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Provo • Organizers are calling Saturday's college football opener pitting BYU and Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., the Cactus Kickoff Classic.
Perhaps they should have named it the Mystery Bowl.
BYU enters the contest with new head coach Kalani Sitake, new defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki, new offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, new special teams coach Ed Lamb and just one holdover from the 2015 coaching staff defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi.
Arizona has a new defensive coordinator, former Boise State DC Marcel Yates, and it is expected that the Wildcats will scrap the 3-3-5 scheme they've used in the past and run a 4-2-5 formation like the Broncos did, with three safeties.
Also, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has said he won't name a starting quarterback incumbent Anu Solomon or up-and-coming challenger Brandon Dawkins until just before the 8:30 p.m. MDT kickoff.
"We're going to try to prepare for everything, I guess," Rodriguez told the Arizona Daily Star last week. "It has been really difficult probably the most challenging [game prep] that I've had in a long, long time. They're new in all three phases. You're not exactly sure or have any idea what they're going to do. There's no spring game footage, nothing like that, that we can look at. We are really in the dark."
BYU coaches have tried to keep it that way; all three scrimmages in August at LaVell Edwards Stadium were closed to the media, and reporters were only allowed to observe the first half-hour of selected practices in preseason training camp.
Both teams ended camp earlier than usual and jumped into game prep, hoping to be as ready as possible for the unknown in what should be one of the most competitive openers on the Week 1 slate around the country.
Arizona has usually opened with a cupcake under Rodriguez, but not this year. As an independent, BYU has generally been forced to test itself early. The Cougars opened at Nebraska last year, at Connecticut in 2014, at Virginia in 2013, vs. Washington State in 2012 and at Ole Miss in 2011.
"I think Arizona is a good first game for us to play, just with the situation we are in," said BYU linebacker Fred Warner. "I feel like we are very prepared for what is going to be coming up."
Still, the Cougars have been forced to prepare for two quarterbacks, who have differing styles.
Sitake tabbed Taysom Hill the starter last week over Tanner Mangum.
"I thought Taysom Hill was one of the best in the country when he was healthy," Rodriguez said.
The feeling at BYU camp is that Rodriguez will go with the more experienced Solomon, who is the better passer of the two. Dawkins is a better athlete and more of a runner, though, and those types of quarterbacks have given BYU problems in the past.
"If we've got two guys ready to win with, we'll play two of them," Rodriguez said. "If we've got three, we will play three. Pretty simple."
Tuiaki is throwing a different scheme at Arizona, one with a 4-3 front and cornerbacks who should be able to play more man-press defense than BYU has played in a decade. Sitake will release his first depth chart on Monday, and the biggest question will be who gets the nod at starting left cornerback Akile Davis, Troy Warner or Isaiah Armstrong.
"We got a whole clump of guys that are still under evaluation, and if we went into a game, we feel comfortable about rotating certain guys, besides Michael Davis," Tuiaki said. "All the rest of them are still battling for spots."
Arizona went 7-6 last season, 3-6 in Pac-12 play to finish in fifth place in the South Division. The Wildcats beat Utah 37-30 in double overtime about a month before the Utes defeated BYU 35-28 in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Fall semester classes at UA started Aug. 22. BYU starts Monday, so the roster will be expanded past the 105 who have been available at camp.
"I feel a lot better going into this weekend," Sitake said after the final scrimmage on Thursday.
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BYU vs. Arizona
P At University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MDT
TV • Fox Sports 1