The Arizona Wildcats are trying to flip their program around, and in the process, save Rich Rodriguez’s job. Rich Rod is in the coach doghouse with every move he makes magnified. He’s been getting pressured since he ever arrived in Tucson to produce a winner. Rodriguez has an offensive system that should be able to look good in the Pac-12, but there’s been questionable decisions that I’ve seen from his quarterbacks make on the field.
It’s imperative to have an offense that can put up at least 30 points on the board in the Pac-12. There’s no way to keep up with UCLA and the USC’s of the world in this conference without an offense. Against elite teams like that, 40+ points is more like it. So, here we are and Arizona is still looking at getting better quarterback play.
Arizona has been ranked as high as the top-10, at one point, under Rodriguez tenure, which he’s held down since 2011. Instead of getting better, they’ve regressed, leading to a horrible 2016. Arizona finished out of bowl contention, finishing with a record of 3-9. The only thing they managed to do right is beat Arizona State, who was just as bad as them last season. Arizona had a chance to turn a page last week against the Houston Cougars, but couldn’t facilitate much against a Houston team that was dealing with a hurricane for the last week. Bad loss at home. Another blemish on Rich Rod’s resume.
The option game was working against Northern Arizona in Week 1, but that’s Northern Arizona. They didn’t have to pass the ball much, and only connected with three receivers for 92 yards in total. Quarterback Brandon Dawkins rushed for 89 yards, which is where he feels most comfortable. He is not a pure passer, and would rather just run the option and get by on speed alone.
Against a team that can sniff out the run, like Houston, it’s not going to work. However, against an athletically inferior team, Northern Arizona, they can run the field. UTEP is one of those athletically inferior teams Arizona can beat, but will they cover the number? Head below for our Arizona vs. UTEP pick.
Arizona Wildcats vs. UTEP Miners Betting Odds:
vs. UTEP +22.5(-100)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Arizona vs. UTEP Pick:
UTEP hasn’t won a bowl game since 1967. That’s, uh, not so good. In the last decade, they’ve been to two New Mexico Bowls but it wasn’t competitive in either. It’s kind of tough to field a competitive team when 4-5 star recruits are not considering playing at UTEP. The Miners start the year at 0-2, and are certainly looking at another year in the basement of C-USA. They lost to Oklahoma 56-7, which is to be expected, but followed it up with a 31-14 loss to Rice University. Rice was blasted away by Stanford in Australia, but UTEP didn’t manage to have much success against Rice.
To make everything worse for UTEP, starting quarterback Ryan Metz suffered a shoulder injury and will be unavailable for this matchup vs the Wildcats. Senior Zack Greenlee will fill-in for Metz. He got minimal action in 2016, passing for 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Greenlee lost the quarterback battle in camp to Metz. UTEP must ascertain a way to slow down the Arizona ground game. I don’t think it matters too much who’s at quarterback if the Wildcats are going to run wild.
Note, that UTEP are 117th in the nation in defending the run, allowing 243 yards per game. Rice should have been a game where they looked good against the run, but they didn’t do much to impress. This should be one of those games for Arizona where they can just run the option and gash the defense consistently. Against teams where the Wildcats must throw the ball, that’s where they will find issues, but not against UTEP. UTEP won’t be able to keep up with Greenlee under center. If Rodriguez can’t punch UTEP in the teeth and blow them out by more than three touchdowns and some change, he really should be thinking of packing his bags. I think he takes advantage of an athletically deficient program tonight and covers, though.
PICK: ARIZONA -22.5 (-110)