FOOTBALL

Arizona football notebook: Wildcats to face BYU in Glendale in 2016

2013-04-13T00:00:00Z Arizona football notebook: Wildcats to face BYU in Glendale in 2016Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Arizona Wildcats athletic director Greg Byrne has a saying that he attaches to tweets, says in interviews and reminds fans of every chance he gets: "Phoenix is Wildcat Country."

He announced a move on Friday that will help back that up even more.

The Wildcats will play a three-game series with BYU starting in 2016. The first contest will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, home of the Arizona Cardinals.

The Wildcats will host the Cougars at Arizona Stadium in 2018 and will travel to Provo, Utah, in 2020.

The UA announced the series via social media.

"Our Phoenix-area fan base is an important part of our Arizona athletics community," Byrne said in a statement. "These three games will provide the coaches, student-athletes and fans of both Arizona and BYU with a great regional matchup."

Arizona hasn't played a game in the Phoenix area against a team other than Arizona State since 1994. Then, UA's "Desert Swarm" team beat Miami 29-0 in the Fiesta Bowl.

"I think it's going to be a great regional rivalry, but also a national rivalry with a lot of national interest in both programs," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "For us, to have a home game in 2018 and going to Phoenix in 2016 where we have so many alumni and so many recruits, is a win-win all the way around."

BYU and Arizona last met in 2008, when the Wildcats beat the Cougars 31-21 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Overall, the two programs have met 22 times with Arizona leading the all-time series 12-9-1.

Byrne has spent the past few years looking for a neutral-site partner. BYU appears to be a good fit: The Cougars have a large following in the Phoenix area, and should help fill the 63,400-seat stadium.

UA on TV

The Wildcats' spring game will be televised today for the first time. Pac-12 Networks is carrying all of the spring games this season.

Ted Robinson and former UA and NFL standout Glenn Parker will call the action. Former Pac-12 head coach Rick Neuheisel will handle analyst duties from the network's studio.

"Everything for Arizona this season is about the quarterbacks," Neuheisel told the Star this week.

And Neuheisel thinks an incoming freshman will win the starting job.

"Anu Solomon, I think that's probably who will it have to be when it's all said and done," he said. "I think (B.J.) Denker and (Jesse) Scroggins are good, but I think with what Rich does in his offense, Solomon will be the natural fit."

Neuheisel said he thinks Solomon can have a Denard Robinson-type impact for the Wildcats. Robinson played quarterback for Rodriguez when the two were at Michigan.

Neuheisel also said the Wildcats' defense needs to be stingier in 2013 and not give up the yards it did in 2012.

"Rich did a good job last season, but he'll have to do an even better job this season without a Matt Scott and a lot of question marks on defense," Neuheisel said.

Hill hurting

Wildcats wide receiver Austin Hill likely won't play today after suffering a leg injury earlier this week in practice.

Hill left practice on Wednesday with an icepack on his leg. The injury is believed to be serious.

Rodriguez will likely address Hill's health after today's game.

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

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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