Arizona Football Mailbag

We answer readers' question about Arizona football as the Wildcats continue spring football.

Do you expect anymore coaching changes? Who are our analysts and grad assistants for next season?

I don’t see any coaches that would leave at this point. Magee and Smith are close to Rodriguez and there really isn’t a ton of coaching movement going on anyway. Terrence Miller as a volunteer as of now, but there could be a few things that get cleared up and eventually lead to him becoming an offensive grad assistant. Other than that, the graduate assistants and analysts are the same as last season.

Are the number of leg injuries and concussions Arizona has had since the install of the field turf consistent with other programs that have the same type of surface?

Yeah, I don’t think it is anything out of the ordinary. Arizona’s attention may get some more focus simply because the guys that get injured are such a vital part of the team. If you look around the country, there were a ton of injuries and those happened to teams that don’t play on turf as well.

Who are the deep sleepers to contribute out of spring?

Tony Ellison is a guy that has struggled since coming to Arizona, but this is another spring that his teammates have spoken highly of him. I have heard Bryson Cain has put together a strong spring and he could be in the rotation on the offensive line. Jamie Nunley may be the best tight end on the roster and could be in line for a surprisingly good season. 

Safe to say that no matter how the fall goes, Rich Rod will play both Dawkins and Tate in the OOC..or do you think he'll ride one until that guy plays poorly?

Ideally he will ride one until he can’t any more, but I can see the other scenario as well. I have a feeling Tate is going to improve at a rapid rate and make it difficult to keep him off the field, even if it is in certain packages.

The "Red Rifle" has the build and apparently the abilities of Russell Wilson (swift feet, strong arm). Wouldn't you say then, that if he can get it together upstairs with the playbook, he has a good shot at some point?

I think he has some work to do. First off, he needs to lose considerable weight. He is at least 250 pounds right now and needs better conditioning in a bad way. In addition, we have to see what he can do against better competition. I would be surprised if Lane plays in the next two years because, in my opinion, he isn’t nearly good enough to beat out Tate. Maybe he surprises me, but that’s my gut as of now.

Schematically, and with the coaching changes, do you feel there will be a more consistent and definable defensive approach? Seems like there will be more depth to run more personnel and permit Yates to do more of what he wants to do than last season, no?

Arizona wants to be aggressive, but it can only be as aggressive as the defense lets it. In other words, if these guys aren’t good enough to blitz as much as the coaches want, they won’t be able to do it. I do think that Yates will have a bit more freedom with the defense due in large part to the increase in overall depth and hopefully in talent as well. 

What do you think the D-line will look like?

It’s anybody’s best guess. Parker Zellers, Luca Bruno, Justin Belknap, and Larry Tharpe will get a good amount of reps. Sione will get playing time as long as he can get in better shape. I think you will see a ton of bodies moving in and out until Arizona can find consistency. 

Do you think there is something to be said of the huddle approach taking against ASU? This team has a long standing problem of beginning games with long bouts of three and outs, which in turn seems to effect the D. That was not a problem against ASU. Do you think starting off slower before picking up the tempo, allowing the O to settle into the game, is something the staff will explore?

Yes and no. I think it was better for the quarterbacks to calm down and not have to think too much. However, with the talent gap as of now, the no huddle offense gives Arizona a schematic advantage or at least it is supposed to. Also you have to keep in mind that the ASU defense is absolutely terrible and they steal signals, so the slowing down worked considerably there. 

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