2012 ARIZONA FOOTBALL SEASON PREVIEW:
What started off as a promising first win against Northern Arizona in the first week of the 2011 season quickly devolved into a lost year for the Arizona Wildcats. The team simply couldn't match the talent level of other squads in the Pacific-12 Conference and finished with a 4-8 record overall. However, there are plenty of reasons for optimism in Tucson, as former West Virginia and Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez will take over the Wildcats program during 2012. Rodriguez will bring his unique version of the spread offense, which could prove to be a decisive factor in helping the Wildcats become PAC-12 contenders once again.
The Wildcats will return six starters on offense for the 2012 campaign, but the biggest change will come at the quarterback position with Matt Scott taking the reins. Scott played in spots during the 2011 season, but is an instinctive and athletic quarterback who could be ideal for Rodriguez's run and gun system. The coaching staff is excited about the potential of do-it-all running back Ka'Deem Carey, whose skills should pair well with power backs like Taimi Tutogi and Greg Nwoko. The receiving corps will be lead by senior Dan Buckner, but the team will need big contributions from their underclassmen as well. Finally, the Wildcat offensive line should give Matt Scott plenty of time in the passing game, as only one starter will be replaced from the 2011 squad.
On defense, the Wildcats were only able to muster 10 sacks throughout the entire 2011 season. Unfortunately, the team is basically starting from scratch with a series of unproven players on the defensive line. Defensive ends Dan Pettinato and Justin Washington are expected to be the starters, but will need to use their size to overcome a lack of experience. The Wildcat linebacking corps is seriously lacking in depth, so junior Jake Fischer will have to get the young guns up to speed quickly. Thankfully, the Wildcats' secondary has a series of impressive playmakers, such as safety Marcus Flowers and cornerback Derrick Rainey.
The Wildcats are in the midst of a major rebuilding project, but they have the talent on offense to surprise many of the teams on their schedule. The majority of their tough PAC-12 opponents, like Oklahoma State, USC and Arizona State, will come at home, which could provide the chance for a major Wildcat upset. While the squad may not blow too many teams out this year, Rich Rodriguez's new team is sure to have a competitive spirit and confidence to contend this year and beyond.
ARIZONA WILDCATS INFORMATION:
First Season: 1899
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Stadium: Arizona Stadium
Rivals: USC Trojans, UCLA Bruins, Arizona State Sun Devils
Mascot: Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat
Notable Alumni: Mike Bell, Lance Briggs
Notable Bowl Games:
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The Arizona Wildcats football program first fielded a team in 1899 with the nickname Arizona Varsity. The team picked up the Wildcats moniker in 1914. Most football fans remember the success of the Wildcats program best in the 1990's under head coach Dick Tomey and his tough and powerful “Desert Swarm” defense. Who can forget the 29-0 slaughter of the favored Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl in 1993, or in 1998 when the Wildcats ended the season with a 12-1 record and a #3 national ranking?
The Arizona Wildcats football team plays their home games at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona. The stadium has been the football team's home since it opened in 1928 with a capacity of just 7,000. Today the stadium holds nearly 58,000 screaming Arizona fans and this season it will be the site of many great Pac-12 showdowns, including the annual Arizona-Arizona State game, one of college football's oldest and most intense rivalries. Buy Arizona Wildcats tickets today and don't miss the action!
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