Previewing the Arizona Wildcats: Part I - Coaching and Offense

After a bye week, our Bruins travel to Tucson to take on the 1-5 Arizona Wildcats on Thursday.  Arizona is also coming of a bye week, and they will be introducing interim head coach Tim Kish, who takes over for fired Mike Stoops.  

Thursday Nights have not been kind to UCLA in the recent years, and Arizona has had UCLA's number of late as well. That said, this is a huge game for the Pac-12 South race.  If the Bruins are serious about competing this year, this is a game that UCLA absolutely must win.  

Coaches

Kish was brought to Tucson by Stoops as a linebackers coach.  He served that post until he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2010, and he took on full duties this year.  He is continuing as defensive coordinator, and it is unclear at this point whether he will continue to make the defensive calls.

Arizona is giving up 37.5 ppg, 196 rushing ypg, and 291 passing ypg.  Opponents are completing over 74% of their pass attempts for over 8 ypa.  Needless to say, they have been struggling defensively and it is somewhat surprising that the defensive coordinator got the interim gig.

Offensively, Arizona runs Sonny Dykes' air raid spread offense.  Seth Littrell was co-offensive coordinator last year, and he took over full-time duties this year.  Arizona's offense has remained prolific through the air without Dykes, but they are struggling on the ground.  Arizona has averaged 382 ypg through the air, but only 71 rushing ypg.

Quarterbacks

Sr. Nick Foles leads the Arizona offense, and he is one of the best quarterbacks in the country.  At 6'5 240 lbs., he has prototypical size to go along with his elite accuracy.  He is completing 71.5% of his passes with 15 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions.  While he may not be in Andrew Luck's category, he is a potential NFL quarterback with a very high skill level.  

Sr. Matt Scott is listed at #2 on the depth chart, but he has not seen any action this year.  Arizona may be trying to save his last year of eligibility if possible.  UCLA fans are well aware of Scott's ability after he led the Wildcats to a win at the Rose Bowl last year.  At 6'3 195 lbs., he's a little smaller than Foles but much more mobile.

Sr. Bryson Beirne is listed at #3 on the depth chart.  

Running Backs

Sr. Keola Antolin seems to have been at Arizona forever. He runs much harder than his 5'8 195 lbs. frame would indicate.  He's the starting tailback, but he only sees about 11 carries per game. Antolin has 62 carries for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns this year.

Nic Grigsby is gone, and the second back in the Arizona backfield is Fr. Ka'Deem Carey.  The 5'10 190 lbs. Carey gets about 8-9 carries per game.  Carey has 53 carries for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns.

So. Daniel Jenkins is the third back, but he has only 7 carries this year.  At 5'9 190 lbs., he fits right into Arizona's backfield.

Receivers and Tight Ends

Sr. Juron Criner is clearly the most talented of this group.  At 6'4 215 lbs., Criner is a difficult matchup.  After catching 83 balls for 1244 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, he has 26 catches for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns this year.

Sr. Gino Crump starts opposite of Criner.  He also has good size, 6'2 210 lbs., and has had a productive start to the season with 30 catches for 284 yards and a touchdown.  

Inside, Arizona starts Sr.'s David Roberts and David Douglas.  Both are 6'1 205 lbs. and have caught 29 balls this season.  Douglas has more yards (300 to 277), but Roberts 2 touchdowns to Douglas' none.

Sr. Dan Buckner is leading the team in receptions, but he's listed as Crump's back-up.  At 6'4 220 lbs., he's yet another big Wildcat receiver.  He has 33 catches for 487 yards and 2 touchdowns.

RS Fr. Austin Hill is a big play threat to look out for.  He's big (6'3 205 lbs.) and strong, and has been averaging over 14 ypr.

Jr.'s Drew Robinson and Taimi Tutogi will play TE/H-Back.  Robinson will play the TE spot.  At 6'5 250 lbs., he has good size.  Tutogi will be used as a lead blocker, which fits his 6'1 250 lbs. frame perfectly.

Offensive Line

The Wildcat line has struggled this year, giving up a little over 2 sacks per game as well the aforementioned run production.  Part of the lack of run production is due to the 33 tackles for loss opponents have gotten this year totalling -166 yards.  In comparison, UCLA has allowed 22 tackles for loss for -52 yards.  The struggles were to be expected as Arizona lost all five starters from last year's unit to graduation.

Arizona starts a pair of Fr. tackles, LT Mickey Baucus (6'8 303 lbs.) and RT Fabbians Ebbele (6'8 305 lbs.) and a So. at LG, Chris Putton (6'4 298 lbs.).  Jr.'s Kyle Quinn (6'3 300 lbs.) and Trace Biskin (6'5 295 lbs.) round out the starting lineup.

The back-ups are equally inexperienced (two freshmen, a sophomore, and two juniors).  

That concludes the preview of the Arizona Wildcats' coaching and offense.  Fire away with any questions or comments.    

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