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Arizona Wildcats: What to expect in the second half of the season

Perhaps nothing more accurately describes the impact that coach Rich Rodriguez has had during his short time in Tucson than this:

The Arizona Wildcats are 5-1 and nationally ranked — and yet, they’ll enter the second half of the season wondering what might have been.

In Rodriguez’s third season, the Wildcats (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) have overachieved. A shocking win at No. 2 Oregon improved their record to 5-0, earning a No. 10 national ranking and some College Football Playoff discussion. But a disheartening 28-26 home loss to USC capped the first half of their season on a sour note.

With that said, Arizona could — and perhaps should — be in worse shape at this point. The Wildcats have won four games by seven or fewer points, including a home victory over Cal that required a furious fourth-quarter rally and a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass.

All things considered, the ‘Cats remain in excellent shape. They’re in the thick of a five-team Pac-12 South race. Neither Oregon nor Stanford appear on their remaining schedule. And this year’s regular-season finale against ASU will be played in the friendly confines of Arizona Stadium.

Here are five things to keep an eye on as RichRod leads the Wildcats into the second half of their schedule, beginning Saturday at Washington State.

1. Anu Solomon’s development


That’s perhaps the best word to describe UA redshirt quarterback Anu Solomon. While the 19-year-old from Las Vegas has made some mental errors — miscommunication with wide receivers, sliding before reaching the first-down marker — he has been wise beyond his years in handling the football.