Two in-state programs. Two first-year head coaches. Two teams looking ahead to what appears to be bright football futures here in Arizona.
Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils got the best of the University of Arizona in a comeback win in Tucson last month, but even with the loss things are looking good down in the Old Pueblo.
“I’m excited about what’s going on here,” head coach Rich Rodriguez told Brad Cesmat Monday on ‘Big Guy on Sports’ as the ‘Cats prepare for their New Mexico Bowl showdown Saturday against Nevada (7-5, 4-4) in Albuquerque. “We didn’t reach everything we wanted to reach our first year, but we made progress. Going forward we’re pretty excited.”
Why shouldn’t they be?
Going into the season may wondered how UofA (7-5, 4-5) would replace now Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Nick Foles and survive the rigors of conference play with an undermanned and undersized defensive front, but the Wildcats held there own notching big wins over Oklahoma State (59-28) and USC (39-36).
Like Graham at ASU, Rodriguez (recognized nationally as a solid recruiter) is hoping to make an imprint among high school coaches as he continues to build his program in Tucson.
“Certainly our base will be right here in Arizona first,” Rodriguez explained to Cesmat. “We have a lot of needs and a lot of holes. Defensively in the spring we [had] only about only half as many scholarship guys as we need to be…so we’ll be addressing that in this class. This is a good state to recruit in in the next several years, as well.”
Rich Rod said he could replace graduating fifth-year senior quarterback Matt Scott with 6’3 senior-to-be B.J. Denker who backed up Scott this year. The ‘Cats would like to sign at least one possibly two signal callers in this year’s class. He stressed he will try to sign a quarterback in every recruiting class.
Saturday’s showdown against Nevada is set to kickoff shortly after 11:00AM with television coverage on ESPN.