College Football News Preview 2020: Arizona Wildcats Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Arizona Wildcats Offense
The offensive front has to give everyone more time to work, especially the quarterback. The O was able to crank up yards – moving the ball wasn’t all that much of a problem – but the success comes when the passing game dominates.
The yards were there even when the Wildcats were losing, but they were 3-0 last season and 5-0 over the last two years when the passing game completed 65% or more of its throws. Grant Gunnell is a good enough and accurate enough quarterback to live around the 65% mark – that’s what he hit last year – if he’s given time to do what he does.
Arizona gave up 2.75 sacks and seven tackles for loss per game. Improve that just a little bit, and the offense will do what it must to make up for the issues on …
Biggest Key To The Arizona Wildcats Defense
Get … off … the … field. There wasn’t enough of a pass rush, there weren’t enough big stops on the early downs, and there weren’t enough takeaways.
And there weren’t enough third down stops. Again.
To be fair to Kevin Sumlin and the current coaching staff, 2013 was the last time your Arizona Wildcats managed to allow teams to convert 40% of their third down tries – that team gave up third down conversions 39% of the time.
Last year’s defense was 123rd in the nation in third down stops, allowing offenses to convert 47% of their chances on the year, and 43% or more in nine of the 12 games.
To put this in context. under 40% is fine and under 35% is good.
Washington was the only team held under 35% by the Wildcats – Arizona lost – and Colorado was the only other team held under 40%.
Key Arizona Wildcats Player To A Successful Season
DE JB Brown, Sr.
The offense will be fine. It might not be consistent again, and it might sputter a bit against the stronger defenses, but it’ll be good enough to win with. The defensive side is the issue, and it all starts with generating more of a pass rush.
The Wildcats only averaged 1.42 sacks – the lowest in the Pac-12 – and 4.5 tackles for loss per game. They need someone who can consistently get into the backfield from the defensive front – the linebackers tend to do most of the heavy lifting – and that means the 6-3, 255-pound Brown has to be a bigger factor.
He has been a decent part of the rotation over the last few years – coming up with 21 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss last season – but if he has a big year, the defense will, too.
Key Game To The Arizona Wildcats Season
Stanford, Sept. 12
Stanford was awful last year. It was banged up, beaten, and was a shadow of its Pac-12 championship-level self. It also whacked Arizona 41-31 for its sixth straight win in the series.
2000 was the last time the Wildcats were able to get by the Cardinal, and this time around it’s the Pac-12 opener and a chance to get off to a potentially big start.
The first three conference games are against teams that didn’t go bowling last year. Win, and if there are home victories over Hawaii and Portland State to kickoff the season, it’ll be the program’s first 3-0 start since 2015.
– Arizona Wildcats Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Arizona Fun Stats
– Sacks: Opponents 33 for 191 yards – Arizona 17 for 93 yards
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:36 – Arizona 27:24
– Fumbles: Arizona 10 (lost 6) – Opponents 8 (lost 4)