With a non-conference loss, and two Pac Ten losses, the Arizona Wildcats are in the midst of their worst season of 2011 when they lost four games.  Though that season taught the team a lot about growth, and learning, it also started the record Pac Ten winning streak that saw two classes never once suffer a conference loss.haynesucla2016.jpg

But the tough season this year has led to some questions about what makes a great team, and why can we point to the 2015/2016 Wildcats as National Champions, what made them great? and why is this team struggling so much?

The easy answer is one man, Redwood Haynes.  When you play this game, you cannot underestimate what it means to have a player who does not have a bad game.  Someone you can hand it off to on 3rd and 6 and he’ll make it happen.  But Redwood was so special because he never got tired, he was always fresh, always breaking tackles, always giving 110%.  He was the reason behind the titles.chadrose2014.jpg

Along those lines, you cannot underestimate a proven offensive superstar – guys like Jason Weaver and Justin Abdullah made the game a lot easier.  They were clutch on 3rd and 4th down.   But while they were game breaking, since they were dependent upon the QB, there were times when they could be shut down.

And finally, does a great quarterback really mean all that much? Two national titles with consistent underperformer Casey Cook, and a solid season under converted Athlete Chad Smith show that it might not be as essential as you think.  This year, with Brent Robinson – a purebred QB from New Jersey, the Wildcats have struggled.  2012 featured Dane Wright having the greatest season ever by a Wildcat Quarterback, and while they were a national title calibre team, they could not pull it off.  What makes Dane, Casey, and Chad great was their ability to scramble, and while occassionally it would lead to sacks, just forcing a defense to spy on 3rd and 5 meant that a TE could open up, or if they didn’t spy you could run for those yards.  The immobile Brent Robinson has stretched the field and spread the ball, but when he is off, he has no alternative.

weaverasu2014.jpgAnd finally, never ever underestimate a defense.  The Arizona squads of 2015/2016 featured experience linebackers, and a deep secondary that did an incredible job of forcing turnovers.  And while 2017 has a lot of future stars at LB (Quinn Scott) and current legends at DE (Nick Robinson), they are very weak in the secondary and have struggled greatly to have safeties come up and stop the QB.

And then there are in the intangibles, the X-factors: team chemistry.  Robinson is a leader, not so much because he feels the need, but because he feels like he’s supposed to be.  Redwood was a leader, the team would follow him into hell.

And so this looks to be a rough year for thecooktoweaversjsu2014.jpg Wildcats,  and they cannot take any games for granted.  They need  to win out to make a bowl game, and Arizona State sits undefeated at #10 – a win there and the Wildcat faithful can still call this season a success because they ruined someone else’s season.  Much like they ruined their own.