It's been a week of question marks for both teams. What will happen to the UCLA defense with Myles Jack out for the year? Will Scooby Wright play on Saturday for the Wildcats?
Both teams are looking to come out of Saturday as the big dog in the Pac-12 South. The good news for UCLA is that our defense probably has enough depth to overcome the injury to Myles Jack. Heck, Isaako Savaiinaea proved last week just how deep we are at linebacker.
Well, for a few minutes, let's discuss the guys who won't be playing in the game this weekend: the Arizona Coaching Staff.
The Arizona coaching staff has remained in tact since Rich Rodriguez became head coach at Arizona. In fact, RichRod and his assistants have generally stuck together since 2007 when Rodriguez was the head coach at West Virginia.
Of course, they all went their separate ways for the 2011 season because Rodriguez had been fired from Michigan following the 2010 season and he didn't coach in 2011.
But, when Rodriguez was hired by Arizona in November 2011 for the 2012 season, the coordinators he brought on were all guys who had worked for him at both West Virginia and Michigan.
Rodriguez is undefeated in Tucson against top 10 teams, having defeated #9 USC in 2012 and #5 Oregon in 2013. He has split two games against top 10 opponents away from Tucson, beating #2 Oregon in Eugene last season and losing to #3 Oregon in last season's Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
Since Rodriguez arrived in Arizona, Calvin Magee and Rod Smith have served as co-offensive coordinators. The duo have been responsible for running a no-huddle, run-oriented version of the spread offense. So far, this season, Arizona's offense is rated 6th in yards per game and 3rd in scoring.
The Arizona defense is led by defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. Arizona's defense has not performed quite as well as the Arizona offense. They are currently ranked 82nd in yards per game and 53rd in scoring.
As we usually do, let's now look at the Arizona Special Teams.
The placekicking for Arizona will again be handled by Casey Skowron. Skowron is 78 for 79 on PATs. That's basically automatic. The redshirt senior is 1-2 this year on field goal attempts, both of which were between 40 and 49 yards. His long so far in 2015 is 46 yards. Last year, he hit 4 out of 5 attempts beyond 40 yards including a long of 49. He was shakiest last year between 30 and 39 yards, making only 9 of 14 attempts. Lastly, 60% of his 25 kickoffs have been touchbacks. In other words, he sounds like a typical college kicker.
Punting will again be done for the Wildcats by Drew Riggleman. The redshirt senior is a pretty solid punter with 1/3 of his kicks going inside the 20 and 1/3 of his kicks going 50 yards or more. (Note: there may be significant overlap between those kicks.) Count on more of the same from Riggleman based on his stats so far this year.
One potential wildcard in this equation is Anu Solomon who quick kicked 4 times last season and has already done so once this season.
One area where the Bruins will seem to have an advantage on special teams is in the return game.
Last week, Devin Fuller had a huge game just returning punts and kickoffs. Well, so far through three games, Arizona has only returned a total of three kicks and one punt. Look for DaVonte Neal to be returning punts while Jared Baker and Nate Phillips will handle kickoff returns. Neal has only returned one punt through three games while Baker has returned two kickoffs and Philips one.
They haven't been able to do much damage returning kicks and punts so far this season and I expect that trend to continue.