Expect to see some new faces on the field for the Arizona Wildcats when they return home Saturday to face Southern Utah.
Some new old faces, actually.
Coach Kevin Sumlin said Monday that “three of our better players” should be making their 2018 season debut, later identifying them as senior left tackle Layth Friekh, senior cornerback Jace Whittaker and sophomore safety Scottie Young Jr.
Friekh missed Arizona’s first two games while serving an NCAA-mandated suspension related to being granted an extra year of eligibility. Young was suspended for the opener against BYU, an extension of his punishment for a domestic violence arrest last fall, and did not play at Houston, while Whittaker has been out with an undisclosed injury.
“Layth will be back; those other two have been hampered by other things,” Sumlin said. “They’re two players that have been very, very successful. If they’re ready to go they’ll help.”
Friekh had started 33 consecutive games at left tackle prior to his suspension. Sumlin said he will move back to that spot, prompting changes to the rest of Arizona’s offensive line.
Whittaker had started 20 straight games as Arizona’s “field” cornerback, leading the Wildcats in pass breakups in both 2017 (11) and 2018 (13) while also intercepting three passes last season.
Young made nine starts as a freshman, recording 53 tackles (3.5 for loss) with an interception.
Their returns could help an Arizona defense that has failed to record a sack or a takeaway in two games and which saw two starters—defensive tackle Dereck Boles and bandit Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles—leave Saturday’s loss at Houston because of injury.