To break down this weekend’s game we talked with our nemesis blog Arizona Desert Swarm and editor Brian J Pederson answered our questions.
Kevin Sumlin has seemed to indicate there will be a 2QB system for the Wildcats from here on out. Oregon State fans have seen firsthand what Khalil Tate can bring to the table, what can we expect from Grant Gunnell?
Grant Gunnell is much more of a pocket passer than Khalil Tate, but he has shown the willingness to run if needed. He’s much more suited for the zone read and quick RPOs but he also seems to have a better connection to Arizona’s many young receivers.
Do you think the firing of DC Marcel Yates and LB Coach John Rushing (former Beav assistant) will make a difference or is it just re-arranging the furniture on the Titanic at this point?
That’s a great analogy, especially if you imagine the players as the band continuing to play on deck. More than anything, these moves are meant to show the players they aren’t done with the season, and that they should continue to fight if they want to go to a bowl game. Not much is going to change in terms of scheme or personnel, but Chuck Cecil figures to bring a spark of energy that’s very different from Yates. It also doesn’t hurt to do this before Homecoming, with throwback jerseys from the Dick Tomey era, and ahead of a bye where these new coaches are going to be able to recruit.
How are fans feeling about Kevin Sumlin in year 2?
Not surprisingly, they’re unhappy. But these are the same fans that wanted Rich Rodriguez out despite five bowl games in six seasons. It’s a fanbase that has unrealistic expectations, usually comparing football to basketball. That being said, it was fair to expect better than 9-11 at this point in his tenure.
What players should OSU fans be aware of on both sides of the ball?
Besides the two quarterbacks, running back JJ Taylor is the most important offensive player. He missed a few games because of injury and the drop in production was noticeable, though Arizona tries to split carries with five backs. The receivers are almost all young, but they’re very promising, with converted QB Jamarye Joiner, speedster Tayvian Cunningham and physical pass-catcher Brian Casteel the top targets.
Defensively, everything revolves around linebackers Colin Schooler, Tony Fields II and Anthony Pandy. They have to do a lot because the defensive line can’t get pressure at all. Jace Whittaker and Lorenzo Burns are solid corners but they can’t cover forever.
If you could take anyone off the OSU roster and add it to Arizona’s who would you take?
Considering he has more sacks than the entire Arizona team, Hamilcar Rashed Jr. would look great in red and blue. Same with Isaiah Hodgins, who has also twice as many catches as any Wildcat.
Anything short of a track meet will be a huge surprise. The defensive changes for Arizona may result in a few highlight-reel plays but otherwise will still give up a lot of yards and points. As long as the Wildcats don’t turn it over too much they’ll win and keep hope alive for bowl eligibility.