Rich Rodriguez and his Arizona Wildcats are about to embark on their “second season” as they go through their final preparations before their Gildan New Mexico Bowl showdown against Nevada in Albuquerque on Saturday.
For the streaky ‘Cats (7-5) it’s an opportunity to flush the bad taste from their mouth following the 41-34 loss to in-state rival Arizona State back on November 23 in Tucson. Unpredictable UofA won their first three before losing three straight. Despite the loss the to ASU, the Wildcats won four of their last six.
The Mountain West Conference member Wolf Pack (7-5) present a unique challenge for the Wildcats because of their revolutionary offense.
“They’re a very physical football team who runs the ball very well,” Rodriguez told Brad Cesmat on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “The pistol offense, a lot of people have tried to copy it, but they are the originators of it. They’ve mastered it.”
Rodriguez said Nevada features a number of different formations so it’s key UofA reads their assignments properly and stay in their gaps to prevent big plays. He also believes the Wolf Pack will come ready to play on national television (ESPN) against a school in the Pac-12. Nevada beat Cal 31-24 in Berkeley in their season opener.
“They’ve held up well against anybody in the country,” Rodriguez explained to Cesmat. “Our [players] have a lot of respect for them as they should.”
This could feature plenty of points with both teams bringing in high-scoring offenses, but look for the ‘Cats to try to expose Nevada’s poor run defense behind the nation’s leading rusher in sophomore Ka’Deem Carey. The former Tucson Canyon del Oro star has tallied 1757 yards on 275 carries for a 6.4 average. He’s also scored 20 rushing touchdowns.
The Wolf Pack counter with Stefphon Jefferson who’s 1703 yards and 22 scores mirror Carey’s.
The ‘Cats look to have a decided edge at quarterback behind fifth-year senior Matt Scott who’s enjoying a breakout season completing 60% of his passes for 3238 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’s been intercepted 12 times.
Kickoff is set for shortly after 11:00AM Arizona time.