Best Arizona Offensive Player
QB Khalil Tate, Jr.
It took about a month, and then the former coaching staff unleashed Tate upon the world. In a grand debut, the 6-2, 215-pounder ripped off 327 rushing yards and four scores against Colorado, and followed it up with 230 yards and two scores in the win over UCLA.
Deep in the Heisman race in mid-November with six straight 100-yard rushing games, that fizzled as the the team struggled late, but it was still a special year of must-see quarterback watching.
He finished with 1,411 yards and 12 scores, averaging over nine yards per carry, and he completed 62% of his throws for 1,591 yards and 14 scores with nine picks. After a stronger showing as a passer this spring – to go along with his amazing quickness and rushing skills – get ready for the statistical superstar to put up astronomical numbers under the new coaching staff.
2. RB J.J. Taylor, Soph.
3. WR/KR Shun Brown, Sr.
4. OT Layth Friekh, Sr.
5. C Nathan Eldridge, Jr.
Best Arizona Defensive Player
LB Colin Schooler, Soph.
The big hitter in the middle was second on the team with 95 tackles, but he was a big-time all-around playmaker as a freshman making four sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss with two picks, taking one for a score.
Undersized at just 6-0 and 226 pounds, the high school running back makes up for it by being ultra-quick around the ball. He hit Cal for 14 tackles and Arizona State for 13, and now he’ll be the veteran leader again on the inside of the veteran corps.
2. LB Tony Fields, Soph.
3. DE Kylan Wilborn, Soph.
4. DT Dereck Boles, Sr.
5. S Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Sr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
DT PJ Johnson, Jr.
There’s decent size for the interior, but for a team that needs to be stronger against the run, the 6-4, 330-pound Johnson needs to lock down a spot on the nose so Dereck Boles can do more to get into the backfield at another tackle spot.
Johnson wasn’t a big-time recruit from the JUCO ranks, but he came up with a good-enough offseason to look ready to go. Also helping the cause will be Sione Taufahema, a 6-1, 330-pound block who can sit on the nose, too.
Key Game To The Arizona Season
USC, Sept. 29
Arizona could symbolically use the win over Houston early on – the Wildcats lost to the Cougars last year, and it’s Kevin Sumlin’s old team – and beating Arizona State is a must for any UA head coach. But the Pac-12 South is gettable this year, and to do that, beating USC is a must.
The Wildcats have lost five straight to the Trojans – the last win a 39-36 thriller in 2012 – with the fun of last year’s four-game winning streak ending with a 49-35 defeat. With a manageable schedule over the first half of the season, beat USC, and asking for a 6-0 start before going to Utah isn’t crazy.
2017 Arizona Fun Stats
– 4th Down Conversions: Arizona 12-of-17 (71%) – Opponents 14-of-25 (56%)
– Penalties: Opponents 106 for 983 yards – Arizona 69 for 715 yards
– Average Rushing Yards Per Game: Arizona 309.3 – Opponents 185.1