This weekend's game between the Arizona Wildcats and South Carolina St. Bulldogs should not be close. With all due respect, the Bulldogs might be the smallest and least-known opponent to play a game in Arizona Stadium history. They are young on both sides of the ball and lost their game to Bethune-Cookman at home just six days ago.
All of this being said, there is still plenty to watch for on Saturday night. The Wildcats need to avoid becoming cocky or bigheaded, especially when there is still plenty of work to be done before Pac-12 play begins next weekend in Eugene.
Here are three key storylines to watch for.
How does backup quarterback B.J. Denker look?
Arizona's coaching staff would like nothing more than to rest Matt Scott for most of the second half, if not all of it. He took some shots against Oklahoma State and the very last thing we need is for the senior quarterback to get injured in a blowout affair. If the Wildcats take care of business early, junior quarterback B.J. Denker will likely see a lot of playing time.
This is important for multiple reasons. For one, if Scott were to get injured at any point this season, Denker would be the man for the job. He has exactly zero snaps at the Division-I level. He has earned rave reviews from the coaches during practice, but you never quite know how a player will perform under the bright lights.
Denker will also get an early audition of sorts this weekend should he play. The Wildcats with have a hole at QB next season, and Denker would enter as the frontrunner once spring practice begins. He'll get some tough competition from sophomores-to-be Javelle Allen and Josh Kern, as well as two incoming freshmen recruits, but you would imagine Denker's name will be atop the depth chart come the start of practice. He needs to prove to the coaching staff he is capable of commanding the offense and managing a game, even if it is against an inferior opponent.
How does the defensive line look?
The biggest weakness for Arizona this season has been the defensive line. This was to be expected, and the unit struggled for most of the Toledo and Oklahoma State games. There have been signs of improvement -- they finally started getting pressure in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys last week -- although they have been small ones.
The Cats should have no problem pressuring South Carolina State on Saturday night. Their offensive line is undersized, playing in a loud environment and not used to the desert heat, while UA should be well-rested and a accustomed to the late start time and high temperatures. UA can take the next step this season once their pass rush improves and that could happen tomorrow night.
Don't get injured. There isn't much more to say than that, and it's imperative that Arizona doesn't take any extra risks. The next month will be a very daunting one for RichRod and the Wildcats, with games against Oregon, Oregon St., Stanford, Washington and USC all looming. The very last thing the team needs is for an impact player to go down in a blowout game. Be smart with your tackling, don't let players battle through injuries and get the backups in as early as possible to keep everyone fresh and well rested.
I worry Arizona will come out sleeping a little bit as they shake off their big win over Oklahoma State, but I think the coaching staff will have their boys well prepared. The 'Cats blow the game open in the second quarter as they go on to win 52-17.
For more on the Wildcats, check out AZ Desert Swarm.
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