Know Your Foe: Arizona

Jason Scheer, the publisher of WildcatAuthority.com, Scout.com's Arizona affiliate, answers five questions about Arizona as the Ducks and Wildcats prepare for a Thursday night showdown at Autzen Stadium. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 (Pacific) kickoff and will be aired on ESPN.

1. The Ducks and Wildcats are set for Thursday night. What do you see as Arizona’s biggest challenge facing the Ducks?

It is hard to answer what the biggest may be, so I will give one on each side of the ball. On offense, this is Anu Solomon's second road start ever, so having him enter the game calm and be able to get the offense going quickly is going to be important. On defense, the challenge is stopping the pass. Arizona has been pretty good against the run and will probably try to take it away from Oregon, but that has left the middle wide open and the defense has really struggled with the deep ball. The pass rush needs to be there and the biggest challenge is simply being able to at least contain the Oregon offense.

2. Last year the Wildcats derailed the Ducks with a huge win in Tucson. What is different about this year’s Wildcat squad from last?

Well, for starters Shaq Richardson is gone and he is the corner that tipped the first interception and then came up with the second. Arizona has a new quarterback, Ka'Deem Carey is gone, and the defensive line is a bit different as well. There are numerous players that left, but Arizona has actually done a pretty good job of filling those voids. Schematically, nothing is different and you can probably assume Arizona is going to go with a similar strategy as it did last year.

3. Arizona’s RS QB Anu Solomon was terrific against Cal by throwing for 520 yards and two TDs including that incredible Hail Mary shot to win the game. In your opinion, how will he do on the road in hostile Autzen Stadium?

I think he is going to struggle, at least at first. That's not a knock on him because I think he will eventually be really good, but this is his second road start ever and his first one was at UTSA. Solomon has never played in an environment like Autzen and that is definitely scary for an Arizona fan and probably the coaching staff as well. Solomon has done a great job of getting better as the game goes on, but the hope is that he is able to start quickly, because Oregon's offense is going to make it very difficult to keep the game close if the Wildcats aren't scoring touchdowns.

4. If you were to pick a surprise Arizona player(s) that Duck fans may not be familiar with and should keep an eye on, who would it be?

There's a few new players, but Nick Wilson seems to be the guy surprising a lot of people. I thought he would do well, but even I am surprised at the start he is off to. Now, he is coming off a concussion against California, but the bye week came at a perfect time and he should be ready to go. He has a ways to go to prove he is another Ka'Deem Carey, but he truly runs similar to him. He is big, strong, and probably a little faster than Carey was. By the time he is done at Arizona, Wilson is going to have some very impressive numbers.

5. RichRod has the Wildcats on the right track. Is this the year the Cats make a run for the South title and if so why (or why not)?

I think Arizona is one year away. There are still some major deficiencies on defense that need to be fixed and I am not sure that they can be fixed this season. In addition, it is difficult to be able to consistently go on the road in the Pac-12 with a freshman quarterback and win a division title. Arizona's schedule the next four games is at Oregon, Home against USC, at Washington State, and then at UCLA. We're going to have a pretty good of where Arizona stands rather quickly.


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