Bye week comes too early for Arizona football
The Arizona football team has a bye this week, but it came too soon.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez said in the press conference after the UTSA game that it was business as usual this week, but he would give the team Friday and Saturday off from practice.
That makes sense — the players haven’t had a break since fall camp. Add to that the usual start-of-the-semester stress, and any college student would want a break right about now.
But the 3-0 Wildcats haven’t truly been tested yet. Arizona had arguably the weakest non-conference schedule in the Pac-12. UTSA proved to be the Wildcats’ most difficult opponent — which isn’t saying much. UTSA is certainly no Stanford or Oregon.
Last season, Arizona’s first bye week came after facing Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford, which resulted in a trio of losses. It was obvious that the Wildcats needed to regroup. They did, and came back to defeat the Washington Huskies in a commanding fashion, 52-17.
But after winning three games, no matter how lopsided the match-ups may have been, wouldn’t it be prudent to take that momentum to Washington against a team that is currently 2-0, including a 38-6 win over then-No. 19 Boise State?
Bye weeks are a time for rest and recovery; however, health hasn’t been much of an issue so far this season.
During fall camp, players were limited on how much they could hit, which cushioned their health. For the past three games, no players have been listed as probable, questionable or doubtful on the injury report.
But bye weeks are also for fixing problems, something Rodriguez said the team intends to do. After the UTSA game, Rodriguez said that having an open date will help the Wildcats to work on problems they’ve had during the first three games.
They still have a lot to clean up, particularly in the offensive line.
Senior linebacker Marquis Flowers said after the UTSA game that the defense has its own issues to work on.
“We still missed a couple plays, and they were big plays. We need to work on that,” Flowers said. “Obviously Washington is going to be a lot stronger opponent.”
After the UTSA game, senior quarterback B.J. Denker said that this bye week will also help in focusing and studying the opponent — figuring out what Washington likes to do on offense and defense and how Arizona plans to exploit it.
The kinks from the first three wins should be worked out before heading into conference play and facing more challenging opponents.
The Wildcats don’t have an excuse — they had a bye week.
—Follow Scarlett McCourt @scarlettnoelani