2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 60 Arizona Wildcats
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Arizona Wildcats
No. 60: Arizona Wildcats
Arizona Wildcats Prespring Status
Arizona never, ever caught a health break last year. How can you tell? A Rich Rodriguez-led team finished 100th in the nation in scoring and only averaged 413 yards per game? The win over Arizona State might have made things better at the end, but it was an ugly run after a 2-1 start, even with a strong overtime loss performance against Washington. The injuries kicked in, and that was that. So if everyone can finally stay healthy, will that be the difference? Maybe.
The one big positive out of last year was the time logged in by a slew of young guys thrown to the wolves. Now the offense comes back with eight or nine returning starters depending on the alignment, while the defense that struggled so much – it is a RichRod team, after all – only gets back six starters.
Arizona Wildcats Biggest Issue
The receiving corps. Losing most of the linebacking corps might be the bigger problem – leading tackler Paul Magloire and third-leading guy Michael Barton are gone, and the Cats might have to start a slew of freshmen – and the offense works on the ground, but the receiving corps needs to be addressed after losing leading receiver Nate Phillips and three of the top four targets. On the plus side, Phillips only caught 33 balls – it’s not like he and the lost producers can’t be replaced – but for an offense that needs more pop, new stars have to emerge.
Arizona Wildcats Biggest Positive
The running game. QB Brandon Dawkins looks like a keeper, getting to work behind a veteran line. A few rushers have to step up with the loss of Samajie Grant, but with injuries kicking in, it was running back by committee for most of the season with no back able to hit the 500-yard mark. Fortunately, Nick Wilson should be back, and J.J. Taylor is promising. Now it’s up to Dawkins to do even more, leading the team with 944 yards and ten scores, but he needs to become more of a downfield passer – actually, he has to become a passer, period – and do it with the new receivers in the mix.
Really, Why Are The Arizona Wildcats Ranked Here?
Again, it depends on the health of the team, along with the effectiveness of the offense. The Wildcats will run well, and they’ll have their explosive moments, but they’ll have to make up for the always-lousy defense that’ll have problems again in a higher-octane Pac-12. Nothing less than a bowl will be okay, but it’ll take something crazy to get back to the South-winning ways of a two years ago.