That the Arizona Wildcats are 4-0 to start their season isn’t a complete surprise — not with a non-conference schedule that appeared weak on paper and a Pac-12 opener at home against California.
However, since a 58-13 win over UNLV to begin the campaign, the Wildcats have beaten UTSA by three, Nevada by seven and California by four — the last of which required a Hail Mary on the final play of the game.
But 4-0 is 4-0, and they’ll take it.
“Well, we’ve had a little bit of fortune, of course, and there’s always some luck involved,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday. “I think our guys have believed all the way until the end, played 60 minutes the whole way and we’ve made plays when we had to.
“But we haven’t played one complete game all the way.”
Rodriguez noted that the opener was close, but since then, his team has failed to play well for an entire game.
“I told the team, well, I’m excited because if we put it all together for 60 minutes in all three phases, I said we’ve got a chance to be pretty good.”
Perhaps. Like the last time Arizona started a season 4-0, in 2010, there is an air of concern, not just because of how the team has played, but because the schedule appears to toughen up in a significant way going forward.
On Thursday, the team travels to Eugene to take on the second-ranked Oregon Ducks. Following that, they will host USC, who is also in the top 25. From there, Arizona will play on the road at Washington State and at UCLA.
As often is the case in football, though, the Wildcats will likely only go as far as their quarterback takes them. Thus far, redshirt freshman Anu Solomon has done a good-enough job, completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 1,454 yards and 13 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He’s also run for 167 yards.
There have been some bumpy moments, for sure, but Solomon’s yardage total has him 10th among FBS quarterbacks, and his 13 touchdown passes put him in a tie for 11th. In a way, his start is a microcosm of the team itself, with plenty of flash and reason for optimism, but enough concern to where you know improvement is necessary for the success to continue.
“We knew we had some pretty good wideouts, guys that could make plays in space, and frankly I think his production will be even higher as he gets more mature in the system and even becomes better,” Rodriguez said of his QB.
“But he’s an unflappable guy, and that’s the thing I’ve been most pleased with. The pressure of being in the situation hasn’t fazed him at all, and that’s why I think he’ll keep getting better.”