The U of A Wildcats have had a pretty depressing year in the PAC-12 division. They haven’t won a game this entire season against an opposing team in their division and have only won 2 games against opponents outside of their division. While the expectations were set pretty low this year for the Wildcats, they still managed to come up short of what was considered a conservative outlook on their 2016 season. They don’t have any chance to make a bowl game this year but you can bet they’re looking forward to stomping out their rivals during the last game of the season, the ASU Sun Devils.
So what happened to the Wildcats this season? The short version of the story is that they were plagued by injuries that included some of their star players. The coaching wasn’t to blame as much as the poor performances by their second string team that was asked to come in and fill some big shoes and fill the void that the injuries left them with. Although the Wildcats aren’t known for being a powerhouse in the PAC-12 football league, they still thought they could build a solid foundation to build upon next year.
Instead of writing this season off and throwing it in the trash, the Wildcats can walk away knowing that their starters for next season definitely got a lot more real time game experience than they were expecting. In the past, the teams that had their second string team in the game more often usually performs at a much better level in the next season. It’s hard for a player to come into a new season that has been sitting on the bench for their entire career at a school and play well. The emotions and adrenaline that pumps through your veins at the beginning of a game can be very hard to manage unless you have a psychological coach of you’ve been there before and know what it takes to use that energy in an effective way.
If I were the coach of the Wildcats, I wouldn’t be scared of losing my job. The decision makers have to understand that it wasn’t completely their fault and most of their poor performance can be blamed on the injuries their team suffered. While I’m not one to make excuses for other on a consistent basis, I would say their coaching staff should get somewhat of a free pass this year. We’ve seen this type of season happen with the New England Patriots in the past when they were still being coached by Bill Belichick. He’s certainly a hall of fame coach but didn’t make the playoffs one year when their team suffered from more injuries than any other year in the history of the team! If the Wildcats are smart, they’ll take the positives of this season and run with it in hopes of earning their spot in a bowl game in their 2017 season.