The Thoughts of a Fat Man

Coming into the 2006 season all Arizona Wildcat fans had high hopes for what the young Cats could do on the field. Most were expecting a jump back into bowl contention for the Cats and so far through two games nothing really has changed. With all of the worries and moaning going on after the Baton Rouge debacle some things standout to me so I decided to put all of my thoughts in a column.

I know all of my thoughts in one column is a scary thought but here goes anyway.

Things I like about the first two games…

One, as in No. 1, and no I don't mean Louis Holmes. I am talking about Syndric Steptoe, aka Mr. Consistent. Through the first two games Syndric has simply been Syndric. He may be the only thing likeable about the performance of the offense thus far. The senior is playing quicker than he ever has before and he looks to be developing into more of a vocal leader. A much needed vocal leader.

Defensive tackle play. So far, although the numbers don't really bare it out, I think the defensive tackles have played very well so far. The two team rotation of Yaniv Barnett, Lionel Dotson, Paul Philipp and Donald Horton have so far proven what many thought would be the case. The unit is deeper and better than it has been in years. The depth has already been tested when Barnett suffered an elbow hyper-extension against LSU. In his stead, sophomore Dave Bertrand played very well.

Nick Folk. Simply put, Folk has been very good in his senior year to date. He is four of five on his field goal attempts on the young season including a game winning, last-second 48 yarder against BYU. Adding to his normal place kicking exploits, Folk has again put up incredible punting numbers. Through the first two games he has punted 10 times and has an impressive 48 yard average that places him third nationally.

Spencer Larsen. You know what I am talking about so there is no reason to expand. He is good.

Things I don't like about the first two games…

Offensive Line play. There are a lot of reasons for the early season struggles of the offensive line. While all of them are true, none of them are reason enough for the sheer amount of struggles we have witnessed. They are young, inexperienced and a little banged up as a unit but that should not be an excuse. They have immense talent and are all very smart young men and their play should be better. Things will undoubtedly get better as the year progresses but if for no other reason than Willie Tuitama's health they need to grow up in a hurry.

The Linebackers not named Spencer Larsen. Unlike the offensive line there is no reason that this unit should be struggling. While they have not played near as bad as the offensive line has, they have not lived up to expectations as a unit.

Tackling. So far the Wildcat defense has proven one thing and one thing only. They can flat out hit and bring the wood. Unfortunately they rarely wrap up effectively and the LSU game proved another old football cliché, arm tackling will win you nothing. Through two games the young Wildcat defenders have either gone for the big hit or attempted an arm tackle. If the Cats want to get to a bowl game the whole defensive unit better start hitting AND wrapping up.

Things I am indifferent about after two games…

Play Calling. So far the play calling of Offensive Coordinator Mike Canales has neither been good or bad. Poor offensive line play is always an issue when calling plays and that has been the biggest thing facing Canales thus far. If you have no confidence in your unit up front then it is hard to make gutsy calls. While I would like to see the Cats spread the field more and use Steptoe, Thomas and the two young receivers more I can see why he has been hesitant to do so.

Anthony Johnson. Johnson has always been so up and down in his Wildcat career and he has done just that early in the season. One play he will make a huge catch and on the very next play he will drop a ball. He came in as an athletic project at receiver and he has proven that out. It is frustrating when you must count on a player like that so hopefully either AJ can grow up faster or one of the young Terrells can take his spot. Either way, the Cats need a third wide out to emerge with some consistency.

Special Teams overall. This probably should have gone in the things I like part but I expected the Special Teams to be special and under the tutelage of Joe Robinson they have met my expectations.

Favorite moment of the first two weeks…

Nick Folk from 48, that was easy.

Least favorite moment of the first two weeks…

Mike Stoops' sideline antics. Through his first two years I have always been the first one to back up the young head coach when detractors have confessed their distaste for his sideline behavior. While I will continue to do so, on Saturday Coach Stoops went a little too far. When the ESPN cameras captured Stoops berating wide receivers coach Charlie Williams after Anthony Johnson dropped a pass I was more than slightly embarrassed. Getting on members of your staff or your team is something that I whole heartedly agree with, from time to time. But this time it seemed to be too much and at the wrong time and was just an overall bad moment in Stoops' young coaching career.

No doubt someone has talked to Coach Stoops and pointed out that if he continues to act this way towards his fellow coaches then only bad things can happen. There is no doubt that there is great pressure on Stoops and the rest of his staff and unless the man in charge does something to take some pressure off then the other members of the staff, and even the team, will more than likely start to press to much. When coaching staffs, and ultimately players, press too hard bad things tend to happen. It is like quicksand in that the harder you work to get yourself out of the mess, the quicker you sink.

Nobody needs to tell Mike Stoops how to run his program and that is certainly not what I am doing. But if there was one piece of advice that I would recommend that he heed it is simply this, ‘relax, take a step back and let your coaches do their jobs. You hired them for a reason and nobody likes to work for a micro-manager.'

So there ya have it. That is what I have been thinking about since Saturday. Yeah, maybe it wasn't that scary to read this. After all why should it be, it is just the opinion of a fat Irishman.


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