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Jace Whittaker a ‘lockdown’ cornerback, per Pro Football Focus

Passers only have a 61.4 quarterback rating when targeting the UA cornerback this season

Washington State v Arizona Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats ranked dead last in pass defense in the Pac-12 this season, surrendering 276.9 yards per game, but don’t blame Jace Whittaker.

The junior cornerback was one of the top players in the conference at his position, according to Pro Football Focus.

Opposing quarterbacks only had a passer rating of 61.4 when targeting Whittaker this year, the sixth-lowest mark in the Pac-12 (minimum 130 snaps in cornerback coverage).

Whittaker finished the regular season with 34 tackles, 10 pass breakups, and three interceptions. Two of those interceptions came in the win against Josh Rosen and the UCLA Bruins on Oct. 14. One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown.

While Arizona’s young defense mostly struggled this season, it should improve next year and having Whittaker able to cover the conference’s top receivers will only help.

Arizona’s No. 2 cornerback, Lorenzo Burns, has improved as the 2017 season has worn on, too. The redshirt freshman has a team-high five interceptions this season.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire