The Wildcats came oh so close to going to their first Rose Bowl last season. A let down at home during the closing minutes against Oregon sent Arizona to the Holiday Bowl where they were summarily thumped by Nebraska 33-0. That isn't the way the Wildcats expected to go out. Insiders say that they never recovered from that last second loss to Oregon.
Washington beat Arizona in the last seconds at home last year too. You would have to go back to the 1975 Apple Cup to find a more improbable ending to a game. This year Arizona gets the Huskies at home and on paper this seems to be a more evenly matched game than last year. UA was hit pretty good by graduation this past season so I think the gap has closed between the two programs.
The Wildcats had a high-flying offense last season, averaging 407.5 yards and 29.7 points per game. Junior Quarterback Nick Foles took over the starting job after transferring to Arizona from Michigan State. He threw for 2,486 yards and 19 touchdowns in ten games. He completed 260 of 410 pass attempts and threw nine picks.
Matt Scott who started a bit last season made a move for the starting job this spring. Foles went into a fade late last season and they came out about even after spring practice.
Senior Nic Grigsby and Junior Keola Antolin return at running back. Grigsby when healthy is one of the better backs in the conference but the injury bug has limited his effectiveness. Antolin has filled in nicely and they will split time so the load isn't completely on Grigsby.
Juron Criner returns at wide receiver after catching 45 passes for 582 yards, nine touchdowns, and an average of 12.9 yards per reception. The team loses Terrell Turner to graduation and senior Delashaun Dean to a weapons charge.
On the line the Wildcats bring back Sr C Colin Baxter and Sr T Adam Grant, who were named All-Pac 10 last season. OG Conan Amituanai 6-4 335 and OG Vaughn Dotsy Jr. 6-5 335 provide serious size in the interior.
On defense the Wildcats only return four starters. The defensive line looks pretty stout and features Sr DE's Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore leading the way. Sr D’Aundre Reed and Jr Apaiata Tuihalamaka round out the group which should be among the Pac 10's best however Arizona is starting all over at linebacker.
Arizona has a strong secondary, and should be set in the defensive backfield. Cornerback Trevin Wade had five interceptions and 71 tackles last season. Strong safety Robert Golden added two picks and 41 tackles.
Washington vs Arizona
Washington upset the Wildcats in Husky Stadium with a furious and unlikely fourth quarter comeback last season. To me Arizona was the better team last season regardless of the outcome.
This year Washington holds a definite edge even though this one will be played in Tucson. Nobody loses more in the Pac 10 to graduation than the Wildcats.
If Washington can cover the short passing game better and stuff the run they should be able to pick up a win on the road.