“I got the jitters already just thinking about that,” UA wide receiver Cedric Peterson said of Saturday’s opener.
The Wildcats went 7-6 last season, but expectations are higher this year under new head coach Kevin Sumlin, thanks to Heisman candidate quarterback Khalil Tate and a more experienced defense.
The Cougars are coming off a 4-9 season and is looking to turn things around in Kalani Sitake’s third year as head coach. BYU struggled mightily on offense last year, averaging just 17.1 points per game. But their defense was stout, surrendering just 24.7 points per contest, the 47th-best mark in the country.
Tuesday, we had a chance to speak with several Arizona players and here are their initial thoughts on BYU:
Arizona right tackle Cody Creason: “Definitely big people on the d-line. It’s not really different than any other game. I’ve gone against big d-linemen ever since I’ve been in the Pac-12, so I’m used to situations like this.”
Arizona wide receiver Shawn Poindexter: “After watching the film the last couple weeks, I noticed their front-seven is pretty big. ... And how that impacts us is everything runs through the offensive line. It seems like maybe (we’ll do) a lot of quick (passes), things like that or getting open and give Khalil some time to make some throws.”
Arizona wide receiver Cedric Peterson: “The Mormons are a little bit older than most teams we play against, but the main thing is their d-line. They’ve got a few bigger bodies up there that we haven’t really seen, but I think we can handle them.”
Peterson on BYU’s secondary: “They got a few dudes moved to different positions, a few dudes that are gone, but for the most part they don’t look like too much that we can’t handle. They’re going to give us some competition for sure.”
Arizona cornerback Lorenzo Burns on preparing for a team with a new offensive coordinator: “It can be difficult because you not only have to watch the personnel of BYU, but you also have to watch film of the recent team that he was just at.”
Burns on how he thinks BYU will attack Arizona’s defense: “A lot of formations, as far as shifting, trying to confuse us and get us out of position and blow coverages.”
Arizona safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles: “BYU has some solid receivers. They’re pretty good. They’re a little bit shifty, they’ve got a little bit of a wiggle. Matt Bushman is a big dude, everyone knows him from Sabino. He knows how to use his body well. I knew of (Bushman in HS). We played my freshman year, we got killed. It was varsity. He caught like a slant for a touchdown and I was like, yeah, there’s nobody hitting that. Dylan Collie, from Hawaii, he did pretty good against us (had 2 catches for 27 yards with Hawaii vs. Arizona in 2016).”