Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Arizona Wildcats season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Arizona Wildcats
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Arizona Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Of all the big coaching hires this offseason, this should be one that works.
Or, at the very least, Arizona had the right idea.
Kevin Sumlin needed a change of scenery, Texas A&M needed to make a switch, and Arizona needed to win the hire after the awful way the Rich Rodriguez era ended – and with all the drama on the basketball side.
Just like UCLA getting Chip Kelly, and Nebraska landing Scott Frost, if this doesn’t work, it’s not the school’s fault. Sumlin could’ve ended up as the head man at just about any of the open gigs – or in the NFL – and no one would’ve batted an eye. Now he has a job in a conference that’s a better fit for his style.
It would’ve been interesting if Texas A&M had delayed the move to the SEC a little longer after hiring Sumlin in 2012, and just as Johnny Manziel was about to make his stunning debut. With an amazing offense, and despite the chronically mediocre defense, the Aggies would’ve ripped apart a down Big 12.
Instead, they entered the SEC West just as Alabama was hitting its stride. At the same time, LSU and Auburn continued to be solid, and Ole Miss and Mississippi State suddenly became great at college football.
Four straight five-loss seasons after starting out 20-6 wasn’t okay for a program like A&M or for Sumlin, but with Bama doing this under Nick Saban, it’s not like anyone else in the West is pumping out SEC or national championships.
For Sumlin, Arizona, and the Pac-12 South, this is the right fit at just the right time.
UCLA and Arizona State are both in a transitional phase, Colorado is okay, and Utah is strong, but beatable. USC is still the star of the division, but it’s replacing a few key cogs, too, and it has to come to Tucson.
Lots of offense, optional defense, explosiveness, big plays, shootouts …
Welcome home to the Pac-12, Coach Sumlin.
He’s got the parts in place to crank up the offense from the start, beginning with the fabulous Khalil Tate at quarterback.
J.J. Taylor and the rest of the running backs are good enough to keep the Pac-12’s best running game going if the line can get it together in a hurry, and the receiving corps has the potential to be dangerous if Tate really has made strides as a passer.
The defense won’t be confused with Alabama’s, but it was young last season, will be aggressive this year, and if nothing else, will get into the backfield and take the ball away. As long as it can come up with a few more third down stops and hold serve a little more, it’ll be doing its job.
Arizona has its coach, it has its star quarterback, it has the experience across the board, and the recruiting under Sumlin is heating up. Best of all – at least until USC gets it all together – it doesn’t have Alabama in its division.
For a program that’s lost five games or more in 18 of the last 19 seasons, and for a coach looking for redemption, the new era really does start now.