The Arizona Wildcats head into this season in a world of hurt.
Quarterback B.J. Denker played his final season with the Wildcats in 2013, while Carey took his talents to the NFL. Those two players accounted for 48 total touchdowns, which is a lot of scoring that this team will miss.
The Wildcats will start the season off in a deceivingly strong way, but once Pac-12 competition begins, the team’s losses will make a negative impact quickly.
8/29 vs. UNLV: WIN
This matchup could feature two new quarterbacks for both teams. Blake Decker, who transferred to UNLV from Scottsdale Community College, could surpass Nick Sherry for the starting job. Meanwhile, the Wildcats need to find a suitable starter to replace Decker, and that could be Jesse Scroggins, a redshirt senior who did not beat out Decker for the starting role last season. Running the football will be important for the Wildcats in this one, just as it was in last season’s matchup. The Wildcats might rely on redshirt junior Jared Baker to lead the charge. If he can score at least once, and if Scroggins can mix some scrambles with his passes, the Wildcats will prevail.
9/4 at UTSA: WIN
The Wildcats blew out the Roadrunners last season, once again because of their rushing attack. Baker could receive even more action in this one simply because of his veteran experience. Early on in the season, the Wildcats will need to define their identity as either a passing or running team, or as a defensive squad. This game will be a winnable test for Scroggins, Baker and the new-look Wildcats.
9/13 vs. Nevada: WIN
Nevada senior quarterback Cody Fajardo does not turn the ball over often, as he threw for 13 touchdowns compared to only three interceptions last season. However, he could have some extra pressure in this game as he will likely have to focus on defensive end Jordan Allen, who just transferred to Arizona from LSU. Allen had 16 tackles and two sacks last season. The Wildcats also will have the services of senior Tra’Mayne Bondurant, who led the team last season with four interceptions. Arizona’s defense will take over in this one and bring them to a 3-0 start.
9/20 vs. California: LOSS
While the Wildcats’ pass defense is strong, their rushing defense is mediocre. They finished seventh in the Pac-12 last season when defending the run, and allowed over four yards per carry. If California running back Khalfani Muhammad and quarterback Jared Goff can follow up the strong performances they delivered in their freshman seasons, the two will give the Golden Bears an offense that is balanced enough to overcome the Wildcats.
10/2 at Oregon: LOSS
During this transition period, strong teams like Oregon that have begun to build Pac-12 dynasty rosters will be too much for the Wildcats. Once a new recruiting class develops for Arizona, it will be a formidable opponent, but not right now.
10/11 vs. USC: LOSS
USC looks too talented this year as well. The Trojans have a reliable running game, with Javorius Allen, Tre Madden and Justin Davis to run at opposing defenses. They are led by a veteran quarterback in Cody Kessler, and pose a defensive threat to back up their offense. Too many weapons on the Trojans’ roster will spell defeat for the Wildcats.
10/25 at Washington State: LOSS
The Cougars will be on a hot streak at this point in their season, and the Wildcats without Denker at the helm, the younger WSU secondary won’t pose much of a problem. The Cougars also have plenty of veterans returning as well, such as linebackers Jeremiah Allison and Darryl Monroe, nose tackle Kalafitoni Pole, and defensive lineman Xavier Cooper.
11/1 at UCLA: LOSS
A road battle against a team with a dual-threat quarterback in Brett Hundley seems like a circumstance difficult enough for this reeling Arizona squad. Even though one man doesn’t make a team, the Bruins also were third in the Pac-12 last season in pass defense, which seems to be the only outlet the Wildcats have for scoring. Being stymied on the offensive side of the ball and then having to face Hundley on defense will be exhausting.
11/8 vs. Colorado: LOSS
Carey ran for four touchdowns last season against Colorado, but with his legs missing from the roster, the Wildcats will lose to a Colorado team that normally is not good on the road.
11/15 vs. Washington: LOSS
The Huskies are in a similar boat as far as losing key players. Washington’s quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey are not on the roster anymore, but the team does have capable players to maintain the program. Three running backs, Dwayne Washington, Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier all scored touchdowns last season and can step in for Sankey. However, Denker and Carey were the two primary leaders in rushing, and barely anyone else was able to make their presence known as a possible replacement.
11/22 at Utah: LOSS
Utah has been mediocre in its first few seasons in the Pac-12 conference, but a common denominator in the past has been the team’s ability to score. Somehow, the Utes manage to put up points, and when they win, they win by lighting up the scoreboard. It doesn’t seem like it will take much to defeat the Wildcats this season, so even if this one is low-scoring, it will be yet another loss for Arizona.
11/28 vs. Arizona State: LOSS
This matchup didn’t look like much of a rivalry last season when the Sun Devils trounced the Wildcats 58-21 in Tempe. There is no reason to expect anything different this season as the Wildcats don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with the mobile Taylor Kelly and D.J. Foster. The Sun Devils had the second-best scoring offense in the Pac-12 last season, so the Wildcats will have their hands full trying to show they belong on the same field as their in-state rivals. Even worse, this loss will mean that the Wildcats will not win a single conference game this season.
Arizona 2014 Projected Record: 3-9 (0-9)