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Arizona football: Marcel Yates led improving, attacking defense at Boise State

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This is a guy you should be excited about.

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Rich Rodriguez has officially named Marcel Yates as the Arizona Wildcats defensive coordinator, who will be serving a two-year contract worth 530K per year. The general consensus has been that Yates was a slam-dunk hire. And when you break down his defense at Boise State throughout the last two seasons, it shows.

The Mountain West isn't the fiercest of conferences, but Yates and his defense dominated. Yates had been an assistant coach with the Boise State Broncos for quite some time before heading to Texas A&M for a co-defensive coordinator position. In 2014, he went back to Boise State to become the defensive coordinator.

In 2014, he proved to be a solid fit, ranking in the top half of most national statistics. His Broncos ended the season with a 12-2 record, and a win over Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl. In 2015, Boise State took a small step back, finishing the season 9-4, but it was Marcel Yates' defense that took a huge step forward.

The defense improved in almost every statistical category, specifically the secondary. Scoring defense improved by five points per game. plus interceptions, pass deflections and sacks were all top 30 in the nation under Yates.

When you compare the talent that he had at Boise State, it's almost on par with Arizona. Boise State's team talent composite ranking, which combines their last four recruiting classes in a new ranking, is 55th. Arizona's? 43rd. Much like we said about Rich Rodriguez last season, Yates was doing great things with limited talent.

Now, because of the Pac-12 South title, I think some people automatically feel entitled to landing better recruits. That's just not the case with Arizona, competing as the 4th-best option in your own division. But with Yates and Donté Williams, we will see a jump in recruiting. Arizona will now start to slide into the top half of the Pac-12 recruiting rankings, a good sign for those who judge a recruiting class based on rankings, not fit.

Below are the key statistics of Marcel Yates' defense through the past two years at Boise State.

Yards Scoring Interceptions Forced Fumbles Sacks Pass deflections
2014 366 (40th) 26.5 (66th) 22 (T-5th) 18 (68th) 47 (5th) 77 (13th)
2015 342 (22nd) 21.3 (26th) 22 (4th) 22 (46th) 33 (30th) 73 (16th)

3rd down converions 4th down conversions Red zone conversions 20+ yard plays Efficiency
2014 35% (18th) 43% (33) 73.53% (11th) 57 (63rd) 65.1 (38th)
2015 31% (10th) 55% (89th) 80% (44th) 43 (8th) 66.6 (30th)

I've never been a huge fan of national statistics, simply because each conference has their own unique style of play. The Mountain West conference isn't nearly as fierce as the Power Five conferences, and then come things like style of play for each conference and so on.

What I also factor into these numbers is the fact that Boise State has been dominating the Mountain West for years in recruiting, so you would hope that with the talent they are able to assemble compared to their regular season foes outperforms them as well.

Still, these numbers are impressive. And I really like what Yates brings to the table.

The Arizona staff is filled for all but one position, the defensive line, so we'll see who the finishing piece is to this puzzle. Whether Arizona switches to a 4-2-5 or runs a mix with 3-3-5, there will be some immediate improvement on the defensive side of the ball, despite losing a few key guys.