Five questions: Arizona Daily Star’s Daniel Berk talks Wildcats

Sitting near the top of the Pac-12 South, Arizona has quickly become the conference’s biggest surprise. On the other side of the Rose Bowl this Saturday is UCLA, arguably the conference’s biggest disappointment. Both have six wins, but the former has earned its record in far more convincing fashion than the latter. Daniel Berk from the Arizona Daily Star answered five questions about the No. 14 Wildcats.

Nearly three years in now, how has Rich Rodriguez measured up to what most Arizona fans initially expected? How much did the upset of Oregon earlier this month feel like a turning point for the program?

I think two-plus years in, he’s ahead of where most people thought he’d be. The cupboard was pretty bare when he got here other than Ka’Deem Carey, and he managed to win 16 games in two seasons and win back-to-back bowl games. I think fans were willing to be patient and let him build something, but the expectations changed and were raised going into this season after having some success the first two seasons. I think the win over Oregon was significant, but I’m not sure if it was viewed as a turning point, because Arizona has gotten some big wins like that before, but hasn’t backed them up the following weeks. So I think some fans have been waiting for a letdown game. I think a win Saturday would be more of a turning point with some of the recent struggles UA has had with UCLA. A win Saturday would also set Arizona up pretty nicely with the remainder of its schedule.

How has Rodriguez kept the Wildcats’ offense firing despite cycling through a different quarterback each year?

He’s a quarterback guru and knows how to get more out of guys at that position than most coaches in the country. Few, if any, thought B.J. Denker was a Pac-12 quarterback and he turned him into one in less than two seasons. Anu Solomon certainly had some talent coming out of Bishop Gorman High School and had other options, but the fact that he’s playing as well as he is so early in his career is both a surprise and a credit to Rodriguez and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith. Continue reading

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Eddie Vanderdoes: Huskies’ skill players than Oregon’s


UCLA defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes has already faced Oregon’s offense, currently ranked third in the country in points per game (51.7) and second in yards (596.6). He thinks Washington’s compares favorably — at least at certain positions.

“I think they have the most electric players we’ve seen this season,” the true freshman said. “I think more so than Oregon. Continue reading

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At a glance: No. 16 UCLA at Arizona

No. 16 UCLA (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) vs. Arizona (6-2, 3-2)
Location:
Arizona Stadium, Nov. 9, 7 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN (Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen, Maria Taylor)
Radio: 570 AM (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Last meeting: UCLA crushed Arizona 66-10, the most lopsided win in the all-time series. Running back Johnathan Franklin set the school’s career rushing mark with a 37-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and he Bruins’ led 42-3 at the half.

Key storylines: The Bruins haven’t won in Tucson since 2003, when they rallied back from an 11-point halftime deficit to win 24-21. Also, this happened the last time they went to the Zona Zoo. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Jim Mora talks Arizona, Ka’Deem Carey


UCLA coach Jim Mora talked a bit about Arizona’s offense Tuesday morning, pointing out the Wildcats’ effective run game. Rich Rodriguez’s spread has the team at 275.4 rushing yards per game, 12th in the country.

“You look at them as a casual observer, you see the four wide sets, you think they’re just going to sling it all over the yard,” Mora said. “Really, they just do a great job of spreading you out and running it.”

Star running back Ka’Deem Carey leads college football with 153.1 yards per game, and hasn’t been held under 100 yards since UCLA limited him to 54 last November.

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Pac-12′s Top 25 Players, Part IV

Picking up from Parts I, II and III, here are the next five in our Pac-12 top 25 countdown.

10. Morgan Breslin, USC

Originally thought of as a probable reserve, Breslin emerged when defensive end Devon Kennard lost his season to a pec injury. As a first-year starter after transferring from Diablo Valley College, Breslin notched the most tackles for loss (19.5) and sacks (13) for any Trojan since 2003. He should be just as effective a pass rusher as he moves to outside linebacker for 2013. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Cal stadium debt a ‘noose around the campus’ neck’

» Cal’s newly renovated Memorial Stadium has a marvelous press box view of the San Francisco Bay, but the price may be looming, insurmountable debt. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the school would still be short $132 million even if it sold all 2,902 seats. Stagnated at 1,857, Berkeley is now spending $300,000 a year to “professionalize” sales efforts.

The campus had originally planned to raise $270 million of the $321 million cost through ticket sales.

The whole project seemed ill-conceived from the beginning, what with the reliance on non-binding pledges. An absolute face palm of a quote from John Wilton, vice chancellor for administration and finance: “They learned a commitment is not a commitment until you have a binding document. Now we feel we’re better off.”

In other news, the Bears landed 2014 quarterback Luke Rubenzer, a Scottsdale, Ariz., product rated three stars by Rivals.com. He has generated at least one premature comparison to Russell Wilson, which is fine but does little to avert crippling debt.

» Tucson’s city prosecutor dropped domestic violence charges against Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey, who had been allegedly involved in a December incident with his then-pregnant ex-girlfriend. Carey was an All-American for the Wildcats last season, a card he won’t hesitate to use in the face of trouble.

» Former Washington State athlete and New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason wrote marvelously about his battle with ALS in a guest spot on Peter King’s MMQB. Continue reading

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