2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Arizona Offense
Don’t ignore the running game. The ground attack wasn’t quite what it could’ve or should’ve been thanks to a Khalil Tate ankle problem, but it still led the Pac-12 averaging over 202 yards per game – and that’s the mark. Arizona has big issues when it doesn’t crank up that many.
Getting to 200 yards doesn’t assure anything – losses last year to UCLA and Arizona State proved that – but the Wildcats went 1-5 when they didn’t get there. To take this across coaching regimes, Arizona is 1-15 over the last three seasons – the lone win was last year against Cal – when it doesn’t go over 202 yards.
Biggest Key To The Arizona Defense
At some point, the pass defense has to be better. To be fair, Arizona allowed fewer total yards through the air than it had since 2013, and the program hasn’t given up fewer than 3,000 yards since 2010. Even so, Arizona was dead last in the Pac-12 in pass defense.
The secondary picked off just seven passes on the year with three of them coming against Cal – see the Biggest Key To The Arizona Offense for why that mattered – and got hit for 250 yards or more eight times. Considering the defensive back experience returning, the Wildcats need to start being stronger in the pass happy Pac-12.
Key Player To A Successful Season
DT Myles Tapusoa, Jr.
335-pound tackle PJ Johnson left early for the NFL – getting picked up by the Detroit Lions – and Dereck Boles is gone off the nose. Now it’ll be up to the 6-1, 330-pound Tapusoa go come in from the JUCO ranks and be an instant factor in the middle.
There isn’t a whole lot of beef in the interior, and that’s where the new guy fits in. Now just a block inside, he can move enough to get behind the line, but it’ll be his job to gum up the works.
Key Game To The Arizona Season
at Arizona State, Nov. 29
At the end of Kevin Sumlin’s rocky first season, all he had to do was beat Arizona State at home, and all would’ve been fine. The Wildcats would’ve been 6-6 and off to a bowl, and they would’ve taken down their rival. But they lost a 41-40 shootout to make it two losses in a row and three of the last four in the series.
If all is right with the world, Arizona won’t need this to go bowling … but it might. The schedule isn’t easy, but more than that. Sumlin has to beat That Team Up North.
– Arizona Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Arizona Fun Stats
– Time of Possession: Opponents 31:44 – Arizona 28:16
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Opponents 94 – Arizona 51
– Interception Return Average: Arizona 28.3 (on 7 picks) – Opponents 8.0 (on 10 picks)