The Rich Rodriguez era in Tucson is fully underway and all eyes will be on him and the read-option offense this weekend as the Arizona Wildcats play their annual Spring Game. With Arizona Stadium currently undergoing massive reconstruction, the team will head south to Kino Stadium to play their final scrimmage before summer workouts begin.
What should fans watch for? The game is expected to be pretty sloppy -- coach Rodriguez has emphasized numerous times that the first year or practices are always the roughest -- but there are some key story lines to keep an eye on.
Matt Scott and the quarterback situation:
Scott, who redshirted last season as a senior, is the unquestioned starting quarterback for Arizona. Capable of beating defenses with both his arm and legs, he appears to be a perfect fit for the new offensive system. He has just one year left of eligibility, though, and there are few viable options to be his backup should he get hurt.
The UA brought in two junior college transfers in the way of B.J. Denker and Alex Cappellini in the last few months to help bolster the roster. Wide receiver Richard Morrison was converted to QB, and they welcomed in local Tucson prospect Tyler D'Amore as a walk-on. Freshmen Javelle Allen and Josh Kern will not be playing on Saturday, but they will also factor heavily in the depth chart.
Still, though, the main guy to keep an eye on at the Spring Game has to be Matt Scott. His performance will dictate how far the Wildcats can go in 2012.
The running back competition:
The UA figures to have a pretty deep core of running backs next year. Sophomore-to-be Kadeem Carey impressed everyone in his debut season, showing flashes of why he was so highly regarded out of high school. Many feel he could be primed for a breakout year and should thrive in the read-option offense.
Daniel Jenkins has struggled to stay healthy during his career at UA and is already nursing a hamstring injury, but he has the potential to create a strong 1-2 punch along with Carey. Greg Nwoko missed all of the 2011 season with injury, but he has reportedly looked great in practice and has the size to dominate around the goal line.
The 3-3-5 defense:
Other than a position or two, most jobs are up for grabs on defense. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is employing his trademark 3-3-5 "odd stack" defense, something that will take some time to learn for the current crop of defensive players. This will be the first look for many fans at the new defensive scheme, so you can bet the defense will probably look pretty sloppy for much of Saturday.
The game is set to begin at 1 p.m. Fans are encouraged to come out early and stay after to meet the team and coaches.