The Arizona Football program had a disappointing finish to their season with their loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. Despite their bowl defeat, the Wildcats still had a surprising 10-win season.
Our Gabe Encinas looks back at UofA’s season, examining the best players on both sides of the football, the remaining few weeks in recruiting and previews what next season will look like.
HeatWaved: Who was your MVP of the offense this season?
Gabe Encinas: Although he was plagued with injuries, Nick Wilson definitely held the offense together and took a lot of pressure off of Anu Solomon. As a true freshman and one of six 1,000 rushers in the Pac-12, while splitting carries with Terris Jones-Grigsby, he made the transition from Ka’Deem Carey seamless.
Given at least two more years at Arizona, he will be able to do great things.
HW: Who was your MVP of the defense?
GE: Scooby Wright III, hands down. He swept the awards circuit, winning the Nagurski, Lombardi and Bednarik, in elite company of Aaron Donald, Manti Te’o and Ndamukong Suh. One of the nations leader is tackles, tackles for loss and sacks, Scooby was everywhere in defense.
As a sophomore, he was the anchor for a defense that had a lot of questions coming into the season.
HW: Who/what was your biggest surprise?
GE: A lot of big surprises on both sides of the ball, but Arizona’s overall record and Pac-12 South Championship is by far the greatest surprise. In year three of the Rich Rodriguez era, most fans expected another eight win season.
With a new quarterback, no Carey and three defensive leaders headed to the NFL, this team had a lot of questions. With big wins at Oregon, at Utah and against ASU, Arizona was able to win the Pac-12 South.
HW: Who/what was your biggest disappointment?
GE: After reaching 10 wins, clinching the Pac-12 South and earning a bid to the Fiesta Bowl, the only thing left for Arizona was a Fiesta Bowl win. Boise State was in familiar territory and on the big stage, ready to prove that they can compete with the best division in college football.
An early 21-0 deficit and a lack of offense in the second half resulted in a 38-30 loss, a disappointing way to end the season.
HW: What would be your ideal way to finish off this recruiting class?
GE: The current class holds 25 commits and is ranked 34th in the nation according to 247Sports. There are a few targets that Arizona can land to help bolster the class.
Arizona might have an outside shot at four-star receiver Cordell Broadus, son of Snoop Dog and former teammate of Anu Solomon at Bishop Gorman. Aside from Broadus, Arizona is targeting a few recruits out of Warren Easton High School (New Orleans, LA).
With hybrid linebacker Kendall Franklin locked in, Arizona is also looking at his teammates: three-star linebacker Arthur McGinnis and three-star wide receiver Darrel Clark.
HW: What area does this team need to improve most in?
GE: Offensive consistency. For being so reliant on pace of play and game control, the offense was way too inconsistent throughout the season. Solomon was hurt through the second half of the season, but at times it seemed like the play calling really hindered the offense as well.
When the offense is going three-and-out, it leaves the defense out on the field struggling to make a stop.
HW: Is Solomon a lock as the starting quarterback or should he face some competition in spring camp?
GE: After his performance at the Fiesta Bowl, Solomon should not be considered a lock and for good reason. Although he was hurt for a majority of the season and he’s just a redshirt freshman, it seemed as if that excuse was used far too often.
Brandon Dawkins came into the program this year as the 14th ranked dual-threat quarterback and looks to give Solomon some healthy competition. The way the season finished for the Wildcats, it’s safe to say that many think a change at quarterback is likely to come in 2015 should Dawkins impress in the offseason.