The Sports Guys: Arizona-USC review, midseason report

In this week’s edition of The Sports Guys, we review Arizona’s loss to USC and evaluate the Wildcats at midseason. Part of the discussion includes predictions of which player will emerge in the second half of the season after the bye week.

Sophomore wide receiver DaVonte’ Neal — coming off his best game (seven receptions for 65 yards, a punt return of 43 yards) — was a popular pick. True freshman cornerback Cam Denson is another possibility, especially with pass-happy Washington State up next and the need for more quality depth at the position.

Former Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer picked senior defensive end Reggie Gilbert.

"I think he’s going to get a few more sacks," Fisher said. "We play against a lot of teams that like to pass the ball. And I think now it’s time for him as a senior to kind of pin his ears back, make a better showing and just go out get after the quarterback."

Gilbert has two sacks, most among the defensive linemen in the three-man front. Linebackers, who are often added to UA’s pass-rush duties, have 11 of the team’s 15 sacks.

Fischer identified run defense and red-zone offense as his two biggest worries following last Saturday’s 28-26 loss to USC, when Casey Skowron missed a 36-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds. He had hit 11 of 13 field goal tries before the game, when he missed three and drew the wrath of fans on social media.

Fischer and Skowron were teammates in 2012 and 2013.

"Casey has been great the entire year," Fischer said.

"The kid works his tail off. I have a lot of respect for him. I have seen some kickers where they do their kicking at the beginning of practice and then they don’t do anything from then on. He actually works on his craft. …

"People need to lay off him, because I guarantee he’s going to be the x-factor from here on out. I guarantee he’s going to win us two games."

Also check out the Sports Guys Extra as Steve Rivera of, Matt Moreno of, Fischer and I discuss what we’re looking forward to seeing in Arizona basketball’s Red-Blue scrimmage on Saturday.

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