Aug 30, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez on the sidelines during the second quarter against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Washington vs. Arizona: Q&A With Zona Zealots

Sep 14, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback B.J. Denker (7) sings the Arizona fight song Bear Down after the fourth quarter against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats defeated the Roadrunners 38-13. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The editor of Fansided’s Arizona Wildcats site, Zona Zealots, Justin Sayers, was nice enough to answer a few questions about the team and its chances against Washington this Saturday.

Husky Haul: Should we take Arizona’s 3-0 record with a grain of salt?

Zona Zealots: The easy answer is yes. UNLV is one of the worst teams in the FBS, while NAU isn’t ranked in the FCS. The UTSA win might look a lot better as the season goes on, but it’s nothing like a victory over a team from a BCS-conference. However, schedule aside, there has been a lot to be excited about. The running game ranks as on the five-best in the country, the offense has only turned the ball over twice and the defense has done a complete 180 from where they were a year ago. There is a lot of talent on this team, but we’ve yet to been able to gauge how good they actually are.

HH: How are the Wildcats going to respond when the Huskies stack the box to defend Ka’Deem Carey?

ZZ: If the Huskies do choose to commit the front-seven to the run, it’ll become a matchup between an underrated Arizona offensive line and the Huskies defense. The line has blocked the way for 322.3 yards per game, while allowing only three sacks. They’ve also yet to be called for a holding penalty. Meanwhile, Ka’deem Carey is an absolute beast, as he’s rushed for 1,213 yards and 14 touchdowns over his last six games, while B.J. Denker has ran for 30-plus yard touchdown runs in each of the first three games. I think the Wildcats would be more surprised if the Huskies didn’t stack the box, so I don’t expect this to be a problem.

HH: Is the defense (8.7 PPG) for real?

ZZ: I would be surprised if the Wildcats continue to yield only 8.7 points per game in the offensively-minded Pac-12. But I’d also be surprised if the Wildcats don’t finish with one of the better defenses in the conference. The Wildcats struggled last year with getting to the quarterback, ranking 108th in the nation with 1.23 sacks per game. In Year 2 in Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 defense, they seem to have fixed this issue, recording six sacks and forcing eight turnovers in the first three games. The Wildcats have the ideal personnel to the run the unorthodox defense and should continue to thrive in it.

HH: Most people are picking the Huskies to win; what do the Wildcats need to do to pull out a victory?

ZZ: I think that the Wildcats season will all depend on quarterback B.J. Denker. We know he can run, but he needs to show a lot more with his arm in order for the offense to be successful. With that being said, this does not necessarily mean he needs to have a big game through the air in order for Arizona to win. If he makes the right reads and does not turn the ball over, his confidence, running ability and leadership will keep the Wildcats in ball games. If he plays above expectations, the Wildcats may sneak a few wins.

HH: Finally, give us your prediction.

ZZ: Wildcats fans shouldn’t feel too optimistic about this one. Washington is a very talented football team in a very hostile environment, which makes it difficult for any caliber of team to come in Seattle and pull off a victory. Also considering the fact that it’s B.J. Denker’s first career Pac-12 road start, you don’t exactly have a formula for an upset. I think that it’ll be a blowout with the Wildcats scoring a late touchdown to make the score respectable: Washington 35, Arizona 21.

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