Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez
2013-14 Record: 8-5, 4-5 Pac-12 Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: 42-19 win over Boston College
Odds to Win National Championship: +10681
Offense: 7, Defense: 6
The Wildcats are replacing the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, and career rushing leader Ka’Deem Carey, while also looking to find someone to place under center after the graduation of quarterback BJ Denker.
Arizona will have to rely on an offensive line that returns pretty much intact—a group that helped the offense average 264.9 rushing yards per game and allow just 1.31 sacks per contest.
Rodriguez will likely have his deepest set of receivers in school history led by four sophomores, while also welcoming back senior Austin Hill, who sat out last season with a torn ACL after catching 81 passes for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012.
There’s no question that the Wildcats strength on defense will lie in the secondary, with the group ranking third in the league with 18 interceptions—returning five of those for touchdowns.
The unit must do a better job of shoring up its red zone defense, as it allowed opponents to score on 34 of 39 opportunities in 2013.
Expect a big year from Tra-Mayne Bondurant, who had five pass breakups and four interceptions during his junior year.
The Wildcats have a great opportunity of opening the 2014-15 campaign with a 4-0 record, which could provide the team a ton of confidence heading into a bye week before taking on powerhouse Oregon.
There’s no doubt that the entire season will be determined by a key stretch from Oct. 2-Nov. 1, as the team catches a bit of a breather in taking on Colorado and Washington at home the following two weeks.
The loss of Carey is huge, considering the program welcomes back just 134 rushing yards, but the defense may be able to carry the day early on.
Arizona’s defense allowed 98 fewer yards per game last year than it did in 2012, which led directly to surrendering 11.1 points per game less.
Third year defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is a familiar face for Rodriguez to rely upon, as he ran West Virginia’s stop unit from 2001-11.
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