2015 Record: 7-6 (3-6)
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez (33-20; fifth year)
Returning Starters: 7 Offense/8 Defense
Key Returners: RB Nick Wilson; WR Trey Griffey; WR Samajie Grant; LB Paul Magloire; CB Davonte' Neal
2015 Offense: 495 ypg (222 rush/273 pass); 37.4 ppg
2015 Defense: 467 ypg (199 rush/268 pass); 35.8 ppg
Offense: Anu Solomon had an up and down junior season. He was benched at one point in the season for both concussions and poor play and seems to be on the brink heading into fall camp. We've been talking about Nick Wilson for a while because he's so good, but injuries have slowed his progress as a player. The Wildcats always seem to have a solid group of wideouts and this year is no different. Trey Griffey is an emerging star and Samajie Grant is a dynamic playmaker who can take it the distance from anywhere on the field. The offensive line returns three starters, but they were only so-so last season, breaking down numerous times in pass-protection. Rodriguez retooled his staff in the offseason, but most of that was on the defensive side of the ball, so he appears to be fine with things on the offensive side of the ball. They did average close to 500 yards per game and 37.4 points per game, but if their defense isn't better, the Wildcats' offense will need to be even better.
Defense: The unit really struggled last year and things probably won't get much better this year with the loss of their best players, Scooby Wright, to graduation. Paul Magloire, who had a solid first year after coming over from the JUCO ranks, will move from safety to linebacker with the hope he can be even more dynamic with his speed and physicality. A lot will rely on how quickly Josh Allen picks things up and if he can be the pass-rusher they all expect him to be early in the season. Arizona gave up 467 yards per game and that number needs to be reduced, but even more imperative is making sure they are better in the redzone where they allowed nearly 60% of the teams the got there to score.
The Bottom Line: Rodriguez is a good coach, but his act is getting a little tired. He stumped for the South Carolina job and that frustrated a lot of Arizona boosters and people in the administration. When he decided to return for the 2016 season, he dismantled the defensive staff and went into hiding and emerged in the spring with a plan to focus on fundamentals and getting back to basics. Will it work? It usually doesn't happen right away. He does have some talent in Magloire, Wilson, Griffey and Grant, but it could be another tough season for them in the Pac 12.