Anu Solomon was up-and-down against UTSA last season but ended up having a pretty great freshman campaign. How do you see him improving in 2015 and where do you mark his ceiling as a quarterback?
In 2015, I expect Anu’s passing numbers to improve. He had a great year last year, but he had trouble completing deep throws (the Hill Mary notwithstanding . The word from camp this year is that Anu’s arm strength and accuracy have improved so I expect him to put up even more impressive passing numbers this year.
As far as his ceiling goes, I think he has the potential to be a four year starter at Arizona and break every passing record in school history. I don't think he’ll ever be a Heisman contender and probably won’t even be the "best" quarterback in the Pac-12 in any given year, but I think that, if everything goes perfectly for him, he’ll consistently be one of the top three or four quarterbacks in the conference.
Which position unit gives you the most concern heading into the 2015 season?
The offensive line. Three starters on the line graduated last year, so Arizona was already in a little bit of trouble coming into this season. Then Carter Wood, the presumptive starting center, was injured and is out for the year, which forced Arizona to reshuffle the line only weeks before the opener, which worries me. The unit has some potential - Freddie Tagaloa, a transfer from Cal, looks particularly good - but there is not a lot of experience on the line and the unit. I’m a little worried about how they’ll play, but I’m even more worried about what will happen if someone gets hurt and they’re forced to reshuffle the line yet again.
Obviously Scooby Wright is the face of Arizona's defense but who are a couple of guys that could make a major impact against UTSA on defense?
Will Parks, for sure. You may know Will Parks as the guy Rich Rod brought to media day who compared playing at Oregon to loud milk. On the field, though, Parks brings senior leadership to the secondary, and he is a playmaker at the spur safety position, a crucial component of Arizona’s 3-3-5 defense. Expect to see him flying around the field against UTSA. You’ll also want to watch out for Reggie Gilbert. Reggie Gilbert is a fifth-year senior playing defensive end for Arizona. He’s projected to be one of the better defensive ends in the conference, and while he might not put up huge individual numbers (he had 3 sacks in 2014), he commands significant attention, which should help free up Scooby Wright to make plays on the ball.
Rich Rodriguez is one of the most innovative and dynamic coaches in college football. How do you see him changing the team's approach in 2015?
I think he’s going to be willing to rely more on the passing game in 2015. Arizona had great receivers last year and still has great receivers this year, but if Anu’s passing ability has really gotten better, Rich Rod will be better able to take advantage of that significant skill advantage. That doesn’t mean he’ll go away from the running game (Nick Wilson is too good to do that), but I expect to see an improved passing attack in 2015.
And lastly, what is your prediction for the opening contest with UTSA?
As you know, this is a bit of a rebuilding year for UTSA. Last year, Arizona played another rebuilding team - UNLV - at home. Arizona won 58 - 13. I don’t expect that Arizona will destroy UTSA as thoroughly as they destroyed UNLV, but I think Arizona puts up a lot of points and wins decisively. That said, I do think UTSA covers the 30+ point spread. 49 - 24, Arizona wins.