Know your foe: Five questions with Tucson Citizen beat writer Anthony Gimino
Each week, I’ll check in with the beat writer who covers Oklahoma State’s opponent to get some perspective on the game from the other side.
Anthony Gimino covers Arizona for the Tucson Citizen. Here’s our exchange:
Gina Mizell: How much has the start of the Rich Rodriguez era revitalized this Arizona fan base?
Anthony Gimino: Rich Rodriguez is a different kind of cat than former coach Mike Stoops, at ease in all the offseason functions and press-the-flesh opportunities. Rodriguez can really work a room with his storytelling ability and, as he might say himself, his hillbilly charm. So, in that sense, he is connecting with fans and stirring up enthusiasm in ways Stoops didn’t.
Rodriguez has been slow-playing expectations, though, and he has a far more-patient fan base here than he did at Michigan. While there is optimism that the longer-term future at Arizona looks bright, as Rodriguez builds off Stoops’ foundation, initial excitement is somewhat tempered by the realization that there are no shortcuts when putting in new schemes on both sides of the ball and giving the roster an overhaul.
GM: It seems like Matt Scott is the perfect guy to run this offense. What makes him so effective as a dual-threat quarterback? What about the playmakers around him? Keola Antolin and Juron Criner are gone, but it seems like Ka’Deem Carey and Austin Hill and Dan Buckner are ready to take a step forward.
AG: Rodriguez’s read-option offense is a perfect fit for Scott, who ran a version of this attack in high school and has allowed Arizona to move quickly along the learning curve, something that didn’t happen in Rodriguez’s first year at Michigan because he didn’t have the right quarterbacks. Having been trained in a passing spread for the past four years, Scott is a better passer than the typical Rodriguez quarterback. Rodriguez, through his stops at West Virginia and Michigan, ran the ball two-thirds of the time. The split at Arizona will be more 50-50, and it actually skewed toward the pass in the opener.
There are several good skill players on offense, including sophomore RB Ka’Deem Carey, a local kid who was the gem of Stoops’ 2011 recruiting class. He’s a tough runner who is definitely fast enough. Backup Daniel Jenkins is shifty and a potential big-play back, too. The receiving corps has been remade from what Oklahoma State has seen in the past couple of seasons, with Dan Buckner and Terrence Miller each providing 6-4 targets on the outside. Austin Hill is the guy who had a big game vs. the Cowboys last season in Juron Criner’s absence, and he opened with 139 receiving yards this season in an expanded role. Slot receiver Richard Morrison will be trying to shake off a rough game in which he dropped a touchdown pass and lost a fumble.
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