Each week during the Pac-12 season, we'll try to hook up with our fellow SB Nation sites across the conference, so let's kick off the schedule with Arizona's great website, Arizona Desert Swarm. David Potts was kind enough to share his time, his thoughts on an underrated U of A team, and why he has can empathize with North Korea but not ASU.
Bruins Nation: 42, 44, & 77?! Sure, it's non conference, but still, 42, 44, & 77! What, if anything, can slow down the Wildcats' offense?
David Potts: A Power 5 team, maybe? Arizona's offense has looked very impressive in its non-conference slate, but it's unfortunately difficult to gauge what that means when those games have been against less talented opponents.
Against more talented opponents, I don't think Arizona's offense can be stopped, but it can be slowed down. It'll take more athleticism in the secondary so that Anu Solomon's intermediate passing game doesn't cut up the defense and extend drives. And it'll take a lot of big bodies in the middle that can stop Nick Wilson from churning out runs.
BN: For being the defending Pac-12 South champs and with some really key players returning, I don't think Arizona got enough respect in the preseason. Do you think the team and coaches pay any attention to that sort of stuff, or did that maybe put a little chip on the Wildcats' collective shoulder?
DP: Man, this is definitely the hardest question on here. I'm not sure they pay much attention to that stuff, at least as a group. I think Rich Rodriguez typically wants the team to focus on itself, and he has a group of players (Davonte' Neal, Anu Solomon, and Scooby Wright, as examples) that project a lot of humility. I don't think he wants to create an atmosphere that is concerned with proving everyone else wrong or that is reliant on bulletin board material. At the end of the day, I think Rich Rodriguez and the coaching staff want the team to be focused on themselves, not the media.
BN: So considering those so-called predictions and the Wildcats successful 2014 season, in what ways do you think Arizona has improved this year? What things most concern you about this year's team?
DP: I think the team has gotten even better offensively. All things considered, the Wildcats lost very little on offense last season at the skill positions (with Austin Hill and Terris Jones-Grimsby the only real notable departures). The offensive line did lose a few key components, but that hasn't come back to bite Arizona yet. At the same time, Arizona's young talent (notably Solomon and Wilson) have improved - Solomon has no turnovers through three games and Wilson is looking like one of the best running backs in the Pac-12. Arizona didn't have much room to improve offensively, but they somehow managed to do so this year.
What concerns me the most about Arizona is the defensive line and linebacking corps. The unit just hasn't been able to get pressure (save for the game against NAU, which doesn't really count). This was actually a problem last year, too - an inordinate amount of Arizona's pressure last season was caused by one-man wrecking crew Scooby Wright. Without him, Arizona has been largely unable to get to the quarterback. Scooby Wright is questionable for this upcoming game, and even if he's out, the front six showed some signs of life against NAU, but I worry that Arizona's defense won't be able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
BN: It's sort of ironic that as U.C.L.A. loses one of the conferences two most high profile linebackers in Myles Jack, Arizona might be getting the other high profile linebacker back on the field, and if not this week, then very soon. What makes Scooby Wright III such a special player, and did you guys see this in his early years on campus?
DP: I really hate the word "motor," but I'm still going to use it - Scooby's motor is what separates him from a lot of other players. Really, because Scooby broke out so quickly (he's a true junior this year), we only had one year with him before he became a national force. Despite being an unheralded recruit, Scooby worked his way into a starting position in the very first game that year and hasn't looked back since. He also was part of one of Arizona's best plays that year, the interception against Marcus Mariota that sealed the upset win against Oregon. Scooby is a hard-worker and humble, so he's really easy to root for, but I don't think Arizona fans expected he would become the national award winner that he has become.
Bonus: If Arizona State were playing the North Korean All-Stars, who are you cheering for?
DP: North Korean All-Stars. Those poor North Korean players didn't choose to be born into a totalitarian dictatorship, but the players for Arizona State chose to go to ASU.