4. College Football News Preview 2020: Arizona Wildcats Defense 3 Things To Know
– Kevin Sumlin is making yet another attempt to fix a defense that allowed over 34 points per game over the last two years – and that was an improvement for a Wildcat program that gave up over 36 points per game over the three years before the regime change.
In comes Paul Rhoads – the former Iowa State head coach who worked with Arkansas and UCLA over the last four years – and now he has to change the Pac-12’s worst defense that allowed 471 yards and couldn’t get off the field. There wasn’t a pass rush, and there weren’t enough third down stops.
– The big early positive is a linebacking corps that will come up with a whole lot of tackles. Colin Schooler is the potential All-Pac-12 star – he led the team with 98 tackles – and Tony Field, Anthony Pandy, and hybrid Jalen Harris are back, too.
Harris led the team with just four sacks. Senior end JB Brown is back on one side, and 6-5, 310-pound Trevon Mason is back after stepping into the starting role coming out of the JUCO ranks. There’s enough bulk on the inside to be stronger against the run – Finton Connolly is gone, but almost everyone else of note is back.
– To be fair to the secondary, there wasn’t enough of a pass rush to help the cause. That was only part of the problem, though, for a defense that allowed 300 or more passing yards in seven of the 12 games and came up with just two interceptions over the final eight.
Lorenzo Burns is a good-tackling veteran corner who led the team with four interceptions, but Scottie Young is back at one safety spot – leaving for West Virginia – after finishing third on the team with 66 tackles. All-star safety Jace Whittaker is gone, too.