The Arizona Wildcats have not thrown the football this season with nearly the same amount of success as they did last year.
Many attribute that to a change at quarterback, where B.J. Denker replaced a graduated Matt Scott. While Denker has been serviceable, Scott was one of the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks his lone year in head coach Rich Rodriguez’s offense.
However, another reason is the lack of a go-to receiver, which has led Arizona to rely on a group of young and unproven wideouts who have flashed some ability but have yet to find any consistency.
Austin Hill, who led Arizona with 81 receptions, 1,264 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, was supposed to be that guy, but a torn ACL in spring camp has left him on the sidelines all season.
The junior did return to practice a couple weeks ago, and was on the field for warmups prior to the team’s game against Oregon last Saturday.
So, is Hill close to making a return, possibly even Saturday against rival Arizona State?
“You know, I don’t think he’s going to play this week even though he’s getting closer and closer,” Rodriguez told Doug and Wolf Tuesday. “He’s doing more each week than he had before.”
Rodriguez is careful to point out that there is a difference in a player being cleared to practice and actually getting into a live game situation. The 6-foot-3 junior who was a semifinalist for the Biletnikioff Award last year has a lot to prove before he gets to that point.
“He hasn’t gone through any scrimmage, he hasn’t gotten hit at all,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know if mentally or physically that he’s ready to go this weekend.
“So we’ll see what happens with the bowl game.”
The Wildcats (7-4, 4-4) take on the Sun Devils (9-2, 7-1) Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., with the game being aired on the Pac-12 Networks and News-Talk 92.3 KTAR.