In anticipation of tomorrow's game with Arizona, we asked Arizona Desert Swarm's Kevin Zimmerman to tell us about his beloved Wildcats. You can also view my answers to his questions over at Arizona Desert Swarm:
1. Rich Rodriguez has obviously brought a high level offense to Tucson in very short order, and having Matt Scott fall into his lap has been a big part of that. What are Scott's strengths and weaknesses as a quarterback?
Scott has come a long way in the last few years in showing that he's a true quarterback. While he can pull it down and take off, his teammates have been pretty impressed with how much he's willing to extend the play with his legs but keep his eyes downfield to get off a throw (see the winning overtime touchdown pass in Week 1 against Toledo). He is very accurate for all the short to mid-level thrown in crossing patterns, and I think the one weakness he may have is having touch on the longball. He has very good arm strength, but in this season and two years ago (before his redshirt last year) Scott really hasn't thrown it downfield a lot.
Of course, he'll be used in the zone read plays a bit, but they're not going to give him too many carries since the Wildcats are so reliant upon him.
2. Defensively, a general lack of depth was seen as one of the most concerning issues in the offseason. After three games, have those concerns been at all alleviated, especially considering the toll that Oregon's pace takes on teams with depth issues?
When Rich Rodriguez first started working the guys out, the emphasis was simply on just that -- workouts. So far, the thin defense hasn't shown any signs of fatigue despite most of the players playing most of the snaps for two of the three games (Arizona even went to the fourth quarter against South Carolina State before emptying the bench). But against Toledo and Oklahoma State, the Wildcats and their opponents ran 182 total plays, which is the most in Arizona program history. Arizona players said after beating the Cowboys that they felt like they were wearing on OSU players. So I think against Oregon, everyone actually feels very good about the depth issue.
Injuries could make a difference of course, but especially since there's not a workhorse like LaMichael James bullying UA carry after carry, it's not as big of a concern as you might think.3. Arizona returns the entire two-deep on the offensive line, but it was a line with play that was very spotty at times last year. Elaborate on the performance of this unit thus far in the season.
They're much better this year. I think from the standpoint of pass protection they should be fine, though Matt Scott's legs compared to that of Nick Foles last year is another difference there. However, the line has struggled with consistency in the running game. One play they'll create a big hole for guys like Ka'Deem Carey and the next play the defense will stack Carey up at the line of scrimmage. They also haven't been tested this year, in my opinion. Nobody Arizona has played really did what I expect Oregon to do with linebacker and safeties coming up in the box -- the best experience there might come from UA's own 3-3-5 defense in practice. Whether the O-line will pick up the right blocks and be able to handle the speed of the Ducks just might be the key to the game.
4. Give us a brief idea of what to expect out of Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 defense.
Like Oregon's defense, it's all about confusion, mystery and speed. Many of the most successful plays in my memory came from blitzes from outside linebacker Marquis Flowers (he moved up from playing safety last year) and the hybrid players like Tra'Mayne Bondurant and Jared Tevis. Those three guys will get a lot of freedom to chase after Mariota, and that's resulted in sacks and forced throws leading to picks.
As a whole, UA's defense has been a pleasant surprise. Unlike last year, they're in the right positions and tackling very well. The corners are both underrated, and Jake Fischer is the leader at middle linebacker. Of course, all that good is pointless if De'Anthony gets loose. I'm very curious to see if Casteel has a way to handle him.
5. Who is the player that Oregon fans are not thinking about that is key to Arizona's chances at victory on Saturday.
I could say sophomore receiver Austin Hill because he's like a mini Juron Criner and quietly is in the national top 10 in receiving yards. He's big, athletic and has great hands. But to take a stab at something you might see, I think fullback/defensive lineman -- he plays both --Taimi Tutogi might be key, especially on offense. I have a feeling Rodriguez will be pulling some tricks out of his sleeve, and that would include Tutogi catching it out of the backfield. He caught a touchdown against S.C. State and I think it could be a prelude of what's to come when the Wildcats need a big play.