Sept 24, 2011; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Dan Buckner (15) runs with the ball after a reception in the first quarter of a game against the Oregon Ducks at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: Arizona Wildcats (Part 1: Offense)

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The 2011 football season was a miserable season for the Arizona Wildcats. Arizona finished with an overall record of 4-8 and a conference record of 2-7 (last in the Pac-12 South). The Wildcats look to improve their record in 2012 with their newest addition at head coach. In November 2011, Arizona hired Rich Rodriguez as their 30th head coach in school history. They will also look to improve their record with big televised games in 2012. Some of these games include: Oklahoma State (Pac-12 Network), South Carolina State (Pac-12 Network), Oregon (ABC), and Arizona State (ESPN) on big networks this season.

Even though they finished last in their division, the Arizona offense was consistent last year. Here’s a look at the averages they had per game and their rankings compared to the other schools in Division I:

  • Total: 465.3 yards (16th overall)
  • Passing: 386.1 yards (3rd overall)
  • Rushing: 94.5 yards (114th overall)

There will be a lot of replacing being done on the offense this season for the Wildcats. They will be losing their leaders in passing yards, rushing yards, and receiving yards. Despite all the losses for Arizona on offense, some are greater than others and the biggest losses come at the wide receiver position.

Going into the 2012 season, the Arizona Wildcats will need to replace their top three receivers from 2011. All of their top three wide receivers went to the NFL as Juron Criner was drafted 168th overall by the Oakland Raiders, David Douglas signed with the New York Giants, and Gino Crump signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Juron Criner was the number one wide receiver for the Wildcats in 2011 with 956 receiving yards on 75 receptions. He also caught eleven touchdowns last season.

The best prediction for who would replace Criner on the Arizona depth chart would be Dan Buckner (senior). Buckner had the fourth most receiving yards for the Wildcats last season. In 2011, Buckner had 606 receiving yards on 43 reception and had two touchdowns (one being a 54-yard touchdown reception). Buckner will be entering his second season with Arizona and his last year of eligibility. He played two season with the Texas Longhorns in 2008 and 2009 before transferring to Arizona in 2010 (redshirt for Arizona in 2010).

Another loss for Arizona’s offense comes at the quarterback position. The Wildcats lost both their starting and back-up quarterbacks this off-season as Nick Foles was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round of the NFL Draft and Bryson Beirne to graduation. Foles played three years at Arizona after transferring from Michigan State in 2008 (redshirted in 2008). In 2011, he threw for 4,334 yards with a completion percentage of 69.1% and had 28 passing touchdowns.

The most logical replacement for Nick Foles is Matt Scott. Matt Scott is a fifth year senior for the Arizona Wildcats. He was the back-up to Nick Foles in 2010, but he redshirted in 2011. While backing up Foles in 2010, Scott had 776 yards with a completion percentage of 71%. He also threw four touchdowns and two interceptions. Scott will most likely be the favorite going into camp, but their will be at least six other quarterbacks trying to make their own case.

Arizona will also need to find a replacement for the leading rusher in 2011, Keola Antolin.

For more stories on Arizona, check out Zona Zealots.

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Tags: Arizona Arizona Wildcats Bryson Beirne Dan Buckner David Douglas Gino Crump Juron Criner Keola Antolin Matt Scott Nick Foles Offense Pac-12 Pac-12 Conference Poular Rich Rodriguez

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