TUCSON, Ariz. — Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green’s rant at a 2006 press conference earned a spot in the pantheon of famous sports quotes: “The Bears are who we thought they were!”
It appears we almost always feel like we can judge how good teams are, starting with the preseason conference and national rankings. So when one team upsets another, it is based on our perception of who was supposed to win.
Arizona opened the season with three blowouts. But did we learn anything, other than that Tucson and the ZonaZoo don’t like “gimme” games?
“We can only play who is in front of us,” senior quarterback B.J. Denker said. “Obviously, we were expected to win these games but we still had to come and play. Now we are ready to get in to Pac-12 play.”
It’s fun to joke about whether Pima Community College could beat UNLV, or that Arizona opened the season with four bye weeks, but do the Wildcats’ wins over those teams tell us there’s improvement?
Against UTSA, Denker threw for a career high 158 passing yards, just 10 less than his total yardage through the air in both the NAU and UNLV games. So were the concerns over Denker’s throwing ability overblown?
After an unimpressive showing last year, the UA defense already has six interceptions in the 2013 season, compared to 12 over 13 games in 2012. Does this mean the Desert Swarm is back?
“This was a better team this week compared to UNLV,” junior running back Ka’Deem Carey said after the UTSA game. “I feel like our schedule is getting tougher and tougher, but that was a good squad out there. They came out, they were ready to hit and they didn’t back down. I felt like it was a good game for us to get ready for Washington.”
ASU came into the season as a favorite to win the Pac-12 South. The hype was based on going 8-5 last year and a large number of returning starters this season, but their only win over a decent team in 2012 was over an 8-5 UA squad.
ASU was gifted a win over then No. 20 Wisconsin last week — aided by officiating that was, at best, inept, but they tested themselves and showed that they can play against a ranked team.
The UA is just outside the top 25 in both polls, 32nd in both, so maybe they’re good? The answer to those questions is, of course, “who knows?” We don’t have enough information.
Arizona’s victims were basically FCS teams. NAU literally plays in the lower division, UNLV is a program in shambles, which lost to NAU last year and had the look of a team that hasn’t improved, and the UTSA program is in its third year.
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said the line between BCS teams and mid-majors is blurring, as is the line between FBS and FCS. Still, it is very much there.
NAU, UNLV and UTSA are all at least a step below Arizona. Now it’s time for the Wildcats to face more recognized football programs.
Are the Wildcats good or did they look good because they faced light competition? What did we learn from Arizona’s non-conference schedule about their 2013 squad?
Nothing, except that they can easily beat teams below their caliber.
•This story was courtesy of the Arizona Daily Wildcat.