With football camp starting in a little more than a week, there are plenty of questions. Here are the five biggest storylines to keep an eye on.
Who will the quarterback be?
This is easily the biggest question of camp and it’s one that nobody really has a good feel for right now. The winner of the quarterback competition is obviously going to mean a lot for the success or failure of the offense, but this is the second year in a row where we don’t know who the QB will be.
Last season, we had a good idea that B.J. Denker would eventually be named the starter, but this one is wide open. You have Anu Solomon, who came in highly rated and has fans waiting for him to break out. Then you have Jerrard Randall, who is easily the best runner of the bunch and also might have the most questions. Jesse Scroggins struggled last season, but swears he is a changed man. Connor Brewer came in highly regarded and may know the offense the best of the bunch.
Each quarterback has his own questions surrounding him and the hope is that the answers will come by the end of camp.
Will the defense be better?
On paper, there is no reason it shouldn’t be. However, people are somewhat overlooking what the loss of a guy like Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers can do. It would be a welcoming sight to see the defense better right away, but there could be some growing pains that show up during camp.
For instance, Jamardre Cobb already has high expectations placed upon him, but he has barely been on campus. The defensive line also has some concerns and Rodriguez has not been quiet about the fact that the overall depth is not where he would like it to be.
Again, it should be better on paper, but it is a situation where it is hard to believe it until we see it.
Which freshmen will step up?
We have a good idea of which players will be asked to play right away. As we sad above, Cobb is going to be expected to contribute. Cameron Denson is likely going to be slotted at one of the corner spots and even if he does not start, he is definitely going to play right away.
Beyond that, there are some questions as to which freshmen are going to be ready to contribute. Many expect Marcus Griffin to play right away, but Rodriguez somewhat downplayed that at the recent Pac-12 Media Day, saying that defensive line is a difficult position to learn in college.
We would like to think that more than three or four freshmen are going to contribute, but it is not as simple and straight forward as some may like to believe.
Will a running back emerge?
Now that Ka’Deem Carey is gone, running back has gone from a major strength to a major question. We truly have no idea how Arizona will handle this position, but we do know that there are a ton of options.
Nick Wilson could come in and contribute right away if he is able to pick up the blocking scheme, as could Jonathan Haden. Zachary Green could take a step forward and at least get some short yardage carries. Terris Jones-Grigsby is somewhat of a sleeper, which is interesting considering that he may have been the top back in the spring. Lastly, Adonis Smith has gotten college caries, but has plenty of questions himself.
Arizona is not going to get a replacement for Carey, but the ideal situation is that a primary back emerges during spring, as do one or two others that can get some carries as well.
Can special teams take a step forward?
It seems that special teams have become a cruel joke at Arizona and Rodriguez reached a point last season where he hesitated to kick field goals. In comes Josh Pollack and the belief is that he will be able to come in and contribute right away. Again though, this is something we have to see to believe because we have been told this before.
Arizona will be a considerably better team if it can get consistent play from special teams and there is a legitimate competition at both the kicker and punter positions.