Jason Scheer: Honestly, it is hard to say. There is just so much unknown right now not only in terms of scheme, but who is going to be playing. The schemes are so different, that what players did last year means absolutely nothing.
In terms of attitude though, I have been impressed with Arizona so far. The general belief is that this team is in better physical shape than it has been in the past few years. Whether or not that translates to the field remains to be seen, but that is just one more question in a line of many.
Devils Digest: How has the transition been so far under Rich Rodriguez. What have been some of his biggest challenges since arriving in Tucson?
Jason Scheer: I think Rodriguez has similar challenges to what Graham is probably facing right now. Every new coach has to make sure that players are buying into his system and that the ones that don't are taken care of.
In addition, the previous coaching staff left Arizona with absolutely no depth. The coaching staff was shocked when it looked at the roster because there are numerous positions, like linebacker, where an injury would be crippling.
Rodriguez has to find a way to get around that and make sure that his players are well aware of the situations facing them.
So far, so good. However, there have not been any games played yet and that is when everything is answered.
Devils Digest: Going into fall camp what do you feel is the biggest strength of this team and what is its biggest weakness?
Jason Scheer: The pieces on offense are definitely strength. Matt Scott at quarterback is a blessing for Rodriguez in his first year and then he has Daniel Jenkins and Ka'Deem Carey at running back. This will allow him to transition into his offensive successfully and that will be a big part of what he wants to do.
The biggest weakness is easily defensive depth because there is none. Jake Fischer is the only player at linebacker that is locked in there and literally every other defensive position may be up for grabs.
Not only that, but the defense as a whole is lacking some speed and fit in terms of what Jeff Casteel wants to do. If this defensive is successful, it will be an impressive coaching job.
Devils Digest: Any concerns of playing a fairly inexperienced quarterback in Matt Scott in a system that is brand new to begin with?
Jason Scheer: Honestly, I don't think so. The biggest concern is probably keeping him healthy. Scott played a similar system in high school and his transition has been smooth. His ability fits right into what Rodriguez wants to do and it would be a surprise if he is not successful right away.
Devils Digest: Which contest on the schedule do you think is a key game and why?
Jason Scheer: I think Oklahoma State will tell us a lot about this team. For starters, it is a home game and the Cowboys will be expected to be a heavy favorite regardless. Since it is so early in the season, Arizona is likely going to struggle and most people will expect that.
If that does not happen, and Arizona has some success, the season will take a major turn. I think Arizona can build off a close game here and that is why it is extremely important to at least make it competitive.
Devils Digest: Name one player on offense and one player on defense that may be relatively unknown and that you expect to make an impact in 2012?
Jason Scheer: Garic Wharton has not had much of a role at Arizona, but the coaching change will likely work out for him. If Wharton is anything, he is fast. He was a track star in high school and while his hands are a bit of a question right now, his speed is not. Rodriguez will likely use him on the edge as much as possible and it would not be a surprise if he has success this season.
On defense, Vince Miles could break out at safety. He is a walk-on freshman that arrived in January and since then has been impressive at safety. At the very least, Miles will get playing time and he has a legitimate chance to contribute because of his speed.
Devils Digest: What is your 2012 prediction and do you think that record is satisfactory?
Jason Scheer: It is really difficult to make the prediction right now because of all the questions, but I will go 6-6. Personally, I think Arizona fans should be happy with that record, but I am not sure they will be.
Rodriguez has made no secret of the fact that his system takes a few years to be successful and a 6-6 record would likely be ahead of schedule.