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Arizona Wildcats’ offense isn’t just good, it’s elite

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But UA faces its biggest challenge yet this weekend

Arizona v California Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats have won three games in a row, erasing a disappointing 2-2 start to move to 5-2 — just one win away from bowl eligibility with five games left to play.

How have they done it? An explosive offense, mainly.

Khalil Tate himself has tallied 1,162 yards in the last three weeks, and the Wildcats as a team have racked up 1,683 yards during that span.

Arizona is 3-0 since Tate took over as the team’s No. 1 quarterback, and the Wildcats have quickly become an elite offense, not just in the Pac-12, but in the entire FBS.

What is Arizona’s offense good at? Almost everything

  • UA averages 7.01 yards per rush, second-best in the nation for teams with at least 250 rush attempts thus far.
  • Arizona has scored 40 touchdowns this season. Only Ohio State (44), Alabama (43) and West Virginia (41) have more TDs.
  • Arizona leads the Pac-12 in scoring (43.1), rushing (342.3) and fewest sacks allowed (0.71 per game).
  • Arizona ranks fourth nationally with 342.3 rushing yards per game.
  • Arizona is seventh in the FBS in total offense (514.0)
  • Arizona is fifth in the FBS in scoring offense (43.1)
  • Despite running 73.5 plays per game, Arizona is eighth in the FBS in sacks allowed per game (.71).
  • Arizona has only allowed five sacks all season, tied for ninth in the FBS.
  • Arizona is third in the country in offensive plays of 30+ yards (28).
  • Arizona is ninth in the FBS in fourth-down conversation percentage (.769)
  • Khalil Tate is leading the FBS in yards per carry (13.93)
  • Arizona is first in the Pac-12 in touchdown percentage (drives that end in a TD).
  • Arizona is averaging 3.21 points per drive, the best mark in the Pac-12.
  • Arizona is averaging 7.75 yards per play, also the best mark in the Pac-12.

So...is there anything Arizona isn’t good at?

  • Arizona is tied for 30th in third-down conversion percentage (.444). Not bad, but not elite.
  • Arizona is 43rd in passing efficiency as a team, but Khalil Tate has a 198.8 quarterback rating the last three games, which would place him No. 2 the nation, only behind Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. So even though Arizona doesn’t attempt many passes (Tate has thrown 41 passes in the last three games), when they do, they’re wildly effective.
  • Arizona is 53rd in the country in red zone efficiency, only scoring 86.2% of the time.
  • At the same time, Arizona is only 48th in the FBS in touchdown percentage while in the red zone.
  • Arizona is tied for 52nd in turnovers lost, but that number is certainly skewed by the Utah and Houston games. Arizona only has two turnovers in three games since Tate took over at QB.

As a whole.....

S&P+ rates Arizona as the 15th-best offense in the country (that number is adjusted for opponents).

However, Arizona is in for its biggest test yet Saturday when it faces the Washington State Cougars, who have the 12th-best defense in the country, per S&P+.

Arizona hasn’t really faced a tough defense in the Tate era — Cal, at No. 71 in S&P+, has been the stingiest — so this weekend will be a good measuring stick for the Wildcats.

Same goes for Washington State, which has not faced an offense of Arizona’s caliber yet. The best offense the Cougars have faced is USC’s, which is ranked 27th in the country.

The Trojans mustered 27 points on 342 yards.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire