Arizona football will be off to easy start
The beginning of Arizona football’s season is much like the start a new school semester. Professors ease students into classes with syllabi and introductions, while football starts out with some FCS-level competition.
The Wildcats open up with NAU, UNLV, which lost 17-14 to the Lumberjacks at home last year and UTSA, which is in its third year of playing football.
Arizona’s non-conference schedule is so easy it would make even an SEC team blush.
During training camp head coach Rich Rodriguez complained aloud about the lack of a preseason for college football. He must have missed the full schedule banner the Wildcats had set up in the outfield at their main practice facility.
Arizona’s schedule is perfect to break in a new quarterback. The Wildcats can comfortably rotate quarterbacks until late September, when they travel to Washington.
Senior B.J. Denker has almost won the quarterback job by default, as junior Jesse Scroggins was injured for spring football and the start of fall camp. Scroggins or one of the younger signal callers has three games against light competition to catch up to the 2012 back-up Denker.
NAU returns 18 starters, and with a preseason FCS ranking of No. 18, is a prime contender to make the playoffs. Big time college football won’t discover this “playoffs” business until next year.
Arizona has won 10 games in a row against NAU and the Lumberjacks have only beaten the Wildcats once, in 1932.
The in-state “rivals” have played six times this century and the closest NAU has come to an upset was a 34-17 Wildcat win in 2009.
Next week Arizona hits the road to face UNLV, which is hardly daunting. Last year the Rebels went 2-11, 2-5 at home and if you type “Bobby Hauck,” UNLV’s head coach, into Google, the first suggestion besides his name is “Bobby Hauck hot seat.”
The UA’s first road test is more like an open book, open note quiz. UNLV features a likely lame duck coach and little fan support.
Judging by how many UA fans went to the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament in Sin City, there’s a good possibility the Wildcat supporters could be louder than the Rebel fans. UNLV averaged 15,208 fans last year in its 36,800 seat stadium.
UTSA may be Arizona’s toughest conference foe, and the Roadrunners are hardly a powerhouse.
UTSA went 8-4 last year, but those wins came against South Alabama, Texas A&M-Commerce, Georgia State, Northwestern Oklahoma State, New Mexico State, McNeese State, Idaho and Texas State.
In 2011, Texas-San Antonio was an FCS independent and went 4-6.
By Sept. 14, Arizona will be the second-most prominent team UTSA will have faced, yes, this Arizona, behind only Oklahoma State, which the Roadrunners will face Sept. 7.
Just like for UA students, mid-terms and finals seem very far away for Arizona football.
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