Ka'Deem Carey will be one of the very best running backs in the country, and the Arizona Wildcats will struggle on defense again in Rich Rodriguez's second year.

At least that's what the national prognosticators are saying.

With the start of the college football season just more than two months away, national publications are putting out their preseason previews and giving their opinions of the 125 Division I FBS teams.

The consensus on the UA is pretty cut-and-dried: The Wildcats have some talent on their roster and an easier schedule than most, but the quarterback position and the entire defense have question marks.

Arizona is ranked as high as No. 40 in one magazine and as low as 53rd in another. Here's a breakdown of what the publications are saying about the UA.

The Sporting News

Team ranking: Third in the Pac-12 South behind UCLA and Arizona State. The magazine predicts a Las Vegas Bowl appearance.

Carey watch: The Sporting News has Carey as a first-team All-Pac-12 running back and a second-team All-American.

Who they like: Senior linebacker Marquis Flowers: "Moved from safety to linebacker during fall camp a year ago, Flowers grew quickly into the role, earning a Pac-12 defensive player of the week award in November. Now he had his first spring at the position and should be even more effective."

What they're saying about the season: "Thanks to an easy early schedule, the Wildcats have time to plug in the right quarterback. If Arizona figures things out by the time it gets to USC on Oct.10 - and beyond - it could land in a better bowl game."

Phil Steele's College Football Preview

Team ranking: No. 45 in the nation and fourth in the Pac-12 South behind USC, Arizona State and UCLA.

Carey watch: Phil Steele has Carey on the all-conference first-team with Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas. Steele has Carey as a second-team All-American with Georgia's Todd Gurley behind Thomas and Alabama's T.J. Yeldon.

Who they like: Sophomore guard Cayman Bundage and the entire UA offensive line. Steele was impressed by Bundage's 11 games played as a true freshman on the offensive line in the Pac-12. On the unit as a whole, Steele said, "Their career starts increase to 70, (they are) also in the second year of Rodriguez's system and should stay healthier."

What they're saying about the season: "Despite having a much softer schedule and 17 returning starters, the loss of WR (Austin) Hill in the spring has me saying they will not top last year's eight-win total."

Athlon Sports

Team ranking: No. 40 in the nation and fourth in the Pac-12 South behind Arizona State, USC and UCLA.

Carey watch: Athlon has Carey as one of two first-team All-Americans at running back with Gurley. Carey's also obviously a first-team all-conference pick.

Who they like: Sophomore linebacker Dakota Conwell: The sophomore from Pittsburgh saw increased playing time at the end of last season, and Athlon likes him to likely break into the lineup this year as a regular.

What they're saying about the season: "Somehow Arizona won eight games, including a bowl game, with the worst defense in school history by balancing it with the most prolific offense in school history. Those numbers aren't likely to be as extreme this year. With Matt Scott gone, the quarterback situation is worrisome, but on defense the Wildcats appear to be improved."

Lindy's Sports

Team ranking: No. 53 nationally and fourth in the Pac-12 South behind UCLA, USC and Arizona State.

Carey watch: Lindy's ranks Carey as the best running back in the country, one spot ahead of Baylor's Lache Seastrunk. Carey's a first-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 pick.

Who they like: Junior quarterback Jesse Scroggins. Said Lindy's of the former USC player: "He has a big arm and enough athleticism to handle the read-option offense. Limited in spring, he'll have a chance to win the job in fall camp."

What they're saying about the season: "The quarterback question looms over the 2013 season and holds down expectations after a surprisingly good 8-5 debut for Rodriguez."

Extra point

• Arizona received verbal commitments from two more players - kicker/ punter Josh Pollack and wide receiver Tony Ellison - for the class of 2014. Pollack, from Highland Park High School in in Deerfield, Ill., figures to compete for the starting job once the UA's Jake Smith's eligibility expires. Ellison, a product of Granite Bay (Calif.) High School, chose the UA over offers from Fresno State and Wyoming.

On StarNet: See a photo gallery of All-America running back Ka'Deem Carey at azstarnet.com/gallery and watch a video of some of his best 2012 moments at azstarnet.com/video

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Mouse over the colored bars for details on rushing and passing yards and touchdowns.

Inset: Carey scores one of his three touchdowns against Nevada; photo by Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star.