5)
Total Defense: 372.17 (53, 5)
Scoring Defense: 26.83 (59, 7)
Turnover Margin: -.08 (64, 6)
Sacks: 2.25 (45, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.58 (92, 6)
By Joel Welser
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