Preface: This Week 2 matchup is horribly frustrating before even diving into the teams. The time and place of the game should piss every Wildcat fan off, unless that fan is an actual owl and therefore nocturnal. Houston, Texas is a disgusting place weather-wise in September, and playing a game at nine in the morning is bizarre. Furthermore, don’t tell me that the Houston humidity isn’t worse than Tucson. After all, it’s a dry heat. In conclusion, I blame the Pac-12 for sucking and Larry Scott should be fired. End rant.
Let’s think back to last year’s Houston matchup. There were multiple positives. First off, Arizona Athletics and the Tucson community came together to donate truck fulls of supplies for the hurricane relief.
Additionally, it was the first time we got a glimpse of the one and only Khalil Tate against a FBS team (sorry NAU). He took over for Brandon Dawkins a possession into the fourth quarter after Dawkins proved unable to gain a first down. Tate took over with a six point deficit and a defense that had been holding their ground, then moved the chains on the third play of his possession, showcasing his running ability with a ten yard rush. Then, after a holding penalty, he extended a play by scrambling to the sideline and, rather than throwing the ball away, per what Wildcat fans were used to, he found Cedric Peterson on the sideline for a 14 yard pickup. It was obvious that Tate had the skills to win the game. However, after he threw an interception, Dawkins was put back in the game and gained three yards on four plays. Typical.
That game ended 19-16 with Houston on top. Both point totals were their team’s respective season lows.
This year should be different. There’s going to be a lot of scoring. Like, a LOT.
Both Arizona and Houston feature new starting quarterbacks from last year’s game, and both are two dimensional. Houston’s starting QB, D’Eriq King, didn’t play the first three games of the season but still ended up throwing for 991 yards, rushing for 341 yards, and had 264 receiving yards. Did I say two dimensional? This kid can do it all. And at 5’11”, 190 lbs., that scares me. He’ll be a great test for Arizona’s defense.
Furthermore, Arizona’s offensive efficiency should increase. Arizona ran seven more plays than Houston last year but had both lower yards per rush and yards per pass attempt. Their offense this year, meanwhile, will be fast and vertical. Tate won’t be throwing many dink-and-dunk passes, except to set up explosive mid- and long-range throws. Additionally, the traditional short yardage downs will be when Tate breaks away for 40+ yards.
Neither team will play to their fullest potential, but both will be aggressive. There are going to be a bunch of turnovers, 40+ yard plays, miscommunications in the defensive secondary and blown assignments in the trenches. After playing a bland yet dominant game against BYU, this will be the game that we truly see what Arizona’s identity is.
Final score: Arizona 48 – Houston 45 (Editor’s note: Now THAT’S the Pac-12 defense we know and love.)
Our first question comes from Logan J. He writes,
Good Afternoon Mr. Cohen!
I just came across your article on Tate. I was curious how you think he’ll do under Sumlin and the new OC, and how different the offense might look this year pace wise? Any info is greatly appreciated, thanks for your great coverage!
Thanks, Logan! The offense last year didn’t seem to be run with any sense of direction or purpose. This year, Kevin Sumlin and OC Noel Mazzone will have the offense playing with direction, although I don’t know if that’ll mean that the offense will speed up. I think that Sumlin and Mazzone especially will have Tate change speeds to keep defenses honest and uncomfortable. Regardless, we won’t see the uncertainty from the offense that we did last year. And for the record, that’s all on RichRod.
The second question comes from @UniversityFour on Twitter:
do you think arizona is under ranked going into next season? both football and basketball?
— University-4 (@UniversityFour) June 17, 2018
Let’s look at football first. Notorious Arizona nemesis Mark Schlabach left Arizona out of his Way-Too-Early Top 25, but, also Deandre Ayton apparently took $100,000 to play at Arizona, so, screw that guy! Despite that, Arizona isn’t in CBS’s poll, Sports Illustrated’s poll, or Athlon’s poll. I don’t think Arizona is too far from being in the AP Top 25, especially if Sumlin can pull off an upset against Houston. Arizona should have a pretty good shot at winning the Pac-12 South, so I think that, while the ‘Cats don’t deserve to be in the Top 25 because they’re unproven, they will end up in the Top 25 by the beginning of conference play. So to answer half your question, yes, football is ‘under-ranked.’
Now for men’s basketball. This one’s really hard. Everyone is focused on what Arizona is losing, not what they’re bringing in. Let’s remember that Miller is bringing in three 4 star recruits, a heady point guard in Justin Coleman, a strong forward and another Pittsburgh guy in Ryan Luther, and Chase Jeter will be eligible to play. Add those six players with Arizona’s returnees — Dylan Smith, Brandon Randolph, Ira Lee, Alex Barcello, and Emmanuel Akot- and you’ve got a more than suitable lineup that isn’t getting the attention it deserves. After laying an absolute egg last season, Miller has done a great job at preparing for this upcoming one.
I think the men’s basketball team is under-ranked. They should be ranked 22-25 in these polls because this lineup is dangerous. They’re simply penalized for Miller’s seeming incompetence on the sideline. Not even kidding, this roster is really athletic and long, and would play well in a zone to compensate for not having a true center. PLAY A DAMN ZONE SEAN. (Editor’s note: Wait do you think Miller should run a zone?)