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 Anthony Pandy, and hybrid Jalen Harris are back, too. Tony Fields, though, is transferring after coming up with 94 stops.
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.