PRO: Time for a youth movement
Barring some sort of miracle — a miracle that Arizona has looked totally incapable of pulling off — the Wildcats aren’t going bowling this year. Not the Rose Bowl. Not the Las Vegas Bowl. Not the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
But even though wins are next to impossible to come by, there’s one thing that can make a miserable 2011 season worthwhile, and that’s finding out which young players are going to be able to produce in 2012 and beyond.
It’s time to get Austin Hill a few extra snaps per game. We know he can play, but let him make mistakes and learn from them now, instead of next year when there’s a lot more on the line.
Get Richard Morrison and Garic Wharton on the field a little more. Let them learn how to use their athleticism at this level.
Get defensive ends Dan Pettinato and Lamar De Rego into the game. They can get experience for next year too. And it won’t hurt anything; their production can’t be any lower than C.J. Parish and Mohammed Usman’s.
Nothing good comes from sticking with the same lineups that have produced loss after loss, especially in a season that’s spiraling further down the drain with each week that goes by.
It’s not time to completely give up on 2011, but it’s time to turn an eye to 2012, especially now that Mike Stoops is no longer the head coach. Let the guys that are going to contribute next year get the mistakes out of their systems now.
That’s the sort of thing that helps a program gain stability. You know, the kind of thing that keeps a program from starting 1-5 just a year after starting the season with realistic Rose Bowl aspirations.
— Alex Williams is the assistant sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CON: Veterans are owed shot at redemption
Arizona’s veterans earned starting positions to begin the 2011 football season. For Wildcats like Derek Earls, C.J. Parish and Mohammed Usman, this season is theirs to own.
So no matter what bleak outlook anyone might have about how successful this Arizona team might be for the second half of this year under interim head coach Tim Kish, those seniors and juniors might as well have a shot at redemption in what appears to be a lost season.
Of course, this team might be tempted to give looks at some young guns across the roster now that former head coach Mike Stoops is gone. Development and experience, after all, could make next year’s team all that much better.
Or will it?
Look at it this way. The seniors listed on the depth charts — even the ones on a defense that’s among the worst in the country — are starting because they earned their way. Guys like Parish and Usman, despite their poor production, must be practicing better than the fresh talents of players. Right?
Stoops and his coaching staff must have thought so. Otherwise they wouldn’t have stuck with them this deep into the year.
In the name of dignity, give the guys who have struggled a shot to redeem themselves. Play out this year as if the Wildcats still expect to get to the Rose Bowl. (How silly of a thought is that looking right now?)
It’s a one-game-at-a-time approach that’s necessary to fix, well, nearly everything.
But throwing in freshmen off the bench just to get game experience won’t help all that much down the road if they’re not ready — if they’re unprepared, it might just beat them down mentally.
Kish can use the first-half failure as a teaching tool in the veterans’ case.
The lesson would teach them not to second-guess their own decisions. Stick to your guns, get back up after defeat, and at the end of the day, at least you went down swinging.
_— Kevin Zimmerman is the sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.