Our series of opponent previews rolls along with a look at Washington’s 11th game of the season — a mid-November trip to Arizona.
WASHINGTON AT ARIZONA, Saturday, Nov. 15 (Kickoff time TBA)
STADIUM: The game will be played at Arizona Stadium, an on-campus facility that seats 57,400. It also now features the Lowell-Stevens football facility, a $72.3 million operations center on the north end of the stadium that opened in August 2013, at the height of the Pac-12’s facilities spending spree.
ARIZONA LOCATION: Tucson, Ariz. (Population 526,116, as of 2013)
ENROLLMENT: 40,223, as of the 2012-13 school year
MASCOT: The Wildcats.
2013 RECORD: 8-5 (4-5 in Pac-12). The Wildcats played a cupcake nonconference schedule, easily dispatching Northern Arizona, UNLV and Texas-San Antonio before losing their first two Pac-12 games at Washington and USC. Still, Arizona started the season with a 6-2 record after victories over Colorado and California, but UA lost three of its last four games — to UCLA, Washington State and Arizona State — before taking a 42-19 victory over Boston College in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl, which is a thing.
COACH: Rich Rodriguez (16-10 in two seasons at Arizona; 91-58 in 12 seasons in FBS overall)
RETURNING STARTERS: 13 (6 on offense, 6 on defense, and one punter, according to the Pac-12 prospectus)
KEY RETURNERS: WR Nate Phillips (So.) (51 catches, 696 yards, 7 TDs in 2013); WR Samajie Grant (So.) (47 catches, 373 yards, TD); WR Austin Hill (R-Sr.) (Missed 2013 season with knee injury; 81 catches, 1,364 yards, 11 TDs in 2012); OL Mickey Baucus (R-Sr.) (38 starts at LT in three seasons); OL Fabbians Ebbele (R-Sr.) (37 starts at RT in three seasons); LB Scooby Wright (So.) (83 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, INT); DB Jared Tevis (Sr.) (83 tackles, 4 TFL, sack, INT); DL Reggie Gilbert (Sr.) (34 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks)
KEY LOSSES: RB Ka’Deem Carey (349 carries, 1,885 yards, 19 TDs); QB B.J. Denker (233-for-381 passing for 2,516 yards, 16 TDs, 7 INTs; 141 carries, 949 yards, 13 TDs); RB Daniel Jenkins (65 carries, 411 yards, TD); TE Terrence Miller (40 catches, 467 yards, TD); LB Jake Fischer (99 tackles, 3.5 TFL, sack, INT) LB Marquis Flowers (93 tackles, 11 TFL, sack, INT); DL Sione Tuihalamaka (50 tackles, 11 TFL, 5.0 sacks); DB Shaq Richardson (55 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 3 INTs); DT Tevin Hood (37 tackles, 7.5 TFL, sack)
2013 STATISTICAL RANKS: 36th in Scoring Offense (33.5 ppg); 31st in Total Offense (458.5 ypg); 97th in Passing Offense (193.5 ypg); 11th in Rushing Offense (264.9 ypg); 39th in Total Defense (24.2 ppg); 62nd in Total Defense (401.1 ypg); 70th in Passing Yards Allowed (233.2 ypg); 69th in Rushing Defense (167.8 ypg). Here is the full report.
BIGGEST 2014 PRIORITY: Some key pieces of Arizona’s offense are set. Others are far from it. The Wildcats are certainly set at receiver (they return their top two pass-catchers from 2013, plus Hill, their best receiver in 2012, and a pair of potential big-impact transfers in DaVonte’ Neal and Cayleb Jones), and along the offensive line, where four starters return. But the quarterback and running back positions remain quite unsettled. The Wildcats don’t have a player on their roster who has attempted a collegiate pass, and a bevy of similarly inexperienced running backs are in the unenviable position of trying to replace Carey, one of the nation’s best backs the past two seasons. Fifth-year senior USC transfer Jesse Scroggins, redshirt freshman Anu Solomon, third-year sophomore Texas transfer Connor Brewer and fourth-year junior LSU-then-JUCO transfer Jerrard Randall are competing to replace Denker, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in 2013 while proving a serviceable passer in Rodriguez’s ultra-fast offense. Here’s a good rundown from Anthony Gimino about where that competition stands. UA’s experience at linebacker took a hit, too, with the departures of Fischer and Flowers, and the Wildcats will also rely on new faces up front with the loss of defensive tackles Tuihalamaka and Hood.
SCHEDULE NOTES: It’s another pretty soft nonconference schedule for the Wildcats in 2014, with home games against UNLV and Nevada, and a less-than-intimidating trip to Texas-San Antonio. Arizona misses Stanford and Oregon State in Pac-12 play, but plays five conference road games, taking trips to Oregon, UCLA, Washington State, Utah and California. The opportunity exists, though, for a 4-0 start, with the three nonconference games coming first, followed by that trip to Cal.
WASHINGTON-ARIZONA ROSTER TIES: Arizona’s roster includes one Seattle product — Sir Thomas Jackson III, a fourth-year junior linebacker who attended O’Dea High School. Bellevue High School DT Marcus Griffin is part of the Wildcats’ incoming freshmen class. And you’ll surely recognize the name of Trey Griffey, the oldest son of former Seattle Mariners star Ken Griffey Jr. Washington’s roster lists four players who played high-school ball in the state of Arizona — DE Marcus Farria (Peoria), WR Taleon Parson (Gilbert), WR Kendyl Taylor (Chandler) and LS Ryan Masel (Phoenix). Also, Arizona offensive line coach Jim Michalczik was a UW employee for about two months when Steve Sarkisian was first hired in December of 2008 — Sarkisian hired him away from California to coach the offensive line — but Michalczik wound up leaving to serve under Tom Cable as the offensive line coach of the Oakland Raiders.
UW-ARIZONA HISTORY: Washington leads the all-time series, 19-10-1. The Huskies won last season’s rain-drenched meeting 31-13 at Husky Stadium. UW’s last trip to Arizona Stadium in 2012 resulted in a 52-17 defeat, and the Huskies haven’t won in Tucson since Isaiah Stanback and Scott White keyed a 21-10 victory in 2006.
ARIZONA’S BEST SEASON: Arizona has never won a national championship or played in a Rose Bowl. Its best record came in 1998, when the Wildcats’ lone blemish was a 52-28 defeat against UCLA — the eventual Pac-10 champions — en route to a school-best 12-1 record and a 23-20 victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Arizona finished that season ranked No. 4 in both major national polls.
WORTH READING: Rodriguez cleverly used a video for charity to make a subtle recruiting pitch to five-star defensive tackle recruit Kahlil McKenzie. It didn’t work: McKenzie committed to Tennessee five days ago.
NOTABLE NON-FOOTBALL GRADS: Here’s a list put together by the Arizona Alumni Association. A few highlights: Geraldo Rivera, loud, annoying blowhard; Jerry Bruckheimer, film producer; David Foster Wallace, novelist and author of the acclaimed Infinite Jest
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple